Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a national inquiry into the Catholic church’s responses to child sex abuse after a series of scandals involving paedophile priests.
Gillard made the announcement on Monday in the wake of claims by a senior policeman that a Catholic Church in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales destroyed evidence and silenced investigations.
“There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil,” Gillard said. “I believe in these circumstances that it is appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission…”
Gillard had been under growing pressure to establish a national inquiry after the recent allegations but she said the probe would be broader than just the Catholic Church.
“This is not a royal commission targeting any one church,” Gillard said…
In early November, a senior police investigator…alleged that the church had covered up sexual abuse of children in the Hunter Valley, just north of Sydney, to protect paedophiles and its own reputation.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said it was his experience that the church not just covered up, but silenced victims, hindered police, alerted offenders, destroyed evidence and moved priests to protect the church…
Gillard said the more recent allegations were heartbreaking.
“These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject,” she told reporters in Canberra.
Gillard said she did not yet know how far back the commission would investigate. She commended victims for speaking out.
Overdue. Long justified. Something you cannot count on churches to do on their own.
But, then, self-policing usually concerns itself more with “self” than “policing”.