Australia Announces Child Abuse Probe After Senior Policeman Accuses Catholic Church Of Cover Up

Australia Catholics

Photo: AP

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced that there would be an enormous investigation into institutional responses to allegations of child sex abuse. The government will begin working out the scope of the Royal Probe in the coming weeks, the Australian reports.While Gillard has been clear that the probe will not focus exclusively on one religious order or institution, it appears clear that the probe has largely been ordered as a response to accusations against the Catholic Church in Australia.

Last week, Peter Fox, a senior policeman with the New South Wales force, told an Australian TV news show that he believed a network of priests in the NSW Hunter region had destroyed evidence and been using parish money to cover up a large number of accusations of sexual abuse in the region.

Fox argued that this network had now expanded. “I’ve got no doubt that it’s got tentacles everywhere,” he said Monday. “State boundaries aren’t going to stop these sorts of predators from operating.” One psychologist who had dealt with the victims said that one particular order — St John of God — should be shut down as at least 70 per cent of the priests had been accused of abuse.

A state-wide inquiry in the Victoria found priests had abused at least 620 children since the 1930s.

The Catholic Church in Australia has long been accused of an inadequate response to reports of pedophile priests. The head of the Church, Cardinal George Pell, current Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has accepted the need for an inquiry, though added that “ongoing and at times one-sided media coverage has deepened this uncertainty” had created negative perspectives about the Catholic Church.

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