"Bad Habits: Sex and the Catholic Church"

PAUL RANSLEY, REPORTER: This is a list of more than 50 Catholic priests, members of religious orders and lay teachers convicted of sex crimes in the past six years. It's an incomplete list ... the names of many individuals are suppressed because they face further charges. Still others have escaped the judicial net. Only the Catholic Church knows for sure how many sex offenders have sheltered in its ranks, but it's not saying. And while the church argues that clergy amounts to only two percent of all sex offenders, it can't deny that in recent years more have emerged from the confessional than from any other single institution. Most are paedophiles.

HELEN LAST, VICTIM'S LAWYER: Basically, the whole continuum of offending is going on in the church, right through from sexual harassment through to sexual assault, through to aggravated rape with bashing, and there have also been threats of murder against some of my clients.

REPORTER: Helen Last is a theologian who once worked for the Melbourne Archdiocese. Her advocacy of victims' rights cost her the job. Now she's in private practice.

LAST: The Catholic Church is particularly prone to this invasion of sexual offenders because it is such a complex and diverse structure. It has schools, it has hospitals, it has institutions of care. It gives a sex offender absolute licence to act out a role that says that they are an honourable person, that they are a person of God.

BISHOP GEOFFREY ROBINSON, PROF. STANDARDS COMMITTEE: It could well be true that a priest who has a propensity in that direction might be more likely to offend because the opportunity is present.

 REPORTER: Bishop Geoffrey Robinson manages the church's policy on sexual abuse. While openly admitting a serious problem, he baulks at the idea the church harbours a sub-culture of active sex offenders.

BISHOP ROBINSON: There is no evidence at all for saying the paedophile deliberately chooses the church. 

REPORTER: But would there be any other institution that as a mass has so many of its members in jail?

BISHOP ROBINSON: Again, that's hard to say. Because the prosecutions ... the one good thing about the church in this is that some people at least are coming forward. I mean, the best thing of course is to have no abuse at all. The second best is, if it's happening, let's know about it. And I think we should be worried about some other professions where we don't know about it.

 REPORTER: Whoever's right, it's impossible to ignore the large number of sex crimes committed by clergy. Especially when seen beside the way victims are treated. They complain the church is still in denial, and instead of ministering to their wounds ... it adds to them. To understand why that's so disheartening, you have to understand how deeply wounded many victims are. Few worse than David Owen. As an infant, David was taken from his young unmarried mother and given to the sisters of mercy who ran the now notorious Neerkol orphanage in Queensland.

DAVID OWEN: The first time it happened to me, Paul, I went over to the presbytery. I was supposed to be going over there to be taught more phrases about the Latin that he thought I was getting wrong by being an altar boy, you know. So you went over, Paul, and all you got was abused. You'd come out of there, Paul, and you'd be crying.

REPORTER: Sexually abused?

OWEN: Sexually abused Paul, like sodomised, Paul.

REPORTER: He told every nun at the orphanage about the assaults. They ignored him. He remembers pleading with one nun.

OWEN: I grabbed hold of her habit Paul, and I pleaded with her not to let Anderson touch me, pleaded with her. All I got from her, Paul, was whacked across the head with her hand until I let go of her. She gave me to Anderson. Anderson sexually abused me. I went back to the dormitory. That night, lying in bed three nuns came in, Paul. Two of them pulled me pyjamas down, while the other nun flogged me to within an inch of my life.

REPORTER: David endured rapes, indecent assaults and beatings week after week for nearly three years. On one occasion, he rebelled. It was short lived.

OWEN: I was in the car with Anderson and I was sitting right over near the door. I said "if you touch me Father I am going to tell sister Amelia". Well, Paul, he kept driving, and we were coming across this big bridge on the way to Standwell, and anyway, he stopped his car in the middle of the bridge. He pulled me out of that car, Paul, he held me over that bridge and he said to me, if I tell sisters what was going on, what he was doing to me, he would drop me into the fires of hell. Well, Paul, that same week I was sent to the presbytery and he asked me to come over there and I refused to go. And then he went in Paul, he got his coat, he grabbed a hold of me, Paul. He said, all right then I am taking you out to drop you in the fires of hell. Naturally, I succumbed to him Paul.

