Truth, Justice and Healing Council chief Francis Sullivan is calling on the Church in Australia to deal with crimes carried out overseas by Church officials. Source: ABC News.
Mr Sullivan said it was clear that priests with child sex allegations made against them had been sent overseas to developing countries, including Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, although he was not prepared to concede that those actions were deliberate.
But he said the Church needed to treat overseas survivors exactly as they would those in Australia, and ensure they get justice.
“The relevant Church authorities need to be able to demonstrate that they’re taking responsibility for the actions in how they moved personnel, particularly when those personnel either had a history of abuse, or abused when they were overseas,” he told Pacific Beat.
Four years ago, media reports revealed how one priest, Fr Roger Mount, had spent decades working in PNG after being accused of sexually abusing boys in Australia during the 1960s.
Allegations had also been previously raised in Australia against Denis McAlinden, who spent several years in PNG but died in 2005 without ever being convicted.
“In particular instances, where the perpetrator is known for having a history of abuse, then the diocese or religious order that the person comes from in Australia, who in effect has responsibility for them, even if it is overseas, they need to address this in the same way they would address if it the abuse occurred in Australia,” Mr Sullivan said.
“Take full responsibility, ensure the victims are appropriately cared for and given justice.”
Mr Sullivan supports the suggestion of an audit of Catholic priests sent overseas, particularly after the royal commission established that, between 1950 and 2009, 7 per cent of priests had been accused of child sex crimes in Australia.
“That was the first time ever in the world the Catholic Church’s books were opened and analysed by an independent inquiry,” Mr Sullivan said.
“And painful though that might be, it’s essential that it occurred.
“And the same needs to apply, with regard to potential exposure of perpetrators and their actions in overseas places.”