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Catholic Church in Australia comes forth with child abuse cases

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 24th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has described the recently revealed statistics as "horrific and shameful." Australia's Roman Catholic Church has finally come forward to admit that more than 600 children have been sexually abused by its priests since the Thirties in the state of Victoria.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Campaigners say the actual figure could be closer to as many as 10,000 victims. The recent admission came in a submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into the handling of abuse cases.

The church confirmed that the 620 cases went back 80 years, the majority of the instances taking place between the Sixties and the Eighties. There are an additional 45 cases under investigation.

Archbishop Hart said it was important to be open "about the horrific abuse that has occurred in Victoria and elsewhere."

In a written statement, Hart continued, "We look to this inquiry to assist the healing of those who have been abused, to examine the broad context of the church's response, especially over the last 16 years, and to make recommendations to enhance the care for victims and preventative measures that are now in place."

Chrissie Foster, whose two daughters were raped by their parish priest from the mid-1980s, said the church had many years, decades to address the issue but has just only revealed the figure to the Victorian inquiry last week.

"It's only been victims coming out and going to the police that have stopped all of this.

"The church has never lifted a finger to stop their pedophile priests," Foster added. One of her daughters has since taken her own life.  

The Victorian state government announced the inquiry into the handling of child abuse cases by religious and non-government bodies after the suicides of dozens of people abused by clergy.

Abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests has been a major issue in Australia recent years.

Pope Benedict XVI met some of the victims and made a public apology for the abuse, during a visit to Australia in July of 2008.

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