Catholic Church admits betrayal over sex abuse allegations

THE Catholic Church has admitted it betrayed its own people and the expectations of the wider community in its handling of sex abuse allegations.

But despite the admission, contained in a submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council has made no significant changes to internal processes designed to bring closure to victims.

The 200-page submission outlines the church's Towards Healing process, which was created in 1996 to help victims of abuse by Catholic priests.

The program will be the subject of a fortnight of intense scrutiny by the commission, starting on December 9 this year.

While the council has admitted grave faults across its investigation and response to allegations of child sexual abuse, the submission says only it is open to suggestions for improvements from the commission.

The church has proposed a national body to supervise the Towards Healing process but no process for independent oversight of repatriations for victims outside of church officials.

Among the internal problems the submission has outlined was a lack of central record-keeping of claims of child sexual abuse and "incomplete" records.

While the church acknowledged it was "conscious of the need for improvement", the submission identified the "absence of information" was a weakness in the Towards Healing process itself.

But a raft of other public submissions, including from a group of "Concerned Queensland Catholics" and the Australian Lawyers Alliance, have again raised a need for a fully independent process.

ALA spokesman Dr Andrew Morrison said the "bitter experience of victims" showed no body appointed by the church was truly independent.

The Queensland group called on the commission to recommend both the dismantling of the Towards Healing process, and the creation of a "truly independent and transparent body".

That submission argued that while the new body should be fully funded by the church, it should be at more than arms length from the religious institution "to investigate and determine complaints of abuse against the church".


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