Ashamed. Humiliated. A kick in the guts. They're some of the words Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP used to describe his reaction to the extent of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Archbishop Fisher admitted that he and other clergy felt contaminated, betrayed and demoralised by the paedophiles in the Church.
He understood why Australians felt so angry.
"We knew (the report) would be bad, but it's humiliating, it's harrowing," he Fisher said.
"It really has hurt me and it has hurt a lot of priests and bishops, but that's tiny compared with how it's hurt the survivors."
Commission staff were still crunching numbers last Saturday, and senior bishops were not told the final figures until late on Sunday night ahead of their Monday release.
"I felt – probably this will be pretty universal among the bishops and the clergy – quite winded," Archbishop Fisher said of the moment he saw the figures.
He has since spoken to many clergy and they are "feeling betrayed, demoralised by it", he says.
Community reactions have ranged from defensiveness among some Catholics, to such disillusionment towards the Church from nonbelievers that, for some, the word priest has become synonymous with paedophile.
Archbishop Fisher said that, in a sense, they are both right.
"This is so awful that you lose perspective on everything else. On the really good things, the schools for poor kids, the orphanages, the hospitals where there were none, the wonderful things the church – and not just the Catholic Church – did in building the social infrastructure of Australia," he said.
Vatican under pressure to speed up abuse investigations: Royal Commission (Illawarra Mercury)
A letter from Bishop Vincent Long about the Royal Commission (Diocese of Parramatta)
Bishop Peter Ingham - Video Pastoral Message in relation to the Royal Commission (Diocese of Wollongong / YouTube)
Bishop Peter Ingham's Statement on the Royal Commission's Final Hearing on the Catholic Church (Diocese of Wollongong)
Archbishop Anthony Fisher (Twitter)