REPORTER: How old were you?

OWEN: I was going on to about thirteen and a half then.

REPORTER: Before the abuse began, David had found comfort in the rituals and beliefs of his religion. But he soon discovered the church was a sanctuary for the sins of the Father.

 OWEN: When you went to confession to Anderson, Paul, you would say, "Bless me Father for I have committed a sin of impurity." He would say, "Who with Owen?" I would say, "With you, Father". He would say "What a priest does to a child is not a mortal sin. But if you tell anyone it will be a mortal sin, and if you die you would go to the fires of hell." Well, Paul, being a boy going on from 10 and 11 years old....

 REPORTER: You believed in the fires of hell?

 OWEN: You believed, you know, in this Paul. 

REPORTER: David knew other children in the orphanage were also being abused by Anderson and a colleague, Father Reg Durham, who in September was jailed for raping a child.

 OWEN: You heard the saying, you know: "Father Anderson and Father Durham go to church on Sunday. To pray to God to give them strength to f... little boys on Monday.You know, well, when I heard that saying, I realised, well I'm not the only boy that this is happening to.

 REPORTER: David broke free of the priest's grip when he turned 14 and moved to a work scheme. When he left the orphanage, he could neither read, nor write ... though he knew the full Latin mass. He was deeply disturbed and violent. Briefly, he excelled as a rugby league player. But jail time cut that short. He's never married or enjoyed a sex life. For many years, he found it difficult to even touch another person. At Easter and Christmas, when most of us are celebrating, he re-lives dreadful memories.

 OWEN: You go up town Paul and you hear the Christmas carols, you know... And you think, you know, about presents at Christmas time when the Bishop used to come out to the orphanage, you know? He would be giving these presents and your number and name would be called out, "number 34, Dave Owen". You would go up to the bishop, you would genuflect. Kiss his ring and he'd give you your present and you would go back and sit there. You were so excited about what could be in there ... what could be in there, you know? And the nun would say, "All right children, permission to open your presents." You would open you presents, Paul, and ... and ... you could see there is nothing in there, Paul. And then you'd go to the nun and you'd say to the nun, "Sister there is nothing in here". She'd say, "Owen, what do you expect? Empty boxes are for empty heads." So, Paul, how can you ever forget what happened out there?

 REPORTER: There was a happy ending of sorts. Despite being told by the nuns his mother had died, he met her when he was 35. He also discovered six brothers and sisters. They welcomed him into the family. It was then he says he found some peace. He lived with his mother until she died. David was not the only child abused at the Neerkol Orphanage. When its shameful past emerged last year, the Sisters of Mercy agreed to compensate victims, with payments from $2000 to $25,000 each. Many accepted. David did not. Partly because it wasn't enough, partly because it required he sign a secrecy clause, and partly because the offer, that included psychological care, would have meant an obligation.

 OWEN: I don't want the church and me to be under an obligation to the church because it'd be like being a survivor of the gas chambers, Paul, and be under an obligation to the Nazis. You know what I mean? And the Nazis are trying to heal you...

 REPORTER: When other stories, just like David's, were first told in the early '90s the church responded badly. In many cases, the truth denied, offenders protected, and victims disregarded. By 1996, church leaders woke up to the damage this was causing them and developed a protocol (called Towards Healing) to investigate complaints, assess damage and arrange compensation outside the court system. It supposedly heralded a new era of understanding between the church and victims. Three years on, you'd think nothing had changed.

 DAVID FORSTER, VICTIM'S LAWYER: I think it's basically a sham.

 REPORTER: David Forster represents over 60 victims of clerical abuse.

FORSTER: I think it was a carefully crafted document that had as its central purpose protecting the reputation of the Catholic Church. I don't think it's a document that was really designed to provide proper genuine support to victims of sexual abuse.

