Inquiry Found Church Failures LED to Abuse
December 6, 2017
The Ballarat Catholic Church's catastrophic and inexcusable failures led to more children being sexually abused by its clergy, a royal commission has found.
The response within the Diocese of Ballarat to abuse complaints spanning at least three decades was driven by a desire to avoid scandal and protect the church's reputation, the commission said.
Priests were moved to another parish if allegations emerged where they often offended again.
The inexcusable failures led to more children being sexually abused by Catholic clergy in the diocese.
'That failure led to the suffering and often irreparable harm to children, their families and the wider community,' the commission said in its report released on Wednesday.
'That harm could have been avoided if the church had acted in the interests of children rather than its own interests.'
The commission's investigation exposed a catastrophic failure in the church leadership and ultimately its structure and culture over decades to effectively respond to its priests abusing children.
'There was a catastrophic institutional failure which resulted in many children being sexually abused by Catholic clergy in the diocese,' it said.
'The response primarily revealed a desire to prevent or minimise the risk of scandal and to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church.'
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also said former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns and other clergy were dismissive of complaints and victims.
It pointed to Bishop Mulkearns' extraordinary and inexcusable failure to act on a mother's concerns about her son living in a Mortlake presbytery with priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale, who he knew had abused boys.
'Bishop Mulkearns' conduct was appalling,' the commission said.
The commission also criticised the grossly inadequate response by those in positions of authority to widespread rumours about Christian Brothers sexual misconduct around boys and complaints of sexual abuse in the early to mid-1970s.