Church's response to child abuse royal commission due Friday
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge, left, will release the Australian Catholic Church's response to the child abuse royal commission on Friday.
Photo: Melissa Adams
The Australian Catholic Church will release its response to the child abuse royal commission on Friday as Pope Francis struggles to control internal and external challenges over his handling of the global child sexual abuse crisis.
The Australian report could generate even more controversy for the Pope because of responses to royal commission recommendations on some of the Catholic Church’s most controversial, but core, beliefs and laws. They include mandatory celibacy, secrecy provisions applying to child sexual abuse allegations and disciplinary proceedings, and breaching the seal of confession for abuse allegations.
The Australian report will be released only days after Pope Francis was criticised while in Ireland for talking rather than acting to change systemic issues allowing the sexual abuse of children in that country over decades, and after a devastating American grand jury report on 300 “predator priests” accused of abusing 1000 children.
It will also be made public only days after explosive allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that the Pope failed to act in 2013 on allegations that American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused children. The Pope’s supporters have strongly challenged the accusations and pointed to the conservative archbishop’s long-standing opposition to the Pope.
Pope Francis is struggling to contain internal and external challenges to his leadership over his handling of child sexual abuse allegations.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Sister Monica Cavanagh, the president of Catholic Religious Australia representing 150 religious orders, will release the Australian Catholic Church response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse during a media conference in Sydney on Friday.
The Australian report was completed after consultation with the Vatican.
The royal commission made 26 specific recommendations for Catholic Church reform, including that Australia’s bishops request the Holy See to change canon law and call child sexual abuse crimes rather than sins or moral failings, and introduce voluntary celibacy.