LAST: It is set up by the church itself, so therefore it is part of the culture and the institution of the church. It cannot be apart from that, so it's basically looking at the needs of the offenders and the religious superiors at first point.

CHRIS MACLSAAC, BROKEN RIGHTS' SUPPORT GROUP: I have seen victims who feel further abused from being in the Towards Healing process.

REPORTER: The truth is that a significant number of senior clerics, who signed the Towards Healing document, simply don't share its sentiments.

LAST: There's probably one or two clerics only who are prepared to stand up on this issue in Australia.

REPORTER: Two, one or two? 

LAST: Yes. One or two, and they are courageous men. And some of them are doing it under duress, in terms of they feel that there could be some backlash towards them if they continue to be public on this matter.

REPORTER: And what are the rest doing?

LAST: I feel that they are buying into the hiddeness of the problem. They are still part of what I would see as a culture of secrecy.

REPORTER: Church leaders can't be forced to follow the protocol. The 30 bishops and over 100 provincials, who lead religious orders, are totally independent. And those we approached were unwilling to justify actions for which they've been criticised. Instead, they referred us to a convenient stalking horse, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who runs the policy committee responsible for Towards Healing. He's one of the few whose work is applauded, but he can't answer for the arbitrary decisions of others. Nevertheless, he insists Towards Healing is not a sham.

BISHOP ROBINSON: There's been an agreement by the bishops that they would support it. They've put themselves on the line. Where they do not do so then they are failing their own commitment.

REPORTER: And a number of them aren't, are they? They're not pursuing?

BISHOP ROBINSON: Well, the response is varied. I freely admit that. Some are responding very, very well indeed. Others leave a fair bit to be desired.

REPORTER: Doesn't that damage the protocol? Doesn't that damage the church?

BISHOP ROBINSON: Yes. Yes it does. There's no doubt about that.

REPORTER: Equally damaging, the Melbourne Archdiocese, led by Archbishop Pell, and the Jesuit order refused to sign the protocol, developing their own.

BISHOP ROBINSON: I would far prefer that they come with us, but provided they put something serious in place, then okay, I can live with that. I am happy to learn from, for example, what Melbourne has put in place. I just don't dismiss it.

REPORTER: But the victims' report card for the Melbourne and Jesuit procedures suggests there's little of value to learn. Both have lawyers as gatekeepers, and if anything are more hard-nosed than Towards Healing. No-one from the Archdiocese or the Jesuits would speak with us. A disturbing example of how many in the church still respond to allegations of sexual abuse occurred in a recent Brisbane court case in which a priest was charged with raping a teenage girl. In sentencing him, the judge lashed out at the Catholic Church and in particular one of its bishops. The judge accused them of blinding hypocrisy and corruption.

REPORTER: In September, Judge Warren Howell sentenced 83-year-old Father Reg Durham to jail for raping a 14-year-old girl at the Neerkol Orphanage in 1966. The judge condemned the church's response to the woman's complaint when it finally emerged three years ago.

JUDGE'S COMMENTS READ: The reprehensible attitude of the church to date in trying to squash the complaint and to cover it up, does not bode well for an honest, compassionate and meaningful approach by the church in the future to go some way to compensating her.

REPORTER: He was highly critical of Sister Mary Francis Regis, who worked at the orphanage. She was told of the rape at the time and did nothing. When the allegation resurfaced in 1996, she still tried to cover it up.

JUDGE COMMENTS READ: Sister Mary Francis Regis, a singularly unsuitable person of no little cruelty and callousness to have a responsible position in charge of children at Neerkol, was not only an unimpressive witness, but was an unashamed liar.

REPORTER: Judge Howell also criticised the Bishop of Townsville, Raymond Benjamin, who, in the 1960s, worked with Durham. The bishop's evidence to the court was unconvincing and differed from a statement he'd allegedly made to investigators.

JUDGE'S COMMENTS READ: The Bishop of Townsville, Bishop Benjamin, was not only a most unimpressive witness. He clearly manifested his desire and intention not to give truthful evidence. His evidence, and that of Sister Mary Francis Regis, afforded yet another sorry chapter in the Church's seeming determination that justice not be done in this matter.

