Not the time: Bishop won’t comment on Royal Commission into abuse

NOT READY TO COMMENT: Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna.
NOT READY TO COMMENT: