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Published: Tue, February 07, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Australian Catholics 'hang their heads in shame' at scale of abuse


Australia ordered the Royal Commission in 2012 after a decade of growing pressure to investigate allegations of child abuse across the country, with the inquiry now in its final phase after four years of hearings.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told of the 1,880 alleged perpetrators within the Catholic Church, 572 were priests.

At least 1,880 alleged perpetrators were identified, according to the commission.

The Christian Brothers knew they may have pedophiles among them back in 1919.

It is feared some of the worst offenders had hundred of victims.

For example, in one particularly egregious case, 40.4 percent of religious brothers from the order St. John of God Brothers were accused of abuse. Among the perpetrators, 32% were religious brothers, 30% were priests, and 29% were lay people, with religious sisters at 5%. The data relates to the period between 1950 and 2010 and the report has been prepared by a special inquiry committee that has been tasked to examine institutional sex abuse in Australia.

Mr Sullivan told Sky News the church leadership must 'step up'.

"Every child that's damaged, there is a ripple effect".

During an at times emotional statement to the commission, Francis Sullivan from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council - a Church advisory body - said the data was an indictment of the priests and religious who abused children. There needs to be an independent system away from the church.

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The commission will resume its public hearing into the current policies of the Catholic Church on Tuesday. Dr Whelan believes radical change is needed in the Catholic Church. She described victims' accounts as "harrowing".

"The impact on the wider community is not just in terms of mental health but physical health", he said.

The archbishop voiced his conviction that when "the humiliation and purgation through which we are presently passing" is over, the Church will be more humble and compassionate Church in the area of abuse.

"The fallout of this destruction is to the very fabric of our humanity". Most survivors were male, the study said; schools and homes for children were the places children were most likely to experience abuse.

Archbishop Fisher noted that both "claims and alleged perpetrators" are referred to in the commission's report, and that no distinction is made between claims that have been proven and those that haven't.

"The saddest part is we aren't even shocked by the figures". Some 22 per cent of Christian Brothers were accused of being pedophiles.

The hearing is also expected to examine the role of confession, mandatory celibacy, Canon law, the use of secrecy, psycho-sexual factors involving clergy, and screening, selection and training of priests. "We also recognize that there are abuse victims who are yet to come forward and perhaps never will", he said, noting that to date, claims have been made against seven percent of priests ministering in the three dioceses of greater Sydney since 1950.

"It is integrated spiritual, academic and emotional". "But we have to shift the culture and that's a much more hard thing to do", he said. Lifeline can be accessed on 13 11 14.

The Vatican established a commission to investigate claims of sex abuse in 2013, while in 2015 Pope Francis created a church tribunal to judge bishops who failed to protect children from predatory priests.

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