REPORTER: When Sunday requested an interview with the bishop he declined, but wrote this reply: 

BISHOP BENJAMIN'S REPLY: I am pleased to see the robust public discussion on the church's efforts to redress previous bad practices and I commend you and the Sundayprogram for this.

REPORTER: Bishop Benjamin denied the judge's accusations in an interview with Townsville broadcaster WINTV.

FILE FOOTAGE OF BENJAMIN ON WINTV: To the best of my knowledge, total cooperation was given to the police in their enquiries and there's not been, as far as I'm concerned, any cover-up.

REPORTER: How damaging is it when a judge calls a bishop a liar as happened in the Durham case?

BISHOP ROBINSON: Of course, it is damaging. Again, all I know about that case is what I've read in the newspaper and heard on television. Of course it's damaging when the judge says that.

REPORTER: Should he resign, do you think? Should a bishop in that situation resign?

BISHOP ROBINSON: If he were guilty he should. He maintains he's not. He maintains, in other words, he did not lie.

REPORTER: The response to the judge's criticism by some of the church's hierarchy has been instructed. While the church has publicly expressed regret for the priest's actions ... a whispering campaign has started designed to dismiss the criticism by discrediting the judge's motives. The rumours are defamatory and without basis. But once again, it's the messenger that's being attacked, with no heed being made to the message.

REPORTER: Church leaders turn a deaf ear to victims, says Peggy Rush, who thought the Towards Healing protocol could heal deep wounds she suffered at a Sisters of Mercy orphanage in Adelaide. But instead of healing, Peggy found the wounds reopened.

PEGGY RUSH: One of the conditions that they said they would see me was that I wasn't seeking legal redress. I assured them that I wasn't and I said likewise.

REPORTER: So they would only enter the Towards Healing process if you weren't talking to lawyers?

PEGGY RUSH: That's correct. I have that in writing from them. They responded within a month and said that they had sought legal advice and that they were not legally liable. Now they made a mockery of Towards Healing and a big sham. I wasn't seeking legal advice or legal redress and requested that they did the same. But they didn't. They went and saw their solicitor.

REPORTER: Legal liability or not, Peggy was emotionally, physically and sexually abused during the eight years she was in the Sisters' care. She still has difficulty discussing the sexual assault.

RUSH: I was 10 years of age. I prefer not to talk about that; I did report it to the nuns.

REPORTER: Was it a member of the church?

RUSH: No. It wasn't. It was a family member, which I did report to the nun.

REPORTER: But the nuns made no effort, they didn't take your complaint seriously? They didn't call the police?

RUSH: No. Never. Never.

REPORTER: She also endured severe physical punishments... Including regular beatings and the daily requirement that kids earn their keep by making bundles of cardboard tags for a local meat company. Peggy said she worked 10 hours a day or longer if she was punished.

RUSH: We would be up sometimes to one o'clock in the morning finishing off our punishment to start again the next morning for the next 20 bundles, and we would go and sit in the bathroom on the cold tiles to keep ourselves awake. There was no such thing as not doing or not finishing your punishment because you got belted then.

REPORTER: The greatest wound was emotional, caused by the forced separation from her impoverished mother, who had sent her and her sister, Mary, to Australia under the child migrant scheme. She wanted the children fostered until she arrived to care for them. Instead, they were put in an orphanage.

RUSH: Mum was then blocked from coming out. And I have all the government documents to prove this.

REPORTER: Officials refused Peggy's mother migrant support. It took three years to save the full fare, she arrived to find the church wouldn't give her kids back.

RUSH: They thought we had, my sister and I, had come from an orphanage in England, and therefore that they had custody of us. Mum had never, ever given up custody.

REPORTER: How long was it before they...?

RUSH: Sixteen, before I went to live with her.

REPORTER: And were you allowed any time at all to see her? 

RUSH: No. In all that time from when I was seven I never got to spend one day, whole day, or one night ever with my mother.

REPORTER: And let's be clear about this. Your mother hadn't given you up. She hadn't put you into care?

