Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Child abuse inquiry: don't forget the big picture

''And there was nowhere near enough prominence given to the report's most significant finding - that a senior Catholic church official could be charged, not with child sex offences, but concealing or failing to report them.
As I said on Lateline that night, if the official is charged it will be significant in world terms, because there have been less than a handful of such prosecutions anywhere in the world.''

One final point about the "Peter Fox is to blame, nothing to see here" assessment of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry report. There were findings about me, reported in the Newcastle Herald but virtually nowhere else except for the ABC. They were:
The commission finds no evidence that McCarthy was involved, in league with Fox, in concealing evidence from police and hindering the Strike Force Lantle investigation. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that McCarthy was generally determined to provide to police as much information as possible so as to assist with the investigation of the church concealment allegations.
In other words, the police had alleged I had concealed evidence from police and hindered the Strike Force Lantle investigation, but Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, SC, found there was "no evidence" of that.
So Fox's allegations against police were not substantiated, and the NSW Police Force's (extremely serious, I might add) allegations against me were not substantiated, at all, which would appear to be a resounding media win under extraordinary circumstances.
And thanks for asking.


Child abuse inquiry: don't forget the big picture

Many people want to move on after findings from the Special Commission of Inquiry into allegations of a cover-up of child sexual abuse claims in the Catholic diocese, but we should still be focussing on the bigger picture, writes Joanne McCarthy.
Let us think about the release of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry report into Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox's allegations about NSW Police and Catholic Church handling of child sex allegations, and imagine a car crash.
We're sitting in traffic, passing slowly by, but from what we can see in the tangle of cars and crushed metal, it looks like Inspector Fox is to blame.
Certainly police at the crash site are waving us on.
"Nothing to see here, people," they say. "Move along."
And so a lot of the media did move along on May 30, after the first rush of headlines on the night of the report's release.
Peter Fox was to blame. The "hero" cop wasn't a hero anymore, just a man who was "deliberately untruthful" and prone to exaggeration. Oh dear. The police were vindicated. And what about that journalist, the one who made the speech at the Walkleys? Didn't she do something dodgy?
If the report's release has demonstrated anything to me, it is that the media isn't as good at spotting and pursuing bigger picture issues as it thinks it is.
Fox's allegations on the ABC's Lateline in November 2012 were clearly the starting point for the commission of inquiry, and his failure to substantiate his later evidence to the Inquiry that a police investigation into the Catholic Church was a "sham", or that a "Catholic mafia" existed within the NSW Police, obviously needed to figure prominently.
But in the rush to meet deadlines after the report's 3pm release there was too much reliance on the findings alone, too few questions about why a very senior NSW police officer would engage so closely with the media in the first place, no questions about the number of police on stress leave, including Fox, in the Hunter, or whether we should be drawing conclusions about police culture, based on the aggressive treatment of one of its own.
And there was nowhere near enough prominence given to the report's most significant finding - that a senior Catholic church official could be charged, not with child sex offences, but concealing or failing to report them.
As I said on Lateline that night, if the official is charged it will be significant in world terms, because there have been less than a handful of such prosecutions anywhere in the world.
A too-close focus on the "Peter Fox is to blame, let's move on" narrative also misses another point - the inquiry confirmed the Catholic Church had known about two child sex offender priests, Denis McAlinden and Jim Fletcher, for decades. Not only had it known about them, but despite being given many chances to come clean in these more "enlightened" times, it had not told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And I should know, because I was the journalist putting the questions directly to the church - and not just in the Hunter region - since 2006.
So if the church had known all this time, and the police have been prosecuting paedophile priests in the Hunter since 1995, and the Newcastle Herald has been providing public proof, since late 2007, that the church has hidden and moved its child sex offenders both in Australia and overseas, why hasn't there been a successful "conceal"-type prosecution in this country yet?
And that's where all the fascinating bigger picture issues that haven't been reported dwell - the kinds of things being explored at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
If I learnt one thing from my experiences in 2010, after taking the documents to police that started this whole thing rolling, it is that the true culpability of institutions like the Catholic Church will never be fully explored within the criminal justice system, by way of prosecutions against individuals who failed to report clergy sex offenders to police.
The specific NSW conceal serious crime charge, section 316 of the NSW Crimes Act, is problematic and only applies to matters from the early 1990s. But at least NSW has such a charge on the books. Other Australian states don't.
That throws up another bigger picture issue. If the true culpability of the Catholic Church cannot be addressed in the criminal system, then we need a robust compensation system to address not just the crimes of the offenders, but the culpability of the church that knew of their offences against children.
And in Australia today that avenue, too, is blocked to victims, because of a High Court decision popularly known as the "Ellis defence", which forces victims back to the now discredited Towards Healing process that is administered by the Catholic Church.
Bigger picture, I know, and possibly eye-glazing, but these are the kind of holes that victims kept falling into, and which I became aware of after those first articles back in 2006. Which is why I ended up writing "There will be a royal commission because there must be", back in August 2012.
One final point about the "Peter Fox is to blame, nothing to see here" assessment of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry report. There were findings about me, reported in the Newcastle Herald but virtually nowhere else except for the ABC. They were:
The commission finds no evidence that McCarthy was involved, in league with Fox, in concealing evidence from police and hindering the Strike Force Lantle investigation. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that McCarthy was generally determined to provide to police as much information as possible so as to assist with the investigation of the church concealment allegations.
In other words, the police had alleged I had concealed evidence from police and hindered the Strike Force Lantle investigation, but Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, SC, found there was "no evidence" of that.
So Fox's allegations against police were not substantiated, and the NSW Police Force's (extremely serious, I might add) allegations against me were not substantiated, at all, which would appear to be a resounding media win under extraordinary circumstances.
And thanks for asking.
Joanne McCarthy has been a journalist for 34 years. She has been at the Newcastle Herald since 2002 and won the Gold Walkley in 2013 for reporting on child sexual abuse and the need for a royal commission. View her full profile here.
First posted 

Comments (82)

Comments for this story are closed, but you can still have your say.
  • sdrawkcaB:

    09 Jun 2014 3:21:41pm
    I am only a distance viewer on this...
    It seems the Salvos stepped on the front foot and apologized 4 years ago and are taking steps.

    Conversely, the catholic church have been dragged kicking and screaming through the whole process.
    • Mitor the Bold:

      09 Jun 2014 6:21:52pm
      The Catholic church's attitude seems to be that it's no big deal, that if it had the chance it would would do everything the same again, that the interfering secular authorities have no moral right to judge the church on this 'internal' matter, and that the greatest issue here is that it's all become so public. From the Pope down this is how the church has responded. They have expressed nothing but perfunctory regret and grudging apology - and only then after all other avenues for wriggling out of culpability have been exhausted.

