Updated 6 February 2017 – From today and over the next three weeks archbishops from every state (except Tasmania) will take the stand.
Some statistics from the Royal Commission on first day of proceedings involving archbishops of Australia, in just 5 Dioceses here in Australia:
Figures much worse for religious orders: 20.4% Marist Brothers, 21.9% Salesians, 22% Christian Brothers 40.4%, St John of God.
“The following five archdioceses or dioceses with priest members which had
the highest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950
to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:
a. 11.7% of priests from the Diocese of Wollongong were alleged
b. 13.9% of priests from the Diocese of Lismore were alleged
c. 14.1% of priests from the Diocese of Port Pirie were alleged
d. 14.7% of priests from the Diocese of Sandhurst were alleged
e. 15.1% of priests from the Diocese of Sale were alleged
The disturbing figures were revealed by senior counsel assisting, Gail Furness, SC. She also revealed that the Holy See had refused to hand over documents involving Australian priests accused of abuse.
“The royal commission hoped to gain an understanding of the action taken in each case,” Furness said. “The Holy See responded, on 1 July 2014, that it was ‘neither possible nor appropriate to provide the information requested’,” she said
“Children were ignored or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious [brothers] were moved. The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past,” she said. “Documents were not kept or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover-ups.”
The Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic and other religious clerics is now underway in Australia.
‘Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses Into Sexual Abuse Of Children’ will carry out its investigations throughout Australia. The Chairman at the Inquiry is Justice Peter McClellan.
Thanks to the courageous work of PM Julia Gillard’s team, the Inquiry began its work in April 2013.
On 7 May 2013 Cardinal George Pell admitted that the Catholic Church covered up hundreds of cases of sexual abuse of children. The Church did this to protect the reputation of the Church, its wealth, and its priests. Since he made that statement, Pell has been given refuge at the Vatican so that he has not taken the stand in these proceedings, which to many victims, is a travesty of justice!
Below is a book which is a must read for anyone interested in the proceedings of the Inquiry:
‘Hell On The Way To Heaven’ is written by Chrissie Foster, mother of two daughters who were raped by a 70+ year old Catholic Priest, Father Kevin O’Donnell. He died before justice prevailed. It’s a heartbreaking story. Chrissy Foster tells us that she was so indoctrinated by Catholic dogma she couldn’t see the signs that her daughters were at risk of sexual abuse by this paedophile. Father O’Donnell had total power over his diocese and the Catholic school the girls attended. He was free to wander among the children at any time and free to take them out of classes when he chose.
It is believed that this paedophile sexually molested and raped hundreds of boys and girls. The Catholic Church did not warn the community that there had been complaints against Kevin O’Donnell spanning 50 years. O’Donnell was eventually defrocked by the Catholic Church but boys continued to visit him at his unit. When George Pell was informed by parishioners about O’Donnell’s continued association with children, he replied that it was no longer anything to do with the Catholic Church!
For everyone’s sake in our community, so this never happens again, please take the time to read this book.
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.
-Anne Frandi-Coory 20 December 2011