A Vatican tribunal to judge bishops accused of covering up child sex abuse is unlikely to investigate any Australian bishops until after the Royal Commission has concluded, says the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.
- SMH/The Age
The Vatican announced on Wednesday night that it had established a tribunal under its doctrinal arm, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "to judge bishops with regard to crimes of the abuse of office when connected to the abuse of minors."
Francis Sullivan, CEO OF the TJH Council, said he "wouldn't speculate" on whether the Vatican's new tribunal would investigate the former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns.
"Usually the way the Vatican works ... it won't work on speculation or on unsubstantiated claims. It will work on final determinations of courts or commissions of inquiry like the royal commission," he said.
The Royal Commission into Instiutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is expected to conclude halfway through next year, with recommendations and findings to follow.
Mr Sullivan doubted that the Vatican's tribunal had already started investigating bishops, but believed the work would be accelerated under Pope Francis. Statutes which established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors were only released from the Vatican last month.
The move placed "Church leaders around the world and here in Australia on notice that they have a role to do in responding to and preventing child sexual abuse and that if they fail they will be judged and possibly lose their jobs.
"The Pope has now made it very clear no one within the church will be protected if they have done the wrong thing," Mr Sullivan said.
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