      It was clear from day one of the Royal Commission that this whole issue would bland-out into background noise and that no-one would held accountable. In the UK one ex-DJ, Jimmy Saville, was shuffled around the BBC rather than being prosecuted, which has led to many sackings and much institutional change - in the Catholic church hundreds of paedophile priests have been shuffled around diocese and around the world with the church hierarchy in full knowledge of their actions and with the single intent to avoid accountability to victims and scrutiny to the outside world.

      It's time this insidious organisation was treated like a bikie gang - a meeting of clergy on the matter of paedophile priests should be regarded in the first instance as a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
      • Rabbithole:

        10 Jun 2014 10:27:44am

        Further to your argument, look how the Catholic Church protect a high profile American Bishops who protected the pedophile racket for wealthy American Priests in the US for years? They made him the president of Vatican City to exclude him from Lawful prosecution in the US and elsewhere.
  • awake:

    09 Jun 2014 3:27:58pm
    While I am not for one minute saying anything like this grotesque finding has happened in Australia - the bodies of 798 children in Ireland is somewhat of a blight on the church.

    God only knows what else has happened to children in the hands of the religious. For their sake keep going. Never mind the embarrassment for those in power.
  • Zing:

    09 Jun 2014 3:32:10pm
    Given the time which has passed, it is unlikely that many of these offenders will be brought to justice. It is also unlikely that the Church will be found accountable for the criminal actions of those it employed.

    The true point of this inquiry is the bigger picture: To take an organisation which society once held beyond scrutiny and finally drag them into the light for all to see.

    As a result, today's parents will think twice before letting their children become alterboys. Departments will think twice before putting children in state care. Our society will think twice before noting something odd and thinking "It's not my concern - I shouldn't say anything". 

    The victims may never achieve justice. But by telling their story, countless potential victims will be saved.
    • Val Doxan:

      09 Jun 2014 6:15:18pm
      The saddest part of all this to me is, even in the light of what we now know about the catholic church and the on-going failure of that organisation to admit to and address the problems, this catholic riddled government are now enforcing a school chaplaincy program.

      I do so hope that the High Court will overturn this on constitutional grounds.
      • whohasthefish:

        10 Jun 2014 1:01:09am
        The Chaplaincy Program in our schools is regressive and offensive to many, especially for those of other or no religious beliefs. It is quite ridiculous for our Government to force the Christian religions ,on our young people. I have no problem with the chaplains themselves, as I am sure the vast majority are well meaning good people, it is their organizations that are discredited and for good reason. The Catholic Church in particular has been dishonest and dishonourable, from the papacy down in their dealings with abuse victims and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest they are reformed at all. These things take time is an excuse and not an answer. They are disgusting in their self righteous arrogance and criminal cover ups. 

        This chaplaincy program does show this Government for what it is. A bunch of zealots who actually believe they know what is best for our children. Back to the 50's in every way is this governments ethos to the detriment of our society. When asked about this program, the LNP front bench has stated that it is the Federal Governments money and they will spend it as they see fit. Well, it is not their money it is ours, the Australian People. Unbelievable arrogance from an unbelievably out of touch government that simply ignores the wishes and needs of the People. 

        The sooner this government is ousted for their lies and their arrogance and the sooner religions of all faiths are removed from out state funded educational institutions the better. Studying religions in a historical context is legitimate but indoctrination and forced values is abhorrent and has no place in our secular schools. ps. $245,000,000 is the equivalent to 35,000,000 x $7 co payment visits to the doctor.
        • Will Hunt:

          10 Jun 2014 4:01:02pm
          you have entirely nailed it whohasthefish.. not sure what frisha is saying since you never said the chaplaincy program is a product of the catholic church. 

          further, when you put the dollar value like that... thats a lot of 'couple of beers'!
      • Frisha:

        10 Jun 2014 10:24:03am
        Wait one minute....the school chaplaincy program is NOT a product of the Catholic church. It is a product of the pentecostal churches and John Howard's government was one of its biggest supporters.Our local council was also very big on supporting them and the mayor belonged to one of their churches.
        • Miowarra:

          10 Jun 2014 3:37:20pm
          No Frisha, as Val Doxan clearly said, its continuation and support is a product of this Catholic-riddled government.

          A Catholic-riddled government and the Catholic church. It's a difference of no consequence.

          I draw your attention to one of the fundamental laws of geometry.The Law of Congruence.

          "Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other"
    • DannyS:

      09 Jun 2014 7:19:26pm

      Some parents will think twice before letting their sons become altar boys, but there will still be altar boys. And government departments have no other option than to put children in state care. This Royal Commission has had the effect of putting everyone under scrutiny, the Catholic Church, The Church of England, the Salvation Army and other institutions that have hidden the evil doers in their ranks for so long. The evil individuals that would have joined such organisations in the future will most likely find other ways to destroy our young people and that is what we must look out for.

      And much, much more needs to be done to stop the growing trend of abuse of children by other children. And there is growing evidence that children are being groomed by paedophiles to bring other children into their despicable world.

      BTW, I went to catholic schools and I was even an altar boy. There was never any inappropriate behaviour of any description. I have been an atheist for many decades, but for no other reason than I think religion is quite frankly laughable.
      • Corbachov:

        10 Jun 2014 4:28:56am
        So based on your scientific sample of one, the culpability of the catholic church is overblown? I can't understand what your point is, if indeed there is a point. The greatest victory the catholic church has had was to broaden the commission to include other denominations and state run facilities. The revelations that brought about the commissions were all to do with the Catholic Church. Subsequent muddying of the waters make it almost certain that no substantial reforms will be forced upon this child raping institution. For what it's worth, I was brought up Catholic as well.
        • Lee:

          10 Jun 2014 12:46:27pm
          So you say that abuse never happened in other institutions? Are you negating or downplaying the experiences of people who were abused in other institutions? 

          Abuse has been systematic in MANY institutions public/private/religious for many, many years and cover-ups in all institutions was also systematic. By scapegoating one institution you are denying justice to all the other victims. The one thing that this Royal Commission HAS shown is that the abuse was not confined to one religious institution but was a fault of society as a whole and that is the situation that must be addressed instead of the narrow focus on one organisation.