RUSH: Definitely not. No, she had not. '

REPORTER: The church justified its decision by branding Peggy's mother a wicked woman, questioning her morals because a male neighbour sometimes drove her to the orphanage for her weekly hour-long visit ... usually, because she'd missed the tram.

RUSH: Now in one of my welfare reports, the nun reports that my mother is an undesirable woman. She has men waiting for her while she visits the girls. And you know, it was one man. Mum had no relationship with him. He had no purpose coming into the orphanage to see us.

REPORTER: Peggy's mother worked and paid the orphanage 10 pounds a week to provide for the girls, but it wasn't good enough.

RUSH: She was very capable. She was a very hard-working woman. She was a strict Catholic.

REPORTER: And all this time while the nuns were holding on to you, your mother was paying them to hold on to you as well.

RUSH: Yes. Yeah. And they sit on their pedestals now and are so self-righteous.

REPORTER: When Peggy approached the church, she asked that the sisters acknowledge the truth of her story, apologise, clear her mother's name and pay compensation for the physical and sexual abuse. All to no avail. We sought an interview with the order's head, Sister Mary Densley, but she didn't return our calls.

RUSH: The nuns have said that we're exaggerating. Or they use the words ... only a few might have been, you know, mistreated. It wasn't only a few ... it was many who were abused. Physically abused, mentally abused, spiritually abused every day for years.

REPORTER: The flood of sexual abuse allegations involving Catholic clergy poses a direct and serious threat to the church's coffers. And a desire to protect that wealth, rather than deal with victims in a moral and ethical way, seems to drive the response of many church leaders to complaints.

FORSTER: The church is terrified of compensation. They are terrified of having to pay anything. One positive way to force the church to seriously address this issue would be if they have to suffer some serious financial pain.

REPORTER: The Brisbane judge who sent the pedophile priest, Father Reg Durham, to jail seemed to agree. Judge Howell said the church should pay the victim a substantial six-figure sum. He said if he had the power to impose the penalty, he would, but he also doubted the church's sense of justice.

JUDGE'S COMMENTS READ: The lies, stonewalling, stubbornness and obstructionism of church representatives in this matter does not give cause for confidence that the church will now display the honesty and decency to make a meaningful apology and meaningful payment to the complainant from its vast resources.

REPORTER: Should the church pay that woman involved in that case a six-figure sum?

BISHOP ROBINSON: I can't answer for a particular case. I'm ...There is no real point even asking me. I don't know the circumstances.

REPORTER: But it would be that...

BISHOP ROBINSON: There are cases where I would not for a second quarrel with a six-figure sum.

REPORTER: How many cases have there been that have involved payments of six-figure sums?

BISHOP ROBINSON: I would not know what the payouts have been. I'm not told.

REPORTER: How can you construct a healing process, then, if you don't know what the payments are, what the compensation is?


REPORTER: At least so you can spread it ... pass on the information to other clerics?

BISHOP ROBINSON: It would be good to have information. But I don't have that information on payouts.

REPORTER: Church leaders keep compensation payments a closely guarded secret. Most result from confidential out-of-court settlements or through the Towards Healing protocol. More than anything else, they fear the kind of penalties imposed by courts in the United States, where the bill runs to hundreds of millions of dollars. The most recent was in the Dallas Diocese, where a priest abused 11 altar boys over 15 years. It cost the church $38 million.

FILE FOOTAGE COURT IN DALLAS 1992: Yesterday the jurors said the church was guilty of gross negligence for not stopping Kos at the first sign of trouble, and they asked the judge to read aloud their message to the Church leadership: "Please admit your guilt (underlined) and allow these young men to get on with their lives" ... a unanimous verdict by the jury. The church has admitted nothing. Nor has the bishop even apologised. Instead, he hopes the actions of one man will not be used to defame the work of many fine priests.

REPORTER: David Forster says the Australian church and its advisors will resort to any means to protect their wealth.

FORSTER: They're ruthless, they're devious. They fight cases tooth and nail, and they use every trick in the book to deny fair compensation.

