Don't just target Church: Henderson

Justice Peter McClellan

It is a rare occasion in a democracy when a state-funded institution inquires into a Church, writes Gerard Henderson at The Australian.

On Monday, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will commence three weeks of public hearings concerning Case Study 50. This involves an inquiry into the policies and procedures of Catholic Church authorities in relation to child protection and child safety standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse.

Royal commission chairman Peter McClellan has made it clear that his focus will include an analysis of factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse at Catholic institutions in Australia.

The evidence before the royal commission indicates the level of clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia has dropped substantially over the past two decades. So it is not clear why the royal commission intends to spend so much time inquiring into the causation of what are mainly historical crimes.

I have been advised by McClellan's staff that "it is unlikely that the media will form the subject of the royal commission's final public hearings". This means that child sexual abuse within the media will not be inquired into by the royal commission — this despite the widespread offending in Britain by BBC star Jimmy Savile (1926-2011), some of it on BBC property.

Also the royal commission appears unlikely to investigate the actions of self-confessed pedophile Richard Neville (1941-2016) who, in 1975, invited a number of pederasts into an ABC radio studio where they boasted of their crimes. Some of the under-age male victims could be alive today.

Rather than inquire into the extent to which Neville's soft attitude about pederasty on the public broadcaster four decades ago might have given sustenance to the (then) pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, the royal commission sees merit in focusing on the Catholic sacrament of confession.


Child abuse royal commission: don't just target Catholic Church (The Australian)


Justice Peter McClellan (Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse)

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