          I was working with a survivors group when the Royal Commission was first proposed and was only going to focus on the Catholic Church, several of the victims I was working with who had been abused in Salvation Army homes were devastated and were horrified at the thought that they would be forgotten and the abuse that they suffered would be swept under the carpet. Much of the push for an expansion of the commissions role came from the survivors groups not the Catholic Church.
  • Skeptic:

    09 Jun 2014 3:36:43pm
    Thank you, Joanne, for your tireless efforts. You represent the best ideals of journalism; a frank and fearless search for the truth and justice for the disadvantaged. Peter Fox may have been mistaken about his allegations that there was a conspiracy by his colleagues to cover up the crimes of the Church, but considering how unsuccessful he was in motivating them to act, is this so surprising? The fact that an inquiry has finally revealed the true horror of the situation vindicates his efforts, one hundred percent. Something dreadful was, and had been, happening, but the NSW Police Force was not doing enough - for whatever reason - to protect the vulnerable from being preyed upon by monsters. Let us never have such a situation ever again!
  • paul:

    09 Jun 2014 3:39:41pm
    As more information comes out of Galway Ireland
    it becomes clear what an evil institution the church
    is.To allow such monstrous treatment of children
    obviously on an international scale.
    If this is happening in the first world.
    What in God's name is happening in the third! 
    • Mitor the Bold:

      09 Jun 2014 6:31:18pm
      "If this is happening in the first world. What in God's name is happening in the third!"

      And perhaps more importantly, if this is happening in Christian institutions where such things can now be spoken about, what is happening in Muslim and Jewish institutions where such speculation is forbidden entirely and risks bringing 'dishonour' to the families of those involved? Are we to believe there's something peculiar about Jesus that makes men abuse children whereas the other religions are all sweetness and light?
    • JohnnoH:

      09 Jun 2014 8:37:06pm
      paul the Church is not an evil institution that is just your persoanl bias showing through. Yes there were cover ups by people in authority, but not by the many, many innocent priest and lay people who want this brought out into the open and have it dealt with.
      • paul:

        10 Jun 2014 7:52:23am
        And how many hundreds of years of inquisitions and repression 
        does the church have behind it. only to be dragged screaming
        and kicking into the light.Not by its own leaders but by outsiders
        that it would have probably burnt at the stake 300 years ago.
        Sorry but where exactly have these good and righteous people
        been all these years?
        • Erik the Red:

          10 Jun 2014 10:10:01am
          The good and righteous people have always been there and are still here now. The nun who cradles and comforts the dying child in the gutter of a 3rd world slum is a product of the same Catholic Church.

          Your argument can also be used to demonise the current white Australia for the crimes condoned and covered up by the early European settlers against indigenous peoples. Only extremists and haters judge the people of this time for the crimes of people of another time. Repairing the damage is something else altogether.

          Other than criminal acts, would each of us be judged on only the bad things we have done in our lives or on the balance of the good and the bad? Would we have our family judged by all of the crimes of our ancestors? Many of the criminals in our jails had their crimes covered up for fear of bringing shame to their family, until they could be covered up no more.

          The Royal Commission into Institutional Response is appropriate and has been exposing the behaviour of institutions that, at worst, condoned these crimes and at best concealed them.

          The Catholic Church, and others, have said that they would hand over investigations to an independent body and contribute financially to the independent body. They have said that they will hand over all of the previous settlements to this commission for reconsideration and would increase compensation if required. They encourage the prosecution of the criminals in their ranks. They now recognise that no matter how diligently they attempt to make good on the suffering of the victims through an internal process it is impossible to do so. The victims, understandably don't want to talk to the perpetrator.

          Finally the institutions concerned realise that the victim is the ONLY one requiring care, repair and compensation and that is best dealt with by an independent commission where their case can be heard without judgement and they can seek justice without the glare of publicity that the media, legal and advocacy system thrust upon them.

          We have a set of independent bodies that moderate the behaviour of corporations to protect the rights of shareholders, employees and customers. They prosecute individuals and impose fines on the company who break the law but don't punish innocent shareholders or the customers for the crimes of the corporations or its executive.

          We need to venerate those victims brave enough to survive and bring us to where we are now. Thank you all, I wish you a future life full of happiness.

          It is only the catholic haters, radical journalists and the lawyers who want to perpetuate the suffering of the victims of the crimes of these institutions. For some of them, only the destruction of the church will be enough.

          Most of the rest of us want to bring to the victims justice and peace for their suffering. Repair is something that may be impossible to deliver, but it is rarely achieved through rev
        • RobP:

          10 Jun 2014 10:12:24am
          "Sorry but where exactly have these good and righteous people been all these years?"

          Those people have always been there, but in the examples you cite, they have been out-muscled by bigger forces.

          The Church is just an empty slate, an inert entity, that is only as good as the activities it carries out which is, in turn, a function of the motives of the prime movers within it. Plenty of bad things have been done in the name of the Church, but that has normally been instigated at a high political level in the past, when the Church sought power by aligning itself with national Governments.
      • leafygreens:

        10 Jun 2014 11:40:22am
        All the time 'good' christians turned to the church before they turned to the law, even when they could see there had been nothing done, they were also hiding the truth.

        The church may not be evil, but neither is it the bastion of morality & goodness it professes to be. It would do well to admit it is a human institution, containing flawed people on both sides of the altar. 
    • Erik the Red:

      10 Jun 2014 11:31:00am
      @paul Did you understand the story about the bodies in the septic tank or did you just swallow the headline?

      The tank was discovered in 1975 by children playing in a field, it is believed that they accumulated over almost a century. So at a rate of maybe up to ten a year.

      Ireland during this time was a third world country and the Catholic Church provided education and health care to the poorest of the poor, the state provided nothing. They took in the people that polite society rejected and helped them survive.

      An unwed mother was considered a pariah and a sinner. Our current moral framework cannot be caste back to the treatment of unwed mothers of the 60s, let alone centuries ago.

      Today we consider an aborted foetus to be medical waste and treat it accordingly. The rate of accumulation in the tank could be accounted for by still births alone.

      I know that there are corpses of older children have been found but there are many explanations as to why that might be. There are times when the disposal of a corpse is one of expedience and not ceremony.

      There is an investigation underway with the full co-operation of the Catholic Church to discover the circumstances. This is not a cover-up but a great sadness to be fully documented.

      There are historical records of those interred and hopefully they will be given recognition as something more than medical waste.

