Image source: www.thepunch.com.au
The Australian Royal Commission into Organizational Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will result in moves to legislate for mandatory reporting and prosecution of those who have covered up past abuses. It will be a big fight to avoid this, led most likely by the Catholic Church’s PR unit which was set up to deal with the fall-out of the Royal Commission. It is therefore necessary to see what the newly-appointed advisor to the PR Unit, Mr. Ian Elliot, from the Irish equivalent committee, believes about such matters.
Firstly, Mr. Elliot states that “He is not a fan” of state enquiries such as the Ryan enquiry in Ireland and the Royal Commission in Australia. Here, he is in agreement with his new employers. ”I’m not a fan because they tend to be very costly, take a long period of time and often tell you what you already know,” Mr. Elliot is reported as saying. Given how he has been duped in the past by Irish Catholic Church officials, the last part of this statement appears to be a little disingenuous (see previous posting: The Mushroom).
Mr. Elliot claims that most of the data he had uncovered, was offered voluntarily by the Catholic Church. This led him to state that ”Why do you need a statutory inquiry for it if you can get it another way?” This is not a surprising belief given that, presumably, it was a significant reason why he got the job.
What is a little surprising is that he is not a believer in out-of-court settlements, which he describes as being “unacceptable”. It is not clear if he is referring to the cover-up aspect of accompanying confidentiality clauses, or whether he is referring solely to the cost of such settlements. It would be interesting to see what he believes about the Ellis defence and hiding behind the statute of limitations regulations.
Most importantly, Mr. Elliot is a defender of the confessional with regard to revelations of child sexual abuse, especially by members of the clergy. He is on record as believing that legislation to force priests to break the seal would be “unenforceable,” “impractical,” and “a distraction from the main issue.” Further, he feels that “there should be room to allow clerics to keep secret details passed on when someone seeks forgiveness.” Mr. Pell will be pleased.
Mr. Elliot’s arguments have not been successful in Ireland, where Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has ruled out exempting the confession box from long-awaited rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse. Ms. Fitzgerald has stated that “The point is, if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody. There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions. I’m not concerned, neither is the Government, about the internal laws, the rules governing any body.”
Much work to be done here, Mr. Elliot.
Read more here:
TOMORROW: Victorian enquiry: Ballarat
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)