Catholic Church 'shouldn't run schools' unless it reports abuse revealed during confession: survivor

By Elise Scott
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
December 13, 2017

Damian De Marco took aim at the Catholic Church's running of schools.

Child sexual abuse survivor Damian De Marco is calling for the Catholic Church to be banned from operating Australian schools unless it agrees to report abuse revealed during confession.

The call comes as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse prepares to hand down its final report tomorrow.

Mr De Marco said government support should be pulled from Catholic schools unless the church promises to protect children over its own reputation.

"I don't think they should have a license to run schools anymore if they continue to promise to their institution that they will conceal child sexual abuse," he said.

The Canberra-based child safety campaigner fronted the royal commission after decades of fighting to prevent children suffering abuse.

Mr De Marco attended Marist College, which was the subject of dozens of allegations of sexual abuse against several brothers.

The college has since apologised to the victims.

Senior church leaders have said on several occasions they would not abide by a royal commission recommendation to break the seal of confession to report child sexual abuse to police.

"They continue to say 'we are above the law of society'," Mr De Marco said.

"If they continue with that, how can they continue to be funded and supported by our government with our children?

"They don't get it, they still don't get it."

'It has to come to an end'

He fears politicians will not act on the commission's toughest recommendations, concerned allegiances to religious institutions will create a conflict.

"How can we continue with the knowledge that they've been running a secret judicial system hidden from our society, trafficking paedophiles from place to place ... allowing more and more children over and over again to be abused?" he said.

"It has to come to an end."

Mr De Marco believes the royal commission has enlightened society about the problems within the Catholic Church.

But he is concerned the institutions will continue to yield power in the community.

"The Church has drawn a line in the sand and said 'we believe we are still entitled to be above the law'," he said.

"Now it's up to society, do we let them, do we not?"


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