      • Patricia:

        10 Jun 2014 1:35:11pm
        Australian journalism muddied the facts of this story. The researcher of the 800 documented deaths of children DID NOT at any time suggest the bodies were discarded in a septic tank. The 10 (or so) bodies discovered on the site of what MAY HAVE BEEN a septic tank was a separate story. See the facts (as far as they are presently known) in The Irish Times. Take note also of the Irish outrage at Australian reporting of the story.
  • Ted:

    09 Jun 2014 4:09:52pm
    These were terrible crimes. There is no valid reason why NSW cannot deal with it properly. The press should be asking why.
    • taxedoff:

      09 Jun 2014 5:25:04pm
      there were big crimes and also smaller ones and many have been hushed up. I attended a catholic school in the 60's and 70's and there was a year 7 teacher who most of us considered to be odd. in secondary school the subject somehow arose during a lesson and I and 2 others named the year 7 teacher as touching up the students. the outcome was immediate being picked up and literally dropped kicked up to the front of the class along with being slapped around the head. the 3 of us were subjected to some physical abuse and a lot of verballing . being intimidated by the reaction of the marist brother we decided to let it drop and not to tell our parents as to what had happened. fast track 20 years later and my mum sent me a clipping from the papers about the year 7 teacher being sentenced to prison for child abuse at another school . at the time of his prison sentence he was then 70 years old and I wondered if the brother who had over reacted to our claims was in fact aware or part of the child abuse as both worked in the next catholic school together. there were other stories and I like countless others were just brushed aside and things hushed up.
  • themoor:

    09 Jun 2014 4:23:24pm
    Those that covered up the abuse or turned a blind eye to it also need to be punished. Their crime is far worse.

    After all that has happened it is very disturbing to find that people are still trying to conceal abuse within the Defence Forces. That must not happen because failure to deal with it has terrible consequences. 

    Those that commit or conceal abuse must be dealt with no matter what their position is or how well they are regarded and / or connected politically. To do otherwise is not acceptable.
    • DannyS:

      09 Jun 2014 7:29:00pm
      ....."Those that covered up the abuse or turned a blind eye to it also need to be punished. Their crime is far worse.".....

      Yes they most definitely do, but no it isn't.

      Who is worse, the murderer or the family member who gives them money to make their escape?

      • DT:

        10 Jun 2014 8:25:48am
        Whoever has the biggest bank balance.
  • ScottBE:

    09 Jun 2014 4:33:19pm
    I think most recognise the bigger picture here. I see the attack on Mr Fox as being merely a legalistic strategy to release the Police from culpability. The arguments made to discredit Mr Fox and the decision by Ms Cunneen are certainly limited to legal argument and not to actual facts. 
  • Harry:

    09 Jun 2014 4:36:26pm
    Joanne, why the special focus only on the Catholic Church?

    I would think in those un-enlightened times Newcastle state schools, sporting clubs swimming clubs, hospitals would likewise have been fertile grounds for child sexual abuse. No? 

    You see what I don't get about our "new enlightened times" is the focus is too narrow. 

    Every night we're watching grim newsreaders tut-tutting a British Court sexual abuse case case of an 80 years old.... a child of 1960's sex revolution....so where are all the other rock band hippie druggies 60's rock and roll groupie victims?

    Answer: No interested in victims! Just tall poppies, saucy police corruptions and a juicy story that bashes 'officials'. 

    God help us if today if these are enlightened times. 

    • whogoesthere:

      09 Jun 2014 5:20:07pm
      Like it or not, it's the sheer, utter, hypocrisy. Sporting clubs, entertainers, State schools, etc have never pretended to be the moral voice of 'God'. 
    • Miowarra:

      09 Jun 2014 5:25:06pm
      "Joanne, why the special focus only on the Catholic Church?"

      Every investigation must gave a focus. 

      Why the Catholic Church? 
      Because they've been shown to be the greatest offenders over the longest time period and regular investigations have finally encouraged victims to have some hope of redress. 

      Remember that they were still castrating unwilling boys for their choirs until the early 19thC, too.

      However, that sect hasn't been the only 'focus". 

      Remember that the Anglicans faced up to their responsibilities (except for Gov-Gen Hollingsworth). The Salvos have admitted their faults and have cleaned out their house as also have the Scouts and YMCA.

      Of the secular institutions, Parramatta Girls Home, the RAN and ADFA have been and are still undergoing their own cleansing.

      Tell me again where this "narrowness of focus" might be, please.

      Of what has been alleged in the UK, Saville was not able to defend himself in court against his attackers who have had an unopposed opportunity to drag his name through the sensationalist newspapers of filth and for the rest, let's wait until the court delivers a verdict.
      • Ann:

        09 Jun 2014 6:17:55pm
        We hear about schools, government orgs and other institutions - in fact, nearly every kind of institution - being involved in child sex scandals, but we hardly ever hear the call for dismantling the whole shebang like we do with the Catholic church or other faith-based orgs.

        I think people need to realise that when you have ANY organisation that has a power structure, you create the opportunity for that power to be abused. Obviously when children are involved that abuse will be worse.

        This means any organisation needs transparency, the ability for anonymous whistleblowing, and as much as possible, a vertical power structure.

        It doesn't matter what the org is based around or what it does - some people will always abuse power if it is given to them, especially over the vulnerable like children.

        Don't pretend that by getting rid of "backwards" groups like churches that all orgs will be cleansed of abuses. They'll keep happening as long as we don't keep our eye on them.
        • Mitor the Bold:

          09 Jun 2014 9:04:12pm
          Ann - you are missing the point. It's not about the abuse of children - it's about the institutional covering-up of the abuse. It's not about individual abuses of power - as the church continually tries to portray it - it's the organisational abuse of power and community trust. It's not a few bad apples it's the whole barrel.

          A secular organisation is transparent, in theory at least. The catholic church is opaque and is fighting to remain that way. Priests have fought and won the right to keep crimes to themselves if learned in confession. In other words, the church is fighting to protect the problem rather than solve it - this is why it is so reluctant to admit culpability as an organisation. Comparing the church to a scout hall is playing into their hands.

          The internal church 'Towards Healing' process for examining crimes against children should be dismantled immediately - would you allow a scout master to investigate a claim of child abuse in the scouts? Then why allow a church with a history of both abuse and cover-up to do it? There's only one reason they want to keep it internal and it's the same reason today as it was in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990's, 2000s etc.
        • Kerrie:

          10 Jun 2014 11:48:24am
          The Towards Healing program is not and was not an investigation into claims of abuse. If there was any chance the claims have basis, then the claims were accepted. So if someone said they were abused as a student at school x then f the records show both parties were at the school during that time then the claim was accepted. 

          The aim of the program was for the victim to find some kind of healing. In the best instances the mediation would result in the victim of abuse finally understanding, through dialogue with senior clerics, why they were chosen and why the Church did nothing. The understanding and apology were as important as the reimbursement for damages caused by the abuse. I've heard that some victims dislike the compensation aspect because it makes them feel like they are putting a price on their abuse. I suppose it makes them feel like they have prostituted themselves, but I'm just guessing. In the worst mediations, the process degenerated into an informal negotiation of the victim's payout amount. The unstated bias of the mediator was an additional problem. 

          The Catholic Church and many organisations have been culpable in hiding the truth. Other posters have questioned why the Catholic Church and other religious organisations are allowed to continue. Part of the problem is that these organisations do the welfare work that the State misses. When Ireland didn't have a program for unmarked mothers, the Catholic Church stepped in. When South Australia didn't have public education for poor people, the Catholic Church stepped in. When the Australian government doesn't give people enough money to live on, St Vincent De Paul step in.

