The Church has announced it will create an independent company, with directors drawn from the community, to guard national standards relating to child protection, including the education of priests and other clergy, reports The Australian.
The CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, told The Australian the Church was putting in place better oversight structures such as the new body, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd.
He said the company would oversee the establishment, maintenance, and reporting of national standards. It would also oversee standards for psychological profiling of priests, introduction of foreign priests, and record-keeping.
“It’s a major significant step to demonstrate the Catholic leadership in Australia wants to do something rather than just talk,” Mr Sullivan said.
It demonstrated credibility, transparency, and accountability, following criticisms of the Church over its child abuse scandals and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, he said. “Every case study has been more and more uncomfortable. It’s been confronting and shameful.”
Brisbane's Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Royal Commission doubtless would have questions about the new company. He hoped that people would be able to see results from the initiative and know that it would not just be a bureaucratic gesture.
“The purpose of the body is to set consistent national standards and both words are important because we have failed in consistency and we’ve failed to be co-ordinated across the nation,” he said.
Archbishop Coleridge said the body would be as independent as the Church could make it and directors would not necessarily be Church members.
The first three had been chosen — all Catholics — but they were not necessarily Church insiders. Archbishop Coleridge said.
At the Royal Commission yesterday, a senior Church figure disputed claims he covered up child sexual abuse, saying none of the cases he dealt with required reporting, reports AAP in The Guardian.
The national director of Catholic Mission Australia, Fr Brian Lucas, told the Commission that he had been “pilloried” in the media with headlines about a cover-up.
In all the abuse cases he dealt with, he said, either the alleged perpetrator had died or was already known to police or the courts, or the victim did not want the matter reported.
“When you look at the four categories of case that I dealt with, broadly, none of them involved my personal reporting to the police,” Fr Lucas told the Commission.
Fr Lucas was one of two priests responsible for speaking to sex abuse victims and accused clergy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
TRUTH JUSTICE AND HEALING COUNCIL
Catholics form company for child protection (The Australian)