The Catholic Church is a "law unto itself" in need of serious cultural reform if it is to address widespread allegations of child sexual abuse, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has told the royal commission, the Brisbane Times reports.
Archbishop Coleridge told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse there was a lack of transparency within the Church.
"We are, as it were, a law and a world unto ourselves," he said.
The third day of the three-week public inquiry into Catholic Church authorities is examining the factors behind clerical sexual abuse.
The inquiry heard there were multiple causes including the Church's hierarchical structure, poor governance, lack of women in leadership roles and a culture of secrecy.
"We haven't yet embraced adequately a transparency that is appropriate . . . for an unusual community of communities like the Catholic Church," Archbishop Coleridge said.
"A culture of concealment is one of the things we have to put behind us."
Catholic authorities had a "great deal more work" to do on improving culture, he told the commission.
Peter Johnstone, president of Catholics for Renewal and a former senior public servant, told the inquiry that the statistics presented to the Commission "are quite conservative given that they're based on those who have come forward."
Mr Johnstone said greater inclusion of women would help change the culture of the Church.
Patrick Parkinson, a professor of law at The University of Sydney, told the royal commission there may have been a "culture of facilitation" in male religious orders which explained the high proportion of alleged perpetrators in orders such as St John of God, the Christian Brothers and the Marist Brothers.
Day 3 of the Royal Commission's Catholic wrap up: summary and analysis (Catholic Weekly)