Church Must Respond Quickly to Abuse Claims: Carpenter

West Australian
July 13, 2008

The Catholic Church needs to be prudent in responding to allegations of sexual abuse, Premier Alan Carpenter said today.

The controversial Bethel Convenant Community in Perth announced it would close last week after years of allegations of tyrannical leadership styles and inappropriate conduct by leaders including the touching of women's breasts.

The closure was announced the day after Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey apologised for failing to act on allegations of sexual misconduct when they came to his attention eight years ago.

"The Catholic church and other organisations have had difficulties confronting some of the most unfortunate unsavoury things that have happened inside their organisations," Mr Carpenter said.

"And from time to time these revelations occur and it's incumbent upon people in high office to respond quickly and appropriately.

"There will be occasions when that response is deemed to have been inappropriate or not timely enough and this is probably one of them.

"But the Catholic church like other organisations is grappling with this sort of abusive behaviour ... and needs to make sure it responds appropriately and in a timely way," Mr Carpenter said.

The Archbishop's apology came just days before Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Sydney and as the Church is deals with revelations about Australian leader George Pell's handling of a sex abuse claim.

Fresh documents shows he dismissed a complaint against a priest because he gave weight to the priest's claim the encounter was consensual.

Mr Carpenter would not be drawn on whether Archbishop Hickey's position as leader of the Catholic Church was still tenable.


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