Today’s release of redacted Royal Commission findings regarding former Cardinal George Pell’s knowledge of historical abuse in Melbourne and Ballarat has once again exposed the many significant and serious failings of the Catholic Church to protect children in its care.
Maurice Blackburn National Head of Abuse Law Michelle James said while today’s redacted findings would be of little surprise to many survivors, they remained deeply disappointing in highlighting systemic abuse and the inexcusable lack of leadership within the Church to help those who had been abused and to protect countless other children from further abuse.
“We act for many clients who were abused in the Melbourne Archdiocese and Ballarat Diocese and sadly for a number of them while today’s findings will be deeply disappointing, including that the abuse they suffered was known and not acted on, it will be of little surprise,” Ms James said.
“For some of our clients this is now compounded in knowing that the Church was not only on notice about their offender but allowed this to continue, in some cases over many years, with little care or regard for the countless numbers of children who continued to suffer harm.
“Today’s findings further reinforce that the Catholic Church must now act urgently in doing the right thing by survivors.
“In too many of our cases, including cases against the Melbourne Archdiocese and the Ballarat Diocese, we continue to see the Church denying responsibility behind complex legal structures and making it very difficult for survivors to access justice.
“Our clients have waited long enough, and as findings like today’s make clear the Church has had more than enough time to act in showing it prioritises the safety and wellbeing of children in its care and the adult survivors now seeking redress.
“We call on the Catholic Church to act on these findings, including in taking a fair and genuine approach to its dealings with abuse survivors,” she said.