Scathing Review of Royal Commission Response

Photographer Jeremy Piper

Photo: Jeremy Piper

Francis Sullivan Speech

The most expensive and longest running Royal Commission in Australian history is about to come to an end with the final sitting to occur on the 14th December and the final report to be released the day after.

A month before the conclusion of the $500 million royal commission Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council has delivered a scathing review of the Australian Catholic Bishops after 5 years of hearing victims’ stories of child sexual abuse and institutional responses.

“This royal commission is 2 years too long and 20 years too late,” Sullivan said.

In a period of 1950 to 2010, 4,445 individuals have alleged abuse by 1,880 perpetrators in more than 1,000 Catholic institutions.

“When I started this job, I honestly thought that maybe we were dealing with maybe 100 paedophiles.”

Sullivan’s impassioned speech was very critical of the Australian Church’s culture and handling of the issue.

“The days of the all powerful Catholic Church are well past and with it the influence as moral persuader has been damaged, if not irreparably, for at least generations.”

“The Royal Commission has revealed a deep-seated illness, even pathology in our Church.”

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council outlined a number of areas where they believe reform is required in the life of the Church.

“The Church is still structured like a medieval realm, only men can occupy positions at the top and only men can make the most important decisions about personnel appointments and succession to rule.”

Sullivan concluded the speech by saying the Church needs to be more inclusive and better at listening ahead of the Plenary Council in 2020.

“The leadership should place on the table any issue that could lead to a healthier, more inclusive, responsive and vibrant church life.”

“Most importantly, in these days we need to become a listening church because these are dangerous times for our Church.”