          If you want more transparency and less religious involvement in welfare programs then the government and non-religious organisations have to do more heavy lifting. In short stop giving religious organisations things to do (eg the treatment of boat-travelling refugees and insane budget cuts). 

          I should point out that I think the Chaplaincy program is wrong and irrational in public schools.
        • Bazza:

          10 Jun 2014 12:11:43am
          Poooooooooooor catholic church - oh wait, no, they willfully and systematically protected child molesters for centuries right up until the modern day.

          Again, this isn't about the fact that some priests molested children - it's about the fact that the entire church power structure continually protected them from any fall out just to save their own precious organization's reputation. This should be neither forgiven or forgotten and should lead to us cutting back on power and influence of all churches - a first step is to tax them properly, the accountability that brings would shine a light into their illegal activities. 

          A second, and obvious step, is to stop channeling government funds to the church's purposes - no chaplains unless they want to pay for them out of their own massive hoard of cash, it'd be less money to hide child molesters from the law with.

          Note - this applies to all "faith" based organizations - not just the Catholic church, all of them have tawdry histories and don't respect the rights of women or children.
        • Miowarra:

          10 Jun 2014 6:31:01am
          Ann protested: "...dismantling the whole shebang like we do with the Catholic church or other faith-based orgs."

          You're conflating two separate issues, Ann.

          There _are_ "calls" to unravel the links between faith-based organisations and the public purse as well as "calls" for such to be completely disassociated from anything to do with children, but I've never seen any such calls to dismantle any of them completely.

          The reasons are that, for the social value of the community work they do, the social COST (both monetary and in the propagation of untruth as fact) is too high.

          "Schools, government orgs and other institutions" are subject to levels of public scrutiny and control which the faith-based organisations are not. We've seen in so many other aspects of our modern life that self-regulation just doesn't work. 

          External oversight is essential if we want to eliminate those abuses of power of which you spoke. 
          Government can do that but the churches have demonstrated that they can't be trusted to adhere to community standards or report criminal behaviour by its agents to the civil authorities..
        • RobP:

          10 Jun 2014 11:44:43am
          Ann, I think the correct word in this context is "cleansing". The Church, its practices and its processes, need to be subjected to the cleansing effect of scrutiny. That way, what is good about the Church is retained while the bad bits are separated from it so that they can't do any more damage.
  • Miss Information:

    09 Jun 2014 4:49:44pm
    Keep up the good work Joanne, as long as people like yourself keep asking the hard questions justice will always be on the minds of those people that keep stacking the deck in favour of the mongrels and those too gutless or self-interested to help the real victims of so many crimes over so many years....special commission? what a load of rubbish, it should have been a royal commission to begin with.
  • chris:

    09 Jun 2014 5:19:11pm
    I'm sorry, but has not Justice McLellan himself said that 68-95% of sexual abuse (depending on the state) occurs between school students? It does not involve an adult at all. Read it for yourself in his 2014 Families Australia Oration.

    So the media needs to get onto the real story, i.e. schools. That is what the Royal Commission will be hammering home when it reports.

    The Royal Commission if anything will be a salutary lesson that the Catholic Church cannot be singled out as it has been for too long now.
    • kolbe:

      09 Jun 2014 6:39:30pm
      I am bewildered at the lack of reference or response to two recent ABC articles. On 30/4/14 Dr Freda Briggs describes a horrifying report into young children (from pre school age) sexually abusing their peers. Then on 6/6/14 the ABC reports on almost 1000 cases of serious sexual assaults between students reported by schools to state education departments across the nation. By all means recoil in horror at the stories of the past but sexual assault of children is still happening, and regularly, across the nation. We can't change the past but we can definitely jump up and scream about the current situation and hopefully stop the torment, damage and pain that children are experiencing today. Doesn't anybody else get this??
      • Lady Cecilia Longbottom:

        10 Jun 2014 2:35:10pm
        Exploratory sexual behaviour among children is a normal stage in their development.

        If there's coercion involved it might be "abuse" but otherwise schools (and helicopter parents) need to stand back and let them learn by doing.

        The schools are placed in an invidious position because they're "mandatory reporters" so any sexual activity is reported and the media (and apparently yourself) are happy to lump every instance into one basket call it all "abuse".

        You don't "jump up and scream" about other physical learning activities, throwing and catching a ball for example. Why do so just because it's about sexual matters?

        So, to answer your initial question, there's a lack of reference or response to the reports because there's nothing new or horrible about what's being reported, only the usual distortion of reportage.
  • D R Frenkel:

    09 Jun 2014 5:33:52pm
    This is a very important article by Joanne McCarthy. Indeed the Royal Commission's rebuke against Peter Fox curiously rings alarm bells. The man who heroically and honestly exposed dark systemic truths is shunned and discredited when he should be lauded. How is it that the concealment and accessory behaviour of senior members of the Church have resulted in no prosecutions? How is the Church not accountable for the abuses? What really happened inside police command? What hasn't come out? The right of the continued existence of a very powerful institution is at question here.
    • AJS:

      09 Jun 2014 6:14:43pm
      The man who heroically and honestly exposed dark systemic truths is shunned and discredited

      Yes - that's because he was shown in the Royal Commission to be wrong

      What happened inside Police Command. What hasn't come out?

      All the information did come out and it concluded there was no case to answer.

      The independent umpire has spoken, read the decision
      • Science-Lover:

        10 Jun 2014 12:50:21am
        Isn't it a bit strange that none of the matters brought up by the author of this story, or Peter Fox, ever get thoroughly explored by the Newcastle police force?
        Makes me wonder, anyway!
  • GrumpiSkeptic:

    09 Jun 2014 5:35:02pm
    I have been following the child abuse cases very closely even before the establishment of the Royal Commission. I found it really hard to accept the fact that people who held the position of trust could absolutely trash people's faiths in goodness, and left a trail of victims behind, so many years later ! 

    Why those dirty old men were allowed to carry on in such manners? I often asked myself. Where is the spiritual meaning in all these? Where is God? Who is in charge? Where is the goodness in these bastards ?

    Then it took one courageous amigo named Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox to come out and blew the whistle on the establishments. According to him, the cops and the religious mobs were getting too close for comfort. I thought perhaps that is why many serious cases of child abuse never got the spot light shone on them.

    Then, thanks to Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, and Ms. Joanne McCarthy, a Royal Commission was set up, many years too late I believe.

    It came as a real shock to me when I learned that Peter Fox copped some blames for being "overly zealous" ! For goodness sake, wasn't it because of his pit-bull like attitudes to finally bring about the inquiries? 