REPORTER: The supposedly pro-victim Towards Healing protocol helps keep payments down. It entices victims away from the courts by promising justice in the church's warm embrace. Joan put her faith in the process and found justice was the last thing she got.

JOAN: No, I'm not satisfied at all. I feel very saddened by the response that I've received.

REPORTER: Joan was a teenager when she was sexually abused by Father Francis Derriman, jailed for the crime last year. She was then treated abominably by the parish priest to whom she and her mother complained soon after the assaults.

JOAN: I have two distinct memories of that meeting. One was being asked why was I still going to Holy Communion. And the other one, when I left, being told that it's time for me to go away and find someone of my own age. I went in there feeling very disturbed and distressed and came out feeling guilty as well.

REPORTER: Nothing was done about her complaint.

JOAN: I was never supported. No-one made any contact with me and I was also lead to believe from the police statements that Derriman really didn't even get a slap over the wrist

REPORTER: In fact it continued happening didn't it?

JOAN: In fact it did. He went on to abuse other children.

REPORTER: Joan entered years of therapy. Finally, in 1997 she went to the police. With a conviction loading the dice in her favour, she then approached the church for an apology, for counselling and for compensation. The Brisbane Archdiocese agreed to negotiate, and eventually apologised and offered counselling support.

JOAN: The outcome of that meeting was to say that discussions for compensation would be ongoing.

REPORTER: But that's where it ended. The Archdiocese broke its promise to even consider it should pay for the crimes of its priest. The bishop in charge claimed the question was never on the table.

JOAN: He said he was not aware that this had been part of the deal.

REPORTER: That it was being discussed?

JOAN: That it was being discussed.

REPORTER: Yet it was on the agenda.

JOAN: Yes, and I referred him to both the agenda and to the follow-up report from the meeting, and he said he would have to find those letters because he was not aware of them.

REPORTER: The Archdiocese then said there would be no money.

JOAN: I really wanted to test the system, to see if the institution was any more supportive, or any more honourable in its intention than it was thirty years ago.

REPORTER: What's your conclusion?

JOAN: My conclusion is that there's nothing different. Their treatment of me appears to be abuse all over again.

REPORTER: When the church does agree to compensation, it's far from generous.

KARYN WALSH, SUPPORT GROUP: It has simply covered the costs of what the harm has created for them. The costs of medical support, the costs of extra social support, the costs of counselling.

REPORTER: Victims of two notorious cases involving the Christian Brothers in Western Australia and the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland, were offered a maximum of $27,000.

REPORTER: How can the church decide what is appropriate for it to pay in compensation?

SR ANGELA RYAN: I don't think the church decides as such. Often that gets left to the lawyers. Often it is worked with people in a mediation process.

REPORTER: Sister Angela Ryan, like Bishop Robinson is highly regarded by victims groups, but has the invidious task of defending a protocol repeatedly undermined by some church leaders.

REPORTER: But at the end of the day the victims have got to take what they are given.

SR ANGELA RYAN: Well, I guess they can go to court...

REPORTER: If victims do sue the church, they face enormous emotional and legal hurdles. To begin with, even identifying a defendant can be a real problem.

FORSTER: Legally, the Catholic Church doesn't exist. The church is made up of a whole range of religious orders. So it is very complex working out who is actually accountable and finally, which is the most ironic, we in the Catholic Church don't have any money to pay you, because all our assets are nicely tied up in trust corporations, and you can't establish that the managers of that trust corporation has been negligent.

REPORTER: Some victims, like Stephen Woods, go to court because they want to publicly expose the church's appalling record of protecting criminals and burying crimes. It's a festering sore Towards Healing hasn't closed.

STEPHEN WOODS: It's into protecting their social standing and their power base and their money sources, and so it doesn't take much intelligence to work out what they want to protect the most. It's definitely not the children. It's the institution.

REPORTER: Woods says that for years church leaders knew about the three clerics who attacked him, but turned a blind eye and they continued offending. Woods was 11 when he was first sexually abused by a Christian Brother at St Alipius school. A year later, after he transferred to nearby St Patrick's College, another brother began molesting him.

WOODS: My life started to collapse around me, emotionally, sexually and psychologically. Just started to collapse.

REPORTER: After two years of constant abuse, he complained to the school chaplain, which made it worse.

WOODS: I went to Father Ridsdale for help because I thought, well, you know, go to a priest with, you know, for deep problems. And so I was told I was a good little Catholic boy, and I did that, and he raped me. That was the last time I went back to him.

REPORTER: When you went to court with Ridsdale, and subsequent to that, you found that you were just one of a very large number, weren't you?

WOODS: I was one of many. Many, many. With Ridsdale, I think there was about 25, 30 people came forward, and virtually every one of those had been raped to some degree, and a number of them being raped many times over.

REPORTER: Thirty victims abused during a 21-year period testified against him. He's now serving an18-year sentence. And the victims were also dismayed when Ridsdale arrived at court in the company of the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr George Pell, who'd worked in the St Alipius parish in 1973.

FORSTER: In my mind, and I think in most people's mind, the signal that the Archbishop of Melbourne gave to the community when he went to provide Father Ridsdale to some court proceedings is a sign of support. That doesn't give a message to the community that the leadership is committed to routing out this problem.

REPORTER: In the end, Woods didn't have his say in court. After four long and difficult years he accepted a confidential settlement. Concern remains over the church's unwillingness to expose sex criminals in its midst. It will respond when victims demand action, but if church leaders have ever reported one of their own to the police, it's never been publicly acknowledged. In a 1995 case, involving three priests from the St Gerard Majella order, police complained they were denied information.

FILE FOOTAGE: SGT PETER DEVINE: Our members tried to gain information from the Bishop's office at Parramatta which met with basically negative response.

REPORTER: The Forde Royal Commission in Queensland and the Wood Royal Commission in New South Wales were both critical of apparent cover-ups.

FILE FOOTAGE NEWS REPORT: Council assisting Paddy Bergin said, despite good intentions, there was somewhat of a gulf in what might need to be done and what is done.

REPORTER: The Wood Inquiry called in the Bishop of Wollongong to answer claims he'd refused to help police investigating the disgraced Christian Brother Michael Evans, and that he'd ignored a complaint from one of Evans' victims.

FILE FOOTAGE FROM NEWS: Despite promising to help, the Bishop did nothing. Evans remained the school's headmaster for another seven years.

REPORTER: It's clear the church faces a long struggle to win back the confidence of the community on this issue. Whether it can do that is the big question.

WOOD: If they wanted to make amends, why not just admit everything? These are people who claim to be representatives of God. That's the currency that they base their credibility on ... Stop hiding behind all the barristers and QCs. Admit what has gone on. Admit the cover-up and take the discipline.

LAST: I feel grief-stricken. I feel that these are some of the darkest times that the church is going through right now. I feel that the church is not living up to what it was created for. It is not honouring its vocation. I feel that it has a lot to answer for to its most hurt and vulnerable people

OWEN: I found the greatest thing I missed out on in life, Paul, was to practice the religion that I loved so well when I was a small boy at that home, before I started to be sexually abused, Paul.

BISHOP ROBINSON: Each bishop, each religious leader who handles a case badly really must answer for themselves. I can try to call them to account, but I can't do any more than that.

REPORTER: They just don't take any notice of you if they don't want to?

BISHOP ROBINSON: And if they don't want to take any notice of me, that's their choice.

REPORTER: Clergy responsible for Towards Healing have asked an independent academic lawyer to review it. But ultimately, its success depends on the willingness of church leaders to relinquish a little independence and embrace it with one heart. To show the kind of faith they expect parishioners to show in them.

JOAN: My faith is in what is espoused by the Catholic Church, not necessarily what they actually do themselves. And I think they are two different things. When I see Christ's message, I believe it's still something that we should all live by, and I'm not sure that many people in the Catholic institution are living by those messages themselves.

ENDS.  (Source : http://abuseatneerkol.blogspot.com.au/) 

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