Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Australian Prime Minister Recommends Royal Commission On Institutional Responses To Child Abuse

At a press conference (full text) on Monday, Australia's prime minister Julia Gillard announced that she will recommend to the Governor-General that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into institutional responses to allegations of child abuse in Australia. The investigation will be aimed not just at the Catholic Church, but at all organizations and agencies that have been involved in caring for children. AAP reports that Australia's Cardinal George Pell welcomed the inquiry, but cautioned that the Catholic Church should not be made a scapegoat. New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell took strong issue with a statement made by Cardinal Pell that priests who hear confessions from other priests who have committed child sex abuse remain bound by the Seal of Confession. Pell advised priests to avoid hearing confessions from colleagues where they suspect abuse to prevent the problem of being bound to secrecy. The Australian reports that government opposition leader Tony Abbott also called for priests to report abuse even if they learned of it in confession. [Thanks to James S. Kolan for the lead.]