    So now he is a tarnished figure ? As I suspected, something is going on between all the establishments, the cops, the churches, and those with "blind faith" placed on them, believing that they will always do the right thing by the vulnerable folks. How wrong ?
    • Ann:

      09 Jun 2014 6:21:25pm
      We also tend to have "blind faith" that our children won't be preyed on by teachers, or scout group leaders, or that children in government institutional care won't be abused, or that children lodged at boarding schools won't be abused, etc. etc.

      Unfortunately we only now seem to be entering into an era where we don't dismiss children's experiences and tales out of hand or discomfort.

      Going forward I think more states need laws on the books that punish people who know about abuse and don't come forward with it. 

      Both in situations with children and in the armed forces, where abuse also seems to be rife.
      • Bazza:

        10 Jun 2014 12:13:12am
        If the entire school and education system was keyed towards hiding such predatory teachers? If the government protected them from on high? If they continued this behavior for centuries and when caught cried 'oh help, we're being persecuted for our beliefs!'? 

        We'd burn the lot of them to the ground.
  • Sally:

    09 Jun 2014 5:53:58pm
    It didn?t happen today but a long time ago, and we all know that it lasts for such a long time even until now. If the government in NSW or some organizations solved this problem effective. I think you won?t stand out and fight for the kids? rights again now. And we have to know that it doesn?t only happen among Catholic diocese but also schools, hospitals, clubs and everywhere. What should we do to prevent it? What is the plans of the ?royal commission??
  • AJS:

    09 Jun 2014 6:07:53pm
    Perhaps the police didn't want to work with Peter Fox. 
    It seems now in the light of the findings that they had good reason.
    The trouble with loose cannons is they go off in all the wrong directions and rarely hit the intended target. 
    And then there are those that follow them - writing articles and gathering awards without really asking their source to substantiate their claims. 
    Like Mr Fox, I think the Walkley has had its reputation tarnished a little as well
  • Curious one:

    09 Jun 2014 6:30:13pm
    Well done Joanne. You should have been knighted or "damed" in the birthday honours list. And so should Peter Fox. Anyone with a grain of sense will know that the rebuke he received from the commission is totally wrong. You have both been complete stars.
  • blixen:

    09 Jun 2014 6:47:22pm
    Thank You, Joanne!

    Your courage and Peter Fox's too, brought about this Special Commission.

    You have been vindicated, both of you.

    And I fully support Fox's allegation of a Church-Police "Catholic mafia", whose object was to suppress public knowledge of priests abusing minors, for the sake of the good name of the Church.

    The Church is a good business, like leeches preying on the gullible public.

    If the truth came out and was generally known in the community, the donations might dry up. 

    Jesus said, speaking about the Pharisees:

    "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?..." Matthew 12:34

    But I don't see much improving actually. There are so many stupid people out there, just so driven to worship anything, like these puffed up abusers in their red cassocks and gold head gear. There's one born every minute, as they saying goes.

    And the Church, Roman Catholic as well as Anglican, is so so powerful. It is almost that no-one has the power or will to hold them to account.

  • mike fitzgerald:

    09 Jun 2014 7:09:21pm
    Good words and applaud you for seeking the truth despite the smoke screen put up by the authorities. Let's see if the commission findings stand up to scrutiny by the royal commission.

    However, please refrain from using images of Jesus and Mary in your articles.ntheynhave NOTHIHG TO DO WITH the behaviour of paedophiles or the church, sadly!
  • Nina:

    09 Jun 2014 7:30:41pm
    Giving power to authorities who claim to take responsibility for our safety and our souls, particularly that of children are a farce. We are too eager to hand responsibility to those who claim to have the moral high ground and assume they will be good gatekeepers.

    Adults need to take critical control of where they and their children are and with whom and to make sure the people they are with are transparent. 

    Often embarrassment and religious scaremongering fend of intelligent scrutiny, true transparency welcomes scrutiny. We are pressured to dump kids and race off to work that our lives are at stake if we are late whilst brushing aside the tantrums and reluctance that are our children's alarm bells.
  • SteveS:

    09 Jun 2014 7:56:48pm
    As a Catholic man, a resident of the Hunter Valley, a student of both Catholic nuns and Catholic brothers, I have witnessed first hand the inhumane behaviour of these people and have, even as old as I am, never truly understood what motivated a human being to debase the life and the dignity of another, when so young and so vulnerable, and to leave these so fractured, to dwell in the depths of such inhumanity, with neither anyone seemingly caring for their well-being, or prepared to do anything for them

    Along came Peter Fox and Joanne McCarthy, two people who made "game-changing" decisions, two people for whom those who suffered so much, now owe so much, but a debt, those two will never seek to exploit.

    Margaret Cuneen's report represents no 'catharsis" for me, I wonder if it does for other Catholic people. Her determinations leave more questions unanswered than answered and it smacks of an attempt to protect, rather than expose. Fox is the scapegoat, McCarthy, well she has to be contained and the fallout has to be controlled.

    Sad to think that already, this is a "no news" item, relegated to obscurity, lost somewhere in the 24 hours news cycle.

    The latest news from Ireland; how can this be. What is it, more than 600 young children dead, their bodies disposed of in a septic tank. Children aged from infancy to 6 years. Their crime; they were born to unmarried women/girls and under "conservative" Catholic teaching/dogma, as a child born to parents in an unmarried relationship, the child could not be baptised, and in death, it could not be buried in consecrated ground.

    I have lived a long time, but never have I felt more saddened for the life of a child than I do having read this report. To those who perpetrated such injustice, I have nothing but utter contempt, and for a "church" to cultivate such doctrine, I simply ask; how could you?.

    So many questions, so few answers, how can any one believe in religion and the sanctity of life of the individual when one reads of these atrocities.

    I am ashamed, I am disgusted, I feel a great burden of weight for believing in an institution that I thought had relevance in my life. I feel the Catholic Church is demonstrably damaged and in becoming that, it has irrevocably recalibrated my own and I expect, many other peoples faith as well.

