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.

IS IT POSSIBLE? How to live alongside flying-foxes

A vexed questionof living with flying foxes will be discussed this Friday at the NPA forum.

THE conflict between urbanites and wildlife has a new battleground

Gamblers can beat betting

BEAT IT: Recovered gambling addict Blayne Marcantelli gives an emotional address at the Responsible Gambling Awareness screening of the movie, Broke, at Ballina Cinema.

Lismore Baker raises awareness for problem gambling.

Elder’s art tells tales of past for today’s kids

INSPIRING: Uncle Digby Moran with Lismore Heights Public student Shannyah Hope at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Bundjalung Elder teaches heritage through art and stories.

Latest deals and offers

WATCH: Local artists ‘paint’ the Opera House with light

RHONDA Roberts and Karla Dickens' work will be seen by millions of visitors and Sydney-siders from tonight.

IS IT POSSIBLE? How to live alongside flying-foxes

A vexed questionof living with flying foxes will be discussed this Friday at the NPA forum.

THE conflict between urbanites and wildlife has a new battleground

Gamblers can beat betting

BEAT IT: Recovered gambling addict Blayne Marcantelli gives an emotional address at the Responsible Gambling Awareness screening of the movie, Broke, at Ballina Cinema.

Lismore Baker raises awareness for problem gambling.

Elder’s art tells tales of past for today’s kids

INSPIRING: Uncle Digby Moran with Lismore Heights Public student Shannyah Hope at Lismore Regional Gallery.

Bundjalung Elder teaches heritage through art and stories.

NSW lags but North Coast booms on renewable energy

But Northern Rivers moving ahead at "cracking pace"

VIDEO: The fastest, easiest way to peel a potato?

There is a fast way to peel potatoes.

This 30-second video shows how quickly you can peel a potato

The best retro movies of the week? May 27 - June 3

Gregory Peck Photo Contributed

This week TV fan get to see Tom Cruise in a 1980s classics

Perfect time to invest in Northern Rivers property

The Northern Rivers rental market is tighter than Sydney making it the perfect time for investors to get better returns out of property than superannuation or banks deposits.

Low interest rates and tight rental market are prime time to invest