Catholic Church To Implement Wide-Reaching Reforms To Sex Abuse Response

The Catholic Church has told the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses To Child Sexual Abuse that it intends to implement new organisation-wide policies and strategies for dealing with complaints of sexual abuse by priests.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Catholic Church has put forward a range of policy reforms in a formal submission to the Royal Commission, including agreeing to contribute to “an independent national compensation scheme if that is what the commission investigating child sex abuse in institutions recommends.”

The submission also addresses criticisms of the Catholic Church’s own Towards Healing, the set of principles “form the basis of the Church’s response to complaints of abuse and the procedures to be followed in responding to individual complaints,” which has been accused of being inconsistent in the way it deals with complaints, and that it lacks “transparency, accountability or independence”. The reforms will include the creation of “an independent lay-led board to audit, enforce and report publicly the Towards Healing abuse protocol”.

The submission denies that the Catholic Church does not report sexual abuse complaints to police, but acknowledges the Church is “deeply ashamed” of deep-set problem of sexual abuse, and that its past concealment of perpetrators and their crimes is “indefensible… Church leaders betrayed the trust of their own people and the expectations of the wider community. For all these things the church is deeply sorry.”

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