    For the God that they believe in, may he have pity on them.
  • John S.:

    09 Jun 2014 7:56:58pm
    Scandal happens to all kinds of people but not limited.
    If I say that every occupation do has someone doing completely reverse stuff, like the government make use of people instead of providing service, it is just trying to justify the acts talking here. I really felt said to every accident no matter who committed it. But I am also somehow became anesthetic because people around the cities, always doing what we are supposed not to do.
  • Corbachov:

    09 Jun 2014 8:20:49pm
    Two kids playing in an Irish field come across a concrete pit lid. It has a cracj and so they move it, revealing bones inside. They contact the authorities, who in turn contact the catholic church, after all, the pit lid was found on the land of a catholic institution for unwed mothers and children.
    The local archdiocese know exactly what to do, and so they pour a new concrete slab and say a prayer. It will be a further 20 years before the pit is exumed, revealing the bodies of 798 children aged between 6 days and 5 years.
    This shocking, yet true story tells you everything you need to know about the catholic church and their ability to accept responsibility for their crimes.
    This dreadful organisation has long since lost it's last right to public respect. It should and must be dismantled by the state in response to the systematic child rape that they have enabled, carried out and shamelessly covered up.
    I have seen what they have gotten away with in Ireland and Australia, countries with fully developed legal and judicial systems.
    I go to bed each night and shiver with the thought of what they have likely done and continue to do in places like Thailand, Peru, Cambodia and the many other countries where they operate without the oversight of such institutions.
  • JohnnoH:

    09 Jun 2014 8:31:29pm
    Child Sexual Abuse needs to be stamped out, no matter where it occurs. The Catholic Church has paid a very heavy price for its cover ups and will pay even heavier. The same goes for the Salvation Army, State run child homes and orphanages. There are a few areas that are not deing looked at. Namely child sexual abuse in the home, child sexual abuse by organisations other than religious or state run organisations, and child sexual abuse by the military namely apprentices. That $7M ripped out of the current royal commission could have gone a long towards that, instead of going into a politically motivated witch hunt into pink batts.
  • Alice:

    09 Jun 2014 8:40:54pm
    Covered with religious coat of rascality, how pathetic it is!
  • Avargo:

    09 Jun 2014 8:47:27pm
    I fail to understand how any group, religious or otherwise, can think it will ultimately be better to hide these hideous paedophiles. 
    Rather than out them for their vile abusive behaviour and have them gone form their group.

    What it says to me about these groups, is that they have no respect or empathy for their children. 
    They have no care or any idea of consideration for the future of their organisation, which of course is the children they allow to be defiled and abused.

    And it is " allow ". Because by not casting out the paedophiles the organisation is allowing and condoning that behaviour.

    And by trying to shift the focus of media attention away from the heart of the issues is just another example of the corrupt form of thinking that is prevalent within these organisations. 

    Shame on them all.
  • IB:

    09 Jun 2014 8:48:14pm
    Here is a bigger picture. Who is talking about the underlying cause of the atrocities committed against the children? Why will these atrocities stop? We punish thieves and murderers, but stealing and killing keep on coming. How about stopping to think what would be effective action to bring these kind of crimes to an end? How about, as a starting point, a life of celibacy means ineligible to work alone with children?
  • maj:

    09 Jun 2014 9:48:38pm
    Look..over there...that's the villian....

    Can someone inform me of the proportional amount of abuse that occurs within 'the family'?

    It must be very insignificant given that no one is sharing those family experiences.

    And I applaud the scientific conclusion, repeated here, that if we all hold hands and think nice thoughts the heads of all those religious god bothers will explode in heavenly retribution and humanity will be saved from this evil forever and ever. 

    Besides, what point is there in holding a royal commission into the abuse occurring in families? We all know that just doesn't happen. We know the real villain is over there...not in here. Not in families. 
    • Big M:

      10 Jun 2014 8:46:30am
      Maj, thanks for your ignorant, ill informed statement. Do you think that families do absolutely nothing when childhood sexual abuse occurs? Of course not. Just because it isn't released into the media doesn't mean nothing has been done. Grow up!!
  • markt:

    09 Jun 2014 9:59:50pm
    Lovely to see the apologists for the catholic church coming out to defend their faith. "Look over there, look over there, no-one's abusing any children here, and anyway even if they are everyone else is doing it too!"

    You people make me feel ashamed to be human.
  • Frank O'Connor:

    09 Jun 2014 10:02:18pm
    Mmmm ... that's pretty much what i thought when i read the findings of the Special Commission. Because if one concentrated on the findings they basically excused the NSW authorities, and blamed the messenger.

    Ergo: It was a political cover up for police and child protection authorities in NSW.

    The facts remain that:

    1. Egregious child molestation and other criminal activities occurred for years in NSW without any of the responsible authorities either bringing it to a halt or investigating it.

    2. It was only after Peter Fox and the media got the light of publicity shone of the issue that the problem came out.

    3. Every subsequent enquiry and commission federally and across the states has revealed that child molestation, child abuse and cruelty to children was the rule rather than the exception in state, religious and public benevolent institutions for many many decades. Thousands of children were abused across Australia ... and the authorities (who have now been so conveniently exonerated) did absolutely nothing.

    4. None of these enquiries would have even gotten off the ground without whistle blowers like Peter Fox.

    My contempt for this NSW exercise in justifying the neglect and incompetence of their authorities is therefore beyond measure. 

    Pity the compliant media didn't take the time to examine the report more sceptically ... but there are so few media outlets with principle and conviction left nowadays.

    Lets see what they do when the Royal Commission and Vicorian reports get released. 

    It may be a vain hope, but I'd really like to see some integrity and backbone in our Fourth Estate.
  • Emo:

    09 Jun 2014 10:24:02pm
    The bigger picture is that not only do the victims suffer, but more so the whole Australian community. These poor, tragic people are ill for a lifetime, they do not attain according to their potential, we miss out on their contribution, their relationships and family life are destroyed, we pay the bills and the Church can rely on the legal system to deny and procrastinate. It is so premeditated and, yes, so EVIL. There would be so much stuff that we will never know about and the Church will get away with. They very nearly got away with the babies bodies in the septic. This is not church business, it is everyone's business.
  • Bazza:

    10 Jun 2014 12:06:15am
    Tax all religious institutions - if they are actually spending significant funds on charity (estimates are at about 2 percent of total income spent that way) then they can claim it against all their other sources of income.

    As it is we're giving them a free ride to become the largest land owners as well as acting as a brothel for child molesters. By making them accountable on the fiscal level at least then we can tell just how much official sanction and protection is being given to those who ignore Australian law and damage Australian children.

    Also get the chaplains out of the schools - no excuse for them to be there whatsoever.
  • Paul Williams:

    10 Jun 2014 12:49:54am
    Male sexuality is opportunistic, and there seems to be no greater aphrodisiac than vulnerability. Wherever there are women, children and even men without protectors, these people swoop.

    In the past, we trusted no-one, and women were guarded and chaperoned. There was little doubt concerning the intentions of the male sex at large.

    As I entered a Christian Brothers' boarding school to try the religious life in my last 2 years of school, I feel comfortable saying that these 15 year olds were high-minded. It wasn't the life for me, as celibacy was so daunting. 

