Monday, 20 May 2013

Yes Virginia, there was indeed a cover up in Melbourne...

Archbishop Hart of Melbourne, also currently President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, spent three hours giving evidence at the Victorian State Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Abuse today.

Consider it a warm up for the Royal Commission.

There was a cover up, but it's all better now!

The Archbishop admitted that there had indeed been an appalling cover-up.

But he pointed to his predecessor bar one, the late Archbishop Little (Archbishop between 1974 and 1996 and who resigned aged 70), as the culprit.

The Archbishop defended Church practice since the establishment of the 'Melbourne Process' in the 1990s.

Archbishop Hart did however admit that action against paedophile priests had been slow, even under his watch.  Questioned about the case of a priest found guilty in 1993, but where the process for laicization only started last year, spurred by the Inquiry and Royal Commission, his response was 'better late than never'.

The Australian reports that:

"Archbishop Hart, who has been the Melbourne archbishop since 2001 and was previously a vicar general from 1996, agreed that the crimes should have been dealt with upfront and revealed to the police.

He admitted that the church was too keen to look after itself when instructing that complaints remain confidential.

''The question of confidentiality of these matters was probably kept in one sense too much in that the church was too keen to look after herself and her good name and not keen enough to address the terrible anguish of the victims,'' Archbishop Hart said on Monday.

Asked if the church was protecting its treasure - its good name, reputation and money - Archbishop Hart said he believed that was true but that that has changed since the early 1990s.

"Slowly, sometimes with agony, but it has changed," he said.

The Age summarises his evidence as follows:

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart says the Catholic church has been slow to act on child abuse and admits there has been a culture of "secrecy and cover-up".

Archbishop Hart told a packed gallery at the parliamentary inquiry into child abuse by churches that taking 18 years to act on ejecting a convicted paedophile priest was "better late than never".
He said paedophile priests had been moved on to innocent parishes but practices had improved since 1996.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart fronts the parliamentary inquiry into child abuse by churches.
"I believe that is an awful blight on the church..."

He said the church was "too slow to realise what was going on" because they were dealing with cunning and devious criminals.

Here are some links to the various media reports:
There will be many more (do send in any you think are worth reading or listening to).

Next week, Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Melbourne between 1996 and 2001, will give evidence to the Inquiry.

1 comment:

R J said...

When one reads Archbishop Hart attempting to put the blame for the Victorian Church's situation upon Archbishop Little, and when one remembers exactly what roles the former occupied during the latter's unlamented reign (these roles included that of Master of Ceremonies at St Patrick's Cathedral), it is hard to avoid thinking of the celebrated anecdote regarding Khrushchev's "secret speech" to the Soviets in 1956 about Stalin's crimes.

According to this anecdote, no sooner had Khrushchev related to the gathered apparatchiks the catalogue of Stalin's crimes, than someone from the floor shouted: "And what were you doing, Comrade Khrushchev, when all those mass murders were being committed on Stalin's watch?" Khrushchev snapped back: "WHO SAID THAT?"

The hall, of course, fell totally silent. Nobody present wanted to admit to having shouted out this challenge to Khrushchev.

Whereupon Khrushchev ended the total silence by saying: "Well, now you know what I was doing when all those mass murders were being committed on Stalin's watch."

The American bishops learned their lesson from their own country's abuse crisis. When will ours?