Catholic church failed to act on paedophile priests, says Melbourne archbishop

The Guardian

Australian Associated Press
Monday 30 November 2015

The Catholic church failed to act on the “horror story” of paedophiles in its midst, Melbourne archbishop Denis Hart has told the royal commission.

“What is now apparent to me is that there was knowledge and a failure to act,” Hart told the child abuse royal commission.

“Reading the victims’ statements that I have in preparation for the commission, I have just been totally appalled by the extent and the depravity of the offenders and the suffering and ruination of lives of the survivors.”

Hart said there had been a terrible failure by the church resulting from the passivity or inactivity of his predecessors.

But he excluded Cardinal George Pell, the Melbourne archbishop from 1996 to 2001, from the criticism.

“As archbishop he instituted the Melbourne Response and really made big changes,” Hart said.

Hart criticised Frank Little, the Melbourne archbishop from 1974 to 1996, for his handling of abuse complaints. Hart said there was a complete failure of process in the Melbourne archdiocese’s handling of complaints in the Doveton parish, where a succession of paedophile priests were sent. He said that was down to Little and the vicar general at the time.

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