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We petition the Governor-General of Australia Ms Quentin Bryce AC, and the Prime Minister of Australia Ms Julia Gillard to urgently create a national Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children, and the alleged cover-up of perpetrators, in the Catholic Church in Australia.
It is clear from recent public statements by concerned individuals and organisations that only a national Royal Commission would have the power, reach and resources to produce thorough and reliable results.
Victims of abuse, past and continuing, within the church community deserve immediate and transparent resolution of their claims. The Catholic Church and Australia’s legal system have for too long failed to deal with these matters with the transparency, urgency and duty of care that our children deserve and to which they have a right.
We call for one inquiry, with the appropriate powers and sensitivity to deal with the testimonies of children, of adults abused as children, and of surviving witnesses in the case of the death of the victim.
The extended time between abuse and inquiry, and the patterns of abuse and repeated involvement of individual perpetrators, and the needs of the families of victims, demand suitable rules of evidence and investigation.
The inquiry needs the powers to counter possible interference and obstruction by the Church hierarchy. It requires independence of the police forces which have existed in parallel to this appalling history of abuse and have to date been largely ineffective in breaking the systems in the Catholic Church which have seen it perpetuated.
Only a fully resourced Royal Commission, with the power to cross state boundaries in following the movement of perpetrators, and with scope to investigate internationally as necessary, will be effective in bringing justice to victims, and in revealing and ending the patterns of abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church in Australia.
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