Australian bishops pledge cooperation with abuse inquiry
The Catholic bishops of Australia’s Victoria state have said the Catholic Church in Victoria will cooperate “fully” with the Australian state’s parliamentary inquiry into child abuse.
“Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has caused deep concern among Catholics and the wider community,” Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said Sept. 21. “It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its dramatic impact on those who were abused and their families, was committed by Catholic priests, religious and church workers.”
The Victorian parliament has launched an inquiry into how religious and other non-governmental organizations handled child abuse, following suicides by dozens of people abused by clergy, Agence France Presse reports.
The Catholic bishops said the incidence of abuse has fallen “dramatically” from the “appalling numbers” in the 1960s and 1970s. In the last 16 years, the Catholic Church in Victoria has upheld about 620 cases of criminal child abuse, with most claims regarding incidents between 30 and 80 years ago.
The bishops said there have been “very few” complaints of abuse since 1990.
Michael Holcroft, President of the Law Institute of Victoria, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that there is a need for independent investigations. [More]