THE latest revelation in Australia’s on-going state inquiry in the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse is that “fly-in” priests imported from abroad pose a danger to parishioners.
Victims organisation Broken Rites said it was aware of at least seven cases in which imported priests had sexually abused people, including one where the priest abused five women, four of them members of his own family, researcher Wayne Chamley said. He added:
If it’s good enough for Australia to shanghai problem priests and send them off to Samoa or Rome [a reference to actions by the Salesian order], why wouldn’t overseas bishops do it to Australia?
The Australian Catholic Church has not released the number of clerics imported mostly from India, Nigeria and the Philippines to ease the catastrophic decline in parish priests, but a study last year estimated they made up 20 per cent of Australia’s total of 1,500.
Dr Chamley also said that Church lawyers tried to ‘king hit victims as hard as possible to demoralise them in negotiations for compensation.
They wring their hands and speak in humble voices, but in the cut and thrust of mediation it’s boots and all.
He added that etting the church investigate itself was like:
Leaving Dracula in charge of the blood bank.
Dr Chamley condemned submissions to the inquiry by the Salvation Army and Catholic Church. The former, at eight pages, was “an insult” to the Parliament and people of Victoria, given the hundreds of child victims of abuse by its officers, and its response to victims was often:
Secretive, unco-operative, mean-spirited and legalistic.
The Catholic submission, on the other hand, was notable for what it left out, including two Australian Senate inquiries that showed ”children who ended up in the ‘care’ of the Catholic Church were subjected to widespread sexual abuse, procurement for sexual purposes by other adults, severe and unwarranted physical abuse, criminal assault, prolonged solitary confinement, exploitation and unpaid child labour, slavery, starvation, administration of drugs and provision of alcohol” during most of the past century.
Patrick Tidmarsh, a Victoria Police expert on interviewing victims, told the inquiry the Catholic Church had neither the motivation nor the ability to investigate abuse complaints.
Where is the motivation for an organisation or person to pursue perpetrators when the consequences to that organisation are so severe? I can’t think of a single case where a priest has not been moved and re-offended, and moved again and re-offended again.
He said a Church investigation could not bring the ”crucial independence” the police had.
Meanwhile, ABC News reported that a former New South Wales priest claims to have witnessed a “system of cover-ups” within the Catholic Church to hide child sexual abuse.
Kevin Lee was ordained as a priest 20 years ago and worked as a police chaplain for some of that time, but was relieved of his parish responsibilities in Western Sydney this year when he admitted to marrying a woman in secret.
His comments follow those of Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox who told Lateline on Thursday night that the Catholic Church is involved in cover-ups and paedophile priests have destroyed evidence to avoid prosecution.
Hat tip: Bill Murray