We call for the Commissioner to release to interested parties the generic data gathered over the past years on the more then 200 incidents in which the Commission has been involved. The 2002 "U. S. Bishops' Charter For Protection Of Children And Young People
" article 16 refers to "ARTICLE 16. Given the extent of the problem of the sexual abuse of minors in our society, we are willing to cooperate with other churches and ecclesial communities, other religious bodies, institutions of learning, and other interested organizations in conducting research in this area."
Here in Australia religious abuse survivors are denied the benefit of one of the largest sets of data available in regards religious abuse and a host of other areas of abuse such as institutional, clergy and sexual abuse. This information does hold the key to a greater understanding of perpetrators, their supporters and minions as well as a greater understanding of the state of mind and the needs of those who were victimised through no choice of their own by possibly the most influential and powerful of individuals within the abused child's community. This breach of trust which is acknowledged by its seems all involved parties, it appears the Catholic Church here in Australia does not agree with that position.
This document acknowledges many things which it seems are not acknowledged here in Australia.
Is this a rift or split in the Church. Does this mean that the Catholic Church will be divided on country lines based on the one hand of those who support the need to address the issue of paedophilia within its ranks as opposed to the Australian Bishops apparent view of supporting a much reduced, a non-committal non acknowledgement stance.
Denial is more easily understood, because it does not seem rational that one country or branch of the Church can see the ills and pains this has caused and has taken what in society today is seen as a step in the right direction. That Australia determinedly stands its ground and discriminates against its own parishioner base, victims and abusers and also flies in the face of scientific knowledge. The information received from those who were victimised, a great many of their parishioners, as well the vast majority of professionals in this area defies many aspects of the ethos of the Catholic church.
Looking at the cover-up scenario is where many victims find themselves. They are people who have been diagnosed with a wide range of psychological disorders. They are the least likely group in our society to achieve home ownership. They are amongst the highest risk individuals to suicide. They have amongst the highest rate of bankruptcy and poverty. When a person finds themselves in that situation and looks at the acknowledgement they get from the current Catholic system they are appalled, they are stunned and shocked - most have been brought up Catholic and have an understanding of justice as it has been taught to them from their Catholic schooling through to their weekly or better visits to church to hear directly from the pulpit of the evil of such deeds, These were very often abusive paedophile priests who then took it upon themselves to abuse in the worst possible way a small child. To interfere with them and to force their fingers and genitals into the body of an unwilling child. To force those children to repeatedly perform oral sex or to be made to watch a range of such bizarre situations that the majority of children subjected to these incidents are traumatised for the rest of their lives. The most grotesque image any human being can conjure is the very situation these children have been in - with the exception perhaps of a cruel death. In so many cases there were reports made and attempts to bring a halt to this un-religious, un-Australian, inhumane and degrading treatment. It was then that the power these abusers had over their congregations and their influence on many parents together with the sway that an everlasting life in hell produces was put into effect. If that was not sufficient then there was always the choice of a letter to the Pope, religious/social/community isolation or, failing that, it was alway there and so often used when all else failed - ex-communication is the most feared state by catholics, this means that ones soul after one dies is committed for all eternity to the fires of hell, the most horrendous eternal existence possible - for eternity - when this threat is used by an abuser or their supporters then this can only be called soul blackmail or religious blackmail. When a Catholic is confronted with that as a decision there is no decision for them, the question to them is existence or death - we all choose existence while there is hope. This is what many catholic mothers, fathers and family were presented with in an attempt to cover-up (what other words can be used here) the issue.
When time after time, when year after year, when event after event that was brought to the attention of bishops and others, when all a victim hears from these same people is a host of excuses - I was not aware the problem was so large, the church is dealing with those matters, it was a once off event, they undertook counseling. In fact they were first moved, moved on many many occasions, enough for abusers such as "Reverend John Kevin O'Donnell" who was able to move from parish to parish only because of the covering up and denial or, perhaps the collusion of those unnamed people responsible for moving rather then reporting these individuals. That "Reverend John Kevin O'Donnell" was able to sexually abuse more then160 individuals over a 20+ year span with many reports being made of his practices appears to many to be a literal impossibility in the Catholic church environment. Despite those repeated reports referred to in the majority of cases (we can not be more definitive then this as we are only able to calculate the numbers from anecdotal evidence, this is part of the information we would like to see released so that the true figures can be calculated and presented) few were directly addressed, most were swept away quietly. Those that persisted were presented with confidentiality clauses (again these were derided by the US Bishops Conference - yet upheld to the last here in Australia) which attempted to silence them and to remove any further rights from these now repeat abuse victims for taking that sort of advantage over someone who has been through religious abuse has to be seen for what it is - a repeat of the abuse of religious power, this is very often ignored by the legal system. WE can divulge here that due to the actions of members of TFYQA that a request was passed on to the Commissioner that this information be released for scientific study. This request was lodged on July 6th 2006. The Commissioners response was that he would give it some thought but was "snowed under". Being snowed under in case after case of religious abuse indicates the more urgently the need for the release of this data and the urgent need for scientific analysis as this would assist the Commissioner in his role.
The Commission has now processed some 200 cases. It will have amassed a large amount of information on both clergy abusers and victims which could be accessed and collated to provide some definitive answers and potentially solutions.
This information could be the greatest repository of information in the country and possibly the world in this area - it is not available for researchers and scientists to access and provide substantiated figures and build an understanding of the needs of all parties involved.
Confidentiality for those whose data is used is not difficult to achieve.
That would make many victims of these abuses feel that in some way there has been a turning and an acknowledgement of us all.
That would be a positive step that the Australian catholic church could undertake. This is more important when the US bishops conference has spoken out against those things which prevail in Australia,
Many victims see this as discrimination, discrimination on the grounds of ones Nationality and ones religion. Surely this calls for a re-think and re-assessment by the Church here in Australia.
Anything less would be difficult to accepted as acknowledgment of what is described by workers who treat religious abuse victims as one of the most horrific events that can happen to an individual.
One feels that the victims conscience should be clear, one feels that those in places where the differences can be made must have a very different type of conscience - one that is opposed to the conscience preached from the pulpit.
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia