My name is Pete. When I was 8 years old I was sexually abused over a period of time by a member of the Catholic Church. I was an altar boy at a small parish in regional Victoria, and I was forced to commit acts that I did not understand or agree to. All I knew was that it was wrong, that it did not make me feel special like the priest said it would, that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, and that I was bad.
It took me 22 years to tell anyone. It was only during a session with a psychologist during a particularly difficult time in my life that I dealt with what happened. I was a little boy when it happened and because of this abuse, I was rarely honest with anyone. My father died not really knowing his own son.
I almost didn’t make it but I am here. I was able to navigate my way through the hurt and trouble. But I am one of the lucky ones. Dozens of others have taken their own lives, and those that survive have suffered incredible amounts of mental anguish.
Parliamentarians on both sides need to support a Royal Commission. Only then can every one of us who has been damaged, start to grow again. Please join me in signing on to this petition from high-profile Australians calling for justice for victims of clergy abuse:
Dear Prime Minister,
The evidence of widespread sexual abuse of children by the clergy, including the Catholic Church, is now irrefutable.
Notwithstanding the growing body of that evidence over many years, the perpetrators of such abuse continue to evade legal and moral responsibility for their criminal behaviour. Attempts by our police including those in both New South Wales and Victoria, to investigate these crimes have been hindered and frustrated by the offenders and those who support them.
Under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, Australia is required to take ‘all appropriate measures to protect the child from sexual abuse’. Until such time that this issue is thoroughly examined and addressed by a body with strong powers to compel relevant evidence to be provided to it, our nation can not claim to uphold its obligations to protect vulnerable children.
Prime Minister, we call on you to take immediate action to establish a Royal Commission into this matter, with the aim of eliminating the scourge of child abuse by the clergy in this country and thereby protecting our children.
-- Josh Bornstein, Catherine Deveny, Fr. Bob McGuire, Jane Caro, Michael Short, Sue Cato, Chrys Stevenson, Andrew Knight, and Pete Dillon.