December 15, 2017

Australia's Royal Commission Singles Out Catholic Church for Child Sexual Abuse

Australia relief map.jpg
By Виктор В - Australia location map.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
After hearing over 8,000 testimonies from sexual abuse victims during their five-year inquiry, Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has concluded that institutions (e.g.,  churches, schools, sports clubs) "seriously failed" to protect the children with which they were entrusted. The commission directed some specific recommendation to the Catholic Church, including changing their celibacy rules and ensuring that Catholic clergy who fail to report abuse (even when they learn of it during confession) face criminal charges. That is, the are recommending mandatory reporting requirements.

As for why the commission decided to single-out the Catholic Church in this manner, some Catholics will undoubtedly allege anti-Catholic bias of some sort. I'm looking at you, Bill Donohue. But this is a case where I suspect the truth may be far simpler than any sort of bias of anti-Catholic conspiracy.

According to the BBC:
Religious ministers and school teachers were the most commonly reported perpetrators, the report said. The greatest number were in Catholic institutions.
Right, so the whining about anti-Catholic bias probably doesn't apply here. At least, not when as many as 7% of Australian Catholic priests may have been involved in child abuse. Under such circumstances, I think it probably makes sense to pay a bit more attention to the Church.

I recently noted that mandatory reporting requirements are being promoted in Britain by the National Secular Society, and it now appears that they are part of what Australia's commission is recommending. I don't think anyone would claim that instituting such requirements would completely solve the problem; however, it seems like something that could help a great deal. Now we just have to convince the religious institutions to implement them.