There is no excuse for covering up child sexual abuse.
Nothing should ever get in the way of reporting this sickening crime.
It is one of the worst atrocities a human can commit.
A child’s life is fragile, innocent and vulnerable – for an adult to violate a defenceless, powerless child should be considered one of God’s greatest sins.
Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, would rather go to prison than report child sexual abuse revealed in confession.
This kind of belief and action enables paedophile behaviour.
Denis Hart started training for the priesthood in 1960 alongside Cardinal George Pell and Father Tony Bongiorno.
Cardinal Pell is now facing historical child sex offences and the Melbourne Catholic archdiocese has admitted to Bongiorno committing child abuse for thirty years.
Hart was ordained in 1967 at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. He went on to become a hospital chaplain, assistant parish priest and then master of ceremonies for the church.
He became a parish priest in 1987 and Vicar General in 1996.
In 2001, he replaced Cardinal George Pell as Archbishop of Melbourne.
Since becoming Archbishop, Hart has used his influential presence in the media to spread negative opinions about marriage equality and to defend the church against allegations of child abuse.
In a briefing with the Royal Commission in 2013, Hart was questioned about paedophile priest Desmond Gannon. Hart had sent a letter to Rome about Gannon in 2012 but the Commission heard Hart had taken steps to stop Gannon as early as 1993.
Hart was casual in his response.
This glib, flippant response creates such searing pain in victims of child sexual abuse and triggers pure outrage amongst the wider disbelieving Australian community.
Hart was decades too late.
The Royal Commission has since made 85 new recommendations aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse.
The Commission has suggested there be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for priests who fail to tell police about child abuse uncovered in confession.
Hart was among a slew of priests who lashed back at the Royal Commission regarding mandatory reporting.
“I believe that this is an absolutely sacrosanct communication of a higher order which priests by nature respect, they don’t ever want to do anything that would hurt children,” Hart said.
He suggested leaving confessions confidential would have benefits for both offender and victim.
“[It’s] perhaps the only opportunity where a person who has offended or a child who has been hurt can have the opportunity for broader advice and then outside the confessional for appropriate action to be taken.”
Perhaps Hart needs to be reminded child sexual abuse is a crime – something in which the legal system alone should decide what is ‘appropriate action’..
Child abuse should always be reported.
If a paedophile can be stopped from harming a child, a person should do everything in their power to do so.
The church is not immune from the law.
If doctors can break confidentiality to protect a patient from themselves or others, so can priests.
It’s time to bring offenders to justice.
We can stop these paedophiles and the men in power who protect them.
We can stop these crimes together.
If you believe you have been abused by a member of the clergy or an institution, we are here to help you.
Please fill in a claimant information form and take action for justice today.
Image source: the Herald Sun