If what you hear in the confessional box should continue to stay there, it will be considered by the child sexual abuse royal commission as it again turns his attention to the generalization of the offender in the Catholic Church in Australia this week.
The former Victorian priest, Paul David Ryan, imprisoned in 2006 for 18 months for indecently assaulting a victim, revealed during a 2015 private hearing that he confessed his sexual activity with adolescent boys to her confessor on multiple occasions.
Asked if that was the way in which he reconciled his actions with God, he said: “Yes. Well, I thought that I was. I know that it was very seriously flawed.”
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During the next few weeks, the royal commission will look at issues such as the sacrament of confession, celibacy, such as priests and religious are selected, trained and supervised, and the church structure and governance as it explores why the abuse of child was so prominent in Catholic institutions.
The body of the coordination of the church’s response to the commission upholds obligations to report child sexual abuse should not extend to the disclosure of the information in the confessional.
The Truth, Justice and Healing Council ceo, Francis Sullivan, believed that there was no public evidence before the commission of someone actually confessing a crime of sexual abuse of children under the seal of confession.
Alerted to Ryan’s testimony, Sullivan described it as an absolute abuse of the sacrament.
“If he says that he is using the confessional as a way of alleviating his guilt, so he can continue abusing the people, that is an absolute corruption of the use of the confessional and not for what it is,” he said. “As a Catholic, that repulses me.”
The commission has also heard the Melbourne pedophile Father Victor Gabriel Rubeo uses a confessional of the situation to “pull out” of her confessor, who had been alerted by one of the priests victims.
“He gave Me absolution, and, as he walked toward the door, he was laughing at me,” the ex-priest Philip O’donnell said a 2015 audience. “In other words, he made sure that I could not talk to anyone. I felt totally trapped by that situation.”
Sullivan says that it is to the royal commission if it is recommended to change the laws of secret.
“If they do that and if the governments change the law, then priests, like everyone else, will have to comply with the law and, in case you do not comply with the law, to take the consequences.”
A spokesman for the victims ‘ advocacy group Broken Rites Dr Wayne Chamley, said that the answer to why the abuse occurred is complex.
“Certainly, it is not just celibacy,” he said. “I think what they’re going to get is that this whole process of religious formation, where essentially people were depersonalized, so they were not capable of empathy.”
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The royal commission has received information on more than 4,000 institutions, but Sullivan has recognized the Catholic church is the single largest institutional environment in which the children have been abused.
“It is very important in these three weeks that the phenomenon of abuse of power, people who abuse their positions of power and privilege, is explored,” he said.
In the lead up to the end of the Catholic of the hearing, Perth archbishop Timothy Costelloe, again apologized for the church failures and the pain it caused so many.
“The prevalence of sexual abuse of children and young people in many institutional settings in Australia, including the churches, indicates that there is a disease at the heart of our nation, that simply must be addressed,” Costelloe said.
Sullivan said the church in Australia was going to take very seriously the recommendations or conclusions of the royal commission, although there may be issues that could only be dealt with by the Vatican.
“If the royal commission is talking about changes in the Catholic church, which can only occur in Rome, and then Rome needs to deal with that,” he said. “The Australian church is going to deal with what the Australian church can be treated. It is as practical as that.”
Sullivan said the church had already made many changes, including the commissioning of an independent body to ensure that Catholic entities adhering to the new national standards to protect children.