Royal commission: Archbishop Hart agrees terrible failure in handling abuse


TIM PALMER: The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne has acknowledged his archdiocese failed to act on complaints of clerical abuse of children in the past.

Denis Hart told the child sex abuse royal commission there’d been a complete failure of process in many cases. He says his predecessors had been guilty of “passivity”, although he excluded his immediate predecessor, George Pell, from that criticism.

Samantha Donovan reports.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The royal commission is examining the Melbourne’s Archdiocese’s handling of child sex abuse complaints against eight priests from the mid-80s to 1996.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, told the commission today there had been a terrible failure to handle abuse in his archdiocese.

DENIS HART: There was such a respect that only the Archbishop could act, that this introduced a paralysis.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Some witnesses have told the commission the church’s complex processes for removing priests from their duties are partly to blame for the inaction.

Senior counsel assisting the royal commission Gail Furness put that to Archbishop Hart.

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