TIME FOR A ROYAL COMMISSION
Is it time for Cardinal George Pell to “fall on his sword” over child sex abuse and cover-up allegations in the Catholic Church?
New South Wales MP Troy Grant thinks so. The former police officer and Nationals member for Dubbo told ABC Radio today that it was time for top-down change in the Catholic Church.
It was also time, he said, for a national Royal Commission to investigate systemic abuse against children by the Catholic Church, and that State-based inquiries and individual prosecutions were no longer enough.
Mr Grant also said many Catholics wanted a leader who would “embrace” such an investigation.
Mr Grant’s calls follow cover-up claims last night by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, (pictured right) who told ABC’s Lateline the Church had covered up crimes by paedophile priests, silenced investigations, and destroyed crucial evidence to avoid prosecution.
“I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silence victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence, and moves priests to protect the good name of the church. None of that stops at the Victorian Border.”
Chief Inspector Fox also said a witness statement currently before the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions was “explosive” and implicates an archbishop, a bishop, and a priest in an alleged cover-up involving Father Denis McAlinden, who for four decades was shuffled from parish to parish.
But Chief Inspector Fox believes police prosecutions on their own cannot deal with the Catholic Church’s structures and systems for reporting abuse: “There’s so much that the police force can’t do. We don’t have power,” he said.
“The greatest frustration is that there is so much power and organisation behind the scenes that police don’t have the powers to be able to go in and seize documents and have them [the church] disclose things to us.”
Chief Inspector Fox says he has “definite information” of alleged cover-ups by a number of diocese bishops.
“It potentially goes even higher than that,” he said.
The litany of horror of children suffering at the hands of Catholic Priests in this country is galling: at the website for Broken Rites – a church sex abuse victims support group – the list of offences is unspeakably long, sinister, and deeply upsetting.
According to The Age, the Victorian inquiry is expected to be told today about a group of religious brothers led by an “alpha paedophile” that was suspected in the unreported bashing deaths of two boys and the sexual abuse of more than 40 wards of the state, and children in homes for the mentally impaired over three decades.
The personal stories of lives destroyed by abuse is heartbreaking, and the flow of such stories show no signs of showing of slowing down.
We’ve had Royal Commissions into Aborginal Deaths in Custody, Nuclear Testing in Australia, the building and construction industry: surely it’s time to call to account the great behemoth of the Catholic Church and all those within who resist calls for transparency.