The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had a wasted day today. Commissioner McClellan spent most of the time questioning Lismore bishop, Geoffrey Jarrett (see previous posting) about the Pope Benedict ruling in 2001 that bishops should report paedophile priests to the Vatican.
Jarrett had been recalled for this purpose. Jarrett Lismore had not observed this directive from the Pope because he was not aware of it until 2006, following a conference on canon law. “Directives can come to the bishop who – they go to the chancery and they will remain there on the file and perhaps not be remembered or acted upon,” Jarrett said.
McClellan put the obvious proposition to Jarrett that “So if the protocol is observed, relatively fewer cases would end up being reported to Rome, wouldn’t they,” with Jarrett giving the obviously expected reply that “I suppose so. But the evidence is that, nonetheless, there have still been many cases reported.”
One of the three cases Jarrett had reported to the Vatican took two years for a reply to be sent that the offender offer a Mass for his victims on Fridays. That priest is now retired and living in the presbytery with other priests in Lismore. Jarrett has not opted to remove his priestly faculties. However, he said he would have written to the priest in 2004 to tell him he was not allowed to have contact with children, but couldn’t recall whether he had written to remind him of it since then.
Basically, the commission, for all its efforts, has only discovered what everyone else has known for years and years. That is, the Catholic Church responded to allegations by shifting priests around, hiding behind lawyers and letting insurance officials determine how much hush money to pay the victims.
Perhaps the commission people were getting tired after a long year. This hearing’s finish now means a break for the Christmas- New Year and summer holiday period, with resumption at the end of next January.
[Postscript: The author did not go to Sydney to “talk” with the commission officials today (see yesterday’s postscript. An official phoned this morning to make it clear that the commission will decide who gets to give evidence – end of story. The author rejects this and reaffirms his right to give evidence at the next hearings, which will cover his old Children’s Home, “Alkira”, which was run by the Salvation Army, with government funds.]
Read more here:
TOMORROW: The Commission’s first year
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)