While the Church has made changes in the wake of the child abuse royal commission, the need for reform is far from over, says Truth Justice and Healing Council chief Francis Sullivan, reports Nine News.
"Church leaders can apologise until they're blue in the face but until they demonstrate by their actions that they sincerely want to atone for what's happened, no one will listen to them," Mr Sullivan told AAP.
"It will be on their heads if they don't step up and demonstrate that they are going to take the Church in a direction that resonates with what the community and the royal commission believes to be a sensible and prudent approach."
The royal commission is due to release its final report this week, five years after the inquiry began.
Mr Sullivan said the Church has made significant changes including in the way it deals with abuse complaints and by establishing a new national professional standards body.
He said he expects some influential individuals and interests in the Church will continue to be defensive about aspects of the royal commission's recommendations and governments' responses where they impact the operation of the Church.
The Church has already declared the seal of confession must remain intact despite the prospect of its priests facing criminal charges for failing to report child sexual abuse, if a royal commission recommendation becomes law.
Mr Sullivan does not expect the Church to change its position that the seal of confession is inviolable in the case of a priest maintaining confidentiality for a penitent. But he believes there has been confusion even among Australia's senior church leaders about the application of the seal when abuse is revealed by a child in the confessional.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said Australian bishops recognise cultural change – not just refining protocols and procedures – is needed and it cannot be business as usual after the royal commission.
However, a number of priests warned the inquiry not to expect to change the theology and structure of the universal Church despite those issues being examined as part of its investigation into widespread abuse over decades in Catholic institutions.
Church reform not over after abuse inquiry (Nine News)