Large majority of abuse cases not reported to Rome

Cases not reported

The 'overwhelming majority' of clerical sex abuse cases are not reported to Rome because the Vatican wants to know only about incidents from the past 10 years, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard yesterday.

 - The Sydney Morning Herald

The Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, did not pass on any complaints for five years, probably because a directive from the Pope to do so was filed in a drawer and forgotten, he told the Comission yesterday. 

Bishop Jarrett also said he did not pass on a 2002 complaint in which a woman alleged she 'walked in on Father [Paul Rex] Brown in the act of sexually abusing a child in the sacristy of the cathedral' in 1959. That alleged incident preceded Father Brown’s abuse of  Mrs Jennifer Ingham in the late 1970s by two decades. 

When Bishop Jarrett eventually reported the separate case of a Lismore priest accused of 'numerous' incidents of child sex abuse, with reparations of $50,000 already paid, the Vatican took two years to issue the punishment of offering Mass on Fridays. 

That priest is retired and lives in the presbytery with other priests in Lismore, Bishop Jarrett said. The Bishop has opted not to let him keep his priestly faculties, but said he would have written to the priest in 2004 to tell him he was not allowed to have contact with children.

'I can’t recall whether I have written to remind him of it ever since,' Bishop Jarrett said. 

TRUTH JUSTICE AND HEALING COUNCIL

The first block of hearings into Towards Healing concluded yesterday, with Bishop Jarrett from Lismore returning to the witness box to give evidence.

Bishop Jarrett was asked about the processes in place in the Lismore Diocese for the management of priests who had a finding that there was a ‘semblance of truth’ in relation to an allegation of child sexual abuse.

Bishop Jarrett was asked about a process instituted by the Holy See in Rome, shortly before he became Bishop of Lismore in 2001, which required all such priests to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  He said that he had not become aware of the existence of the process until representatives of the Diocese attended a canon law conference in 2006 after which the Diocese had instituted procedures to ensure that the process was complied with.

Bishop Jarrett finished giving evidence lawyer Peter Kelso, who represented Mrs Ingham during her Towards Healing facilitation, gave evidence about his involvement in her case including the terms of his cost agreement.

Former Marist provincial and director of Professional Standards, Br Alexis Turton,  was also recalled to the witness box to continue his evidence on the DK case.  Issues raised with him included:

  • the process he had followed in attempting to identify the third brother who had allegedly abused DK
  • whether he took any steps to arrange for a dialogue between DK and another brother following the facilitation, and
  • whether it was appropriate for Br Turton to have undertaken all the roles he did during DK’s Towards Healing process.

Following the conclusion of Br Turton’s evidence the hearing was adjourned.  The hearing of Case Study 4 will resume in the Commission on January 22, to conclude evidence in relation to the DK case study.

The case studies being examined in Case Study 4 are focused on the experience of victims resident in Queensland.  On the first day of the hearing the Royal Commission advised that there would be further case studies examining the implementation of Towards Healing for victims in other parts of Australia.  It is anticipated these further case studies will be listed during 2014.

For more information on the Truth Justice and Healing Council go to: www.tjhcouncil.org.au

For information on the Royal Commission go to: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/

FULL COVERAGE

Royal Commission hears Vatican told priest to offer a Mass every Friday for his victims (SMH)

Bishop of Lismore admits he failed to report cases to the Vatican (ABC/Yahoo7)

Bishop unaware of papal abuse edict (The Newcastle Herald)

RELATED COVERAGE

Catholic Church wins court order to stop 'victims' seeing records (The Australian)

Australian abuse inquiry faces diplomatic standoff with Vatican (NCR)

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