Opinion

Church's litany of deadly sins

The Victorian Government has announced it is going to hold a year-long parliamentary inquiry into the Catholic Church and its handling of criminal abuse cases against children.

Good.

There were many people calling for a Royal Commission, which would have greater powers to compel witnesses to give evidence and to elicit documentary and electronic information, but at least there are moves to call the Church to account for one of the great unspeakable atrocities in our society.

For years we have heard reports of how Catholic priests and brothers have committed horrible acts against children, with Church authorities denying, covering-up or blaming "a few bad apples" when the number of cases seems to suggest a culture that is absolutely rotten to its core.

Premier Ted Baillieu was prompted to action by a police report that detailed at least 40 cases of suicide by people believed to have been abused by Catholic clergy. The report said the Church had been aware of the high suicide rate, but had "chosen to remain silent".

The alleged crimes are so heinous: people in positions of trust and authority praying on the vulnerable and innocent.

Researcher Judy Courtin is doing a PhD on sexual assault within the Catholic Church and wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday: "There is evidence of life-long harm from these crimes for the victims and their families. This harm includes suicide, attempted suicide, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug addiction, loss of education and employment opportunities, difficulties with forming relationships, a distrust of authority figures, grief, anger, breakdown of families and a destruction of people's faith. The economic and social impact of these problems is immeasurable."

And I can't think of another organisation where it would have been allowed to continue. If it had been a school or a sporting club where there had been sustained and proven accusations of child sexual abuse, it would have been shut down years ago.

But, until now, the Church seemed to be above the law and above the reach of governments.

I hope this is not just an exercise in appearing to do something. I hope it reaches across state borders. I hope it brings justice to victims and their families, and I hope the Catholic Church can admit to what it has done and fundamentally change its ways.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

The best and worst bits of Splendour from our experts

The Amphitheatre received Flume with open arms and danced to his music on Sunday night.

Glitter, fake marriages, see-through clothing and gorgeous weather

Splendour found The Cure

Robert Smith at the Splendour in the Grass Amphitheatre stage during The Cure's show.

Day two of Splendour in the Grass

Gallery donations roll with thanks

Donors gather at The Regional Art Gallery hear from the architect, Dominic Finlay Jones, about the redevelopment of the gallery.

Regional Gallery thanks donors helping with redevelopment

Latest deals and offers

Woolworths to sack 500 staff, close at least 17 stores

WOOLWORTHS will dump hundreds of staff and shut more than 20 of its major Australian supermarkets.

The best and worst bits of Splendour from our experts

The Amphitheatre received Flume with open arms and danced to his music on Sunday night.

Glitter, fake marriages, see-through clothing and gorgeous weather

Splendour found The Cure

Robert Smith at the Splendour in the Grass Amphitheatre stage during The Cure's show.

Day two of Splendour in the Grass

Gallery donations roll with thanks

Donors gather at The Regional Art Gallery hear from the architect, Dominic Finlay Jones, about the redevelopment of the gallery.

Regional Gallery thanks donors helping with redevelopment

NORPA brings My Radio Heart back

Performers in the NORPA co-production My Radio Heart, from left, Randolf Reimann, Phoebe Rose, Mathew Daymond, Claudie Frock, Zac Mifsud (sitting), and Lydian Dunbar. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

The piece premiered in 2014 in Lismore

Pizza chain goes into voluntary administration

Eagle Boys pizza store

Mackay Eagle Boys will continue to feed the Mackay community

Pokémon Go makes Ingress into Clarence Valley

Pokemon Go player Dan Optland is pictured in the game w ith a "Pidgey" Pokemon he lured to a Pokestop at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium.

Pokemon Go Pokestops evolved from hard work of unsuspecting friends.

Harry's MasterChef exit makes way for all-Noosa grand final

Harry Foster congratulates MasterChef finalists Elena Duggan and Matt Sinclair after a closely-fought semi-final.

YOUNG Rocky-born cook now working in his dream job in Tasmania.

Kim Kardashian West bemused by selfie 'drama'

Kim didn't expect her naked selfie to cause the stir it did

Alicia Vikander hasn't been home since Oscars

Alicia Vikander "hasn't been home" for nearly nine months.

Tom Hiddleston not worried about relationship attention

Attention doesn't bother 'authentic' Hiddleston

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field to expand family?

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field want more children.

Licking incident bars Ariana from performing at White House

Ariana Grande has been blocked from performing at the White House

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started