Robertson's Book Makes False Claims: Bishop Porteous

September 15, 2010

Geoffrey Robertson's new book, The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, contains many dramatic and false claims, says Bishop Julian Porteous, auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and Vicar General.

"For a lawyer of some standing the claims in his book exhibit many errors," he told The Catholic Weekly. "Robertson is known for his polemical style, but polemics cannot excuse inaccuracy in facts.

"Robertson's assertion that the Church claims a right to deal with offenders internally without reporting them to the police is a distortion of reality.

"The Church deals with these crimes using its own laws and procedures, but it does not claim an exclusive jurisdiction. The Church's purpose in its internal processes is to protect the community by removing the priest from his ministry.

"The State's purpose is to protect the community by imposing a prison sentence.

"From the Church's perspective both systems of law work together for the good of the community.

"Does the Church, however, protect clerics, as Robertson argues? Tragically this may have happened in individual cases in the past, but for many years the Church in countries like Australia and the US has encouraged victims of clerical abuse to go to the civil authorities for police investigation and civil court action," Bishop Porteous said.


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