An Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church is long overdue in Australia.
The stress and heartbreak that the victims of sexual abuse, and their families, go through is horrendous. I do not believe that the Catholic Church even comes close to understanding this. If it did, would the Vatican have allowed this abuse to go on for centuries? Perhaps it’s not a question of understanding and empathy. It’s most likely all about power, wealth and status. I believe that the number of reported abuses is just the tip of the iceberg, because research has shown that is the tendency with all forms of sexual abuse. It can take half of a victim’s lifetime, or more, to just gain the strength to talk about the abuse. To quote Chrissie Foster: “It takes 40 or 50 years for children to talk about what has happened to them, and it just never stops”.
It one such case, two of Chrissie and Anthony Fosters’ daughters were raped by a Catholic Priest. In an article about the Fosters in Catholica, March 2011, the writer refers to the abuser as “A Holy Roman Catholic Priest”. I think this is indicative of the mentality of the Catholic hierarchy, in that they choose this highly inflated title to describe a paedophile. It sends a message that this rapist continues to be treated with respect by his peers and the Vatican!
Chrissie and Anthony Foster are the parents of three daughters, two of whom were raped as little girls by a paedophile priest, Kevin O’Donnell. One of the daughters eventually took her own life in despair after a long period of self harm. The second daughter who was raped, after a similarly long period of self harm, walked in front of a speeding car while intoxicated and today requires round the clock nursing care that will continue for the rest of her life.
Mrs Foster has written a book ‘Hell on the Way to Heaven‘ in which she cites six bishops who failed to take decisive action following several parents’ complaints regarding Kevin O’Donnell. It is difficult to comprehend why Cardinal Pell is still in Office given what has been presented in Mrs Foster’s book. “Cardinal Pell has more front than Myers Department Store and it will probably wash over him like water off a duck’s back”. Read Mrs Foster’s book and judge for yourself, the failure of these six bishops to protect children from sexual abuse by Kevin O’Donnell. Cardinal Pell appears to bury his head in the sand over this issue, and still there has been no effective inquiry.
The Fosters are driving the push for an inquiry into sexual abuse by clergy in Victoria. As quoted in the Waverley Leader September 13, “Two signatures stand between an inquiry into the alleged sexual abuse of two Oakleigh girls, and other alleged victims by Victorian clergy”. Labour MP, Anne Barker handed the proposed terms of reference for an inquiry to Attorney-General Robert Clark, recently. If Mr Clark and Premier Ted Baillieu, sign the four page document, a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be launched. The Terms of Reference state that: “Since 1993, more than 65 clergy who have served in Victoria, have been convicted of abuse”. These figures are staggering. But the Catholic hierarchy have stipulated that they will not deviate from its ‘Melbourne Response Programme’ which was implemented 15 years ago. However, going on past experience of the way the Catholic Church has protected its paedophile priests, we must have nothing less than a Royal Commission of Inquiry, which would be totally outside the influence of the Vatican. Mr Foster believes A Royal Commission is the only way to expose the secretive behaviour of the Church, and bring it under full scrutiny. A decision is pending. Let’s hope that in the event of a Royal Commission of Inquiry in Victoria, other states will follow suit.