On Wednesday the report by the parliamentary inquiry in the Australian state of Victoria into the matter of sexual abuse was tabled in parliament.
It contained a number of recommendations which will now be considered by the state government.
The archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, welcomed the report. “It is our hope that the Inquiry, and its recommendations, will assist the healing of those who have been abused,” he said in a statement published Wednesday.
He admitted the failures of the Catholic Church to deal with the sexual abuses. “It is the worst betrayal of trust in my lifetime in the Catholic Church,” he said.
“I fully acknowledge that leaders in the Church made terrible mistakes,” he went on to say. “These are indefensible. We know that the long-term suffering of victims and their families continues. On behalf of the Catholic Church in Victoria I apologise again for these failures to the victims, to their families, and to the community.”
The report was critical of Cardinal George Pell, who before being appointed as the archbishop of Sydney was Melbourne’s archbishop from 1996-2001.
In his statement of Nov. 13, Cardinal Pell admitted that church authorities were slow to deal with abuses and sometimes did not deal with them adequately at all. “This is indefensible,” he said.
“On a first reading of a very detailed report, there are many recommendations I would strongly support,” Cardinal Pell commented.
“The report makes some criticisms of Catholic processes,” he noted. “It also acknowledges they are a genuine attempt to help,” he added.
“The church is committed to making improvements wherever possible and to following the law at all times,” he explained.
“I commit myself to doing whatever further is required and appropriate so that we can bring a bit more peace,” Cardinal Pell said. “I repeat these words today and continue to stand by them.”
The newly elected Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, was asked to comment on the report and he defended Cardinal Pell as being “a fine human being, a great churchman.”
Cardinal Pell was the first “senior cleric who took this issue seriously,” he affirmed.
Abbott deplored the abuses that had ruined people’s lives, but also pointed out that the issue went beyond the Catholic Church to involve many other institutions.