‘Facing The Truth’ After All These Years? It’s Unlikely.
by Chrissie Foster on 25 September 2012
After reading HELL ON THE WAY TO HEAVEN on the night of the launch, our local MP Ann Barker (whom, until then, I had not met) said something had to be done about Catholic clergy child sexual assault. When copies of my book were presented to the Victorian Parliamentary Library in April last year, Ann publicly announced she would write to the Attorney General, Robert Clarke, to ask for an inquiry into the Catholic Church over its handling of clergy child sexual assault. This April, after much public outpouring and media help, that inquiry was announced.
Last Friday, the 21st of September, was the deadline for submissions to the Parliament of Victoria Family and Community Development Committee’s inquiry into sexual abuse of children in religious and non-government organisations. This last day was the day the Catholic Church chose to make its submission, even though the deadline had been extended by three weeks. The Catholic Church’s late action ensured that the inevitable publicity that surrounded their submission left no time for victims or people with information, who had not previously known of the inquiry, to come forward and make a submission.
Media reports surrounding the Church’s submission stated how Church hierarchy, regardless of the fact that child sexual assault and rape is a crime, chose to accept the promises of offending priests that they wouldn’t reoffend. Offenders did not deny the sexual assaults, just promised not to ‘repeat’ the assaults. When these priests were found to reoffend, the hierarchy still did not remove, defrock or assign a desk job to these offenders, but again chose to relocate the offenders to new children. They did this for 80 YEARS. Are they really that unintelligent, or are they just culpable? One thing is certain; they never lifted a finger to help the children. Frightened children had to grow into hurting adults and report their assaults to the police before the abuse was stopped.
In the past, Church hierarchy – the Pope – has blamed the Irish, the media, Western Society, homosexuals, and American Society for the abuse that occurred on their watch; never themselves or their policies. The last thing the Pope said about the Catholic clergy child sexual assault crisis was that it was a ‘mystery’. Trying to make the abuse sound like something holy or mysterious, instead of something they are to blame for, by their actions and inaction.
Now, Church leaders want us to believe that the ongoing nature of the abuse was the fault of the paedophile priests, because of their degree of ‘cunning and deceit’. Not the hierarchy’s fault for their uncaring management and bad company policies. After reading some of the feeble excuses the Catholic Church made for their inaction to protect our children, I did this interview.
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Chrissie Foster was born in Victoria and grew up in Black Rock, a beachside suburb on Port Phillip Bay. She worked as a public servant for nine years, during which time she travelled extensively around Europe, the US and Mexico. She married in 1980 and by 1985 Anthony and Chrissie had three beautiful daughters, Emma, Katie and Aimee. Paul Kennedy is an ABC television presenter, senior print journalist, and director of an award-winning short film. He is married with two sons and lives in Melbourne.