    It is my belief that some of these young men, having committed to this life (under considerable pressure of various sorts) lost their religious faith, but were unable to return to their families - the tenor of the times in the wider Catholic community declared such people to be "failed religious" and they were a shame to their families (though this was denied). Trapped in a sterile life without the consolation of religious faith, some turned to perverted sex- with the vulnerable. The drive of the Catholic Church to recruit people to the priesthood and the other clergy should not be under-estimated...and the drive to keep them there, no matter what. 

    Yes, as one of the boys I was at that school with, and who was himself a victim with a tragic story http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/4978017
    said, "when all this comes out, as it will, it will hurt many good people, but it will not surprise them, because they have always known."
    I wrote a short (22K) memoir called "My Two Years with God, or How I lost my Vocation."
    My colleague's book was 70K and was called "With God behind the eight-ball."

    I agree that the crime was greater because of the unbelievable betrayal of trust.
    As for the current governmental Catholics, I am ashamed but also puzzled with their support of the Chaplaincy program, which seems to be more Protestant in tone - I agree it has no place in state schools.
    • Talismancer:

      10 Jun 2014 2:07:22pm
      How vile. You claim that they MUST have lost their faith to perform such atrocities? That's akin to the Catholic stooges claiming "this is all really the fault of atheism". This is classic slimy "No True Scotsman" fallacy. It's simply a weaselly excuse to claim that they weren't actually Christians when they clearly WERE.
  • Emotional wreck:

    10 Jun 2014 3:45:21am
    Your comments saying "Nothing to see here move along" are very similar to the views of the NSW Police Force when they were caught pirating and stealing software from Micro Focus.
    Nobody has fallen on their sword for that institutional crime!
  • ij:

    10 Jun 2014 7:38:26am
    The big picture is that the catholic church continues to commit atrocities, and is being protected by powerful politicians.

    Bikie gangs have been outlawed for less.
  • Factsseeker:

    10 Jun 2014 7:45:39am
    There are many things wrong with the focus of this Royal Commission. Firstly, and perhaps the most disturbing, is that the commission only looks at sex abuse when this type of abuse only makes up about 10% of all child abuse. The research shows clearly that othger forms of abuse is just as permanently damaging and that emotional abuse is even more damaging than sex abuse. Yet, all the media and the government are interested in is the 'sex' part of it because it is more emotive and sensational. This has got less to do with children than it has with sensation. We need to have a Royal Commission into child abuse if we want to protect our children. Secondly, there is plenty of evidence from the US that shows that female perpetrators of child sex abuse is much more common than is admitted in Australia. Will there be even one women investigated by the Royal Commission ? There is something very wrong here.
  • Scott:

    10 Jun 2014 8:07:51am
    We should treat religious organisations like any other. Take away their tax exempt status. Hold board members responsible. Gail them.
  • Breach of peace:

    10 Jun 2014 8:13:45am
    You seem to forget that the Roman Catholic Church-State has afoot in each camp. It is a vile organisation that 'proclaims' it is Christian and it has a small piece of land in Italy. These were crimes committed by perverted and vile priests and covered up or moved on by other priests or bishops. The problem is that politicians including the ex-Premier Barry O'Farrell are Roman Catholic and will try to protect this vile organisation. One of the ways it did this was to have all of this covered up for decades. The other was to cut the Legal Aid funds to any victim so they could not sue the Roman Catholic Church-State. Then there was the creation of hush funds to pay out some of the victims without going public. It did not matter that these criminals continued to offend and were never charged appropriately. Very few have been made accountable, charged appropriately and placed in prison for their crimes and complicity as punishment. This is the Catholic way. The Roman Catholic Church is to blame is the big picture in the end
  • alan stone:

    10 Jun 2014 9:07:57am
    Joanne-Look up Chris Chandler pleads guilty.And Wings submission to Royal Commission. Thanks Alan
  • Just get in there and fix it:

    10 Jun 2014 9:42:19am
    What people need to wise up to is the way organisations go into cover-up mode when charged with immoral, illegal or improper behaviour.

    What they do is inaugurate a new body to look into the problem (eg, the Church's Toward Healing program and the Defence Force's DART). Give it a catchy name or acronym and promise that everything possible is being done. While this is going on, run a parallel agenda where the principals are fulfilling their career ambitions, at the expense of the taxpayer, and not much is really being done so that the job can be handed over to the next one in the pecking order, who is then said to bring "excellent credentials" to the job and who in turn says what a great job his predecessor did. All the while, glacial progress is being made which is beautifully calibrated to the career desires of the principals of the body.

    Re the accusations of rape in the Defence Forces, isn't it just a straightforward case of running a criminal investigation into the problem? Like, stop farting around with process and just get in there with some DIRECT ACTION, like Tony has pontificated about in relation to the mitigation of greenhouse gases.
  • octavio:

    10 Jun 2014 10:39:21am
    The senior officials in the Catholic church who should be investigated are the popes who since the 1920s have forbidden their bishops to notify the civil authorities of crimes committed by clergy. I imagine it might be a bit like an army general being charged with court martial if he gives out information about what happens in-house. You won't solve this problem by addressing the small fry, you need to examine the system that refuses to acknowledge the right of the civil authorities to deal with all offenders, including those who are Roman Catholic clergy.
  • blax5:

    10 Jun 2014 10:47:20am
    The more it remains in the public eye, the better because new parents come through all the time and need to be alert. In that context, it does not matter at all, how public awareness is kept up. I would personally outlaw the practice of altar boys. They are dollied up for all to gawk at. Is this necessary? Tradition is no answer.
  • Mel:

    10 Jun 2014 11:31:58am
    It is time to shut down this religious institution and their enablers in this country , to remove them is no loss to society , to preserve them is no gain , why then do We allow them to exist ? Some will argue that there are some catholic clergy that don't support pedophilia but as it's the futures of Our children at stake surely it's better to arrest ten innocent people by mistake than allow a single guilty party to go free ?

    Time for Australia to achieve enlightenment
    • RobP:

      10 Jun 2014 12:49:04pm
      Sorry, too simple. 

      If the dog has got fleas, liberally apply the flea powder. No need to kill the dog.
      • Talismancer:

        10 Jun 2014 2:12:51pm
        Sorry, too lenient on an organisation that has held humanity back for centuries. They are NOT leaders on morality in any way and in fact have opposed almost every advancement toward the modern age (and continue to do so). The Catholic Church has no redeeming features at all amongst their hypocritical and misguided attempts to "do good". 

        In terms of long term damage, the Catholic Church takes the cake. It's time for them to go. That simple.
  • awake:

    10 Jun 2014 2:50:05pm
    Where are all the comments from the usuals? This is more important than politics. This is about children's lives. 

    Why only 76 comments while there are 100s for and against Abbott and Shorten.

    Where are the priorities?????
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