Commission must not forget the victims

It's always the poor little victims who get forgotten, and it’s happening again in the hail of words prompted by Julia Gillard’s royal commission into child abuse.

   Kids have no power and no voice. That’s why evil priests, and others, prey on them in the first place.

   Well, it’s high time they had a voice.

   The highly popular royal commission may well be politically motivated, as Gillard’s opponents charge.

   It may well run for longer than it ought, cost more than it should, make big institutions feel uncomfortable, lead to litigation and uncover hitherto unimagined problems.

   So what? This is a boil that needs to be lanced, and the sooner the better.

   I suspect this evil catastrophe of paedophilia runs deeper than we think, and has been covered up far more shamefully than we think.

   It’s best that we find out the ugly truth once and for all, deal with it and move on as a nation.

   Failure to do so will keep this scandal under the carpet, unaddressed.

   This much already is clear: as a nation we have failed thousands of children spanning generations.

   We must know the extent of it. We must know who all the perpetrators were, and are, and whose wretched complicity allowed them to get away with it. We must do everything in our power to heal the wounds they have inflicted, and make sure this sort of thing can never happen again.

   Failure to protect the most vulnerable really is the saddest indictment on any society.

   We cannot congratulate ourselves for being a progressive, prosperous, educated, free, fair and safe country while this disgrace stays unresolved.

   Let’s not get sidetracked by all the hullabaloo. Whether the Catholic Church confessional box should be sacrosanct and inviolable is a red herring.

   How many priests have ever confessed to other priests, in confession boxes, that they were paedophiles?

   Hardly anyone goes to church any more, remember?

   What would you do if you were the priest hearing such a confession?

   Would you go to the authorities? I would. And so would our atheist PM, our Catholic Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and our Catholic Premier Barry O’Farrell.

   Politically, they could hardly say otherwise, I suppose, but isn’t it time that we gave our own laws primacy over a church rule dreamed up in another country called the Vatican?

   Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop George Pell seems obsessed by making sure that his church does not appear any filthier than it ought to appear.

   He says he is deeply ashamed at the child sex abuse committed within the church.

But he denies there is sufficient evidence to justify a royal commission.   

   Let’s not forget the letter from senior detective Peter Fox, which helped create pressure for this royal commission.

‘‘I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church,’’ his letter said.

   Let’s not worry too much about the precious reputations of the church, the priests, the Boy Scouts or anyone else. Let’s remember the victims.

Catholic Archbishop George Pell. Picture: ANTHONY JOHNSON

Catholic Archbishop George Pell. Picture: ANTHONY JOHNSON


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