Mp Scathing of Catholic Archbishop during Parliamentary Debate on Confessional Seal

By James Oaten
August 29, 2019

PHOTO: Victorian MP Paul Edbrooke (right) read out a letter his father Nick (left) received. (ABC News: Supplied)

A Victorian Government MP has revealed his father was sexually abused as a child as the Parliament holds an emotional debate on legislation that would compel religious leaders to report knowledge of child abuse.

Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke also launched a scathing criticism of Melbourne's Catholic Archbishop Peter Comensoli, after the Archbishop defended convicted paedophile Cardinal George Pell and ruled out ever breaking the confessional seal.

"It certainly takes a man detached from all logic and reality to go on radio and sell our community this rubbish," Mr Edbrooke told Parliament.

"But it certainly takes an even stupider one to expect people to believe it.

"What an insult to our community and our survivors."

Mr Edbrooke started his speech saying his father, Nick Edbrooke, had "his innocence torn away" at the age of 15 after arriving in Melbourne in the late 1960s.

He then read from a letter that his father, now aged 64, received from the church a month ago, which revealed further details of the abuse.

He did not reveal who wrote the letter.

An extract of the letter said:

"Dear Nick,

I thank you for allowing me this important opportunity to express extreme regret for what happened to you. I've read your detailed account of the night you were raped.

You spoke of how you stayed face down in the bed of your room too afraid to move, and then how you ran out of that place as soon as you could, leaving your possessions there."

The letter revealed Mr Edbrooke's father walked around the city in a "daze" and attempted suicide.

He was admitted to hospital but later transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

The letter continued:

"Every child deserves to be safe, to be loved and cared for.

I'm so sorry this was not your experience.

We humbly ask for your forgiveness."

Church 'closing ranks with the boys'

Mr Edbrooke said his father supported the letter being read out in Parliament if it helped pass legislation that would force all religious leaders to report information about child abuse, even if obtained during confession.

On the day the legislation was introduced to Parliament, Archbishop Comensoli told the ABC that he would rather go to jail than break the confessional seal.

The Archbishop also said he believed Pell was the victim of mistaken identity, after the Cardinal's six-year jail sentence for sexually abusing two choirboys was upheld by the Victorian Court of Appeal.

Mr Edbrooke told the Parliament the church's defence of Pell was "astonishing".

"By falling in line, closing ranks with the boys, Comensoli has utterly failed the leadership test," Mr Edbrooke said.

"If Jesus was here now, he'd be the first, the very first to report child abuse without exception and without exemption."

Archbishop Comensoli's representatives declined to comment.

Attorney-General fights back tears

Earlier in the day, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy became upset as she told Parliament how victims kept their abuse secret for many years.

"They weren't believed and institutions covered it up and people took their lives," she said, holding back tears.

"They could not bear to live with the consequences of being a victim of child sexual abuse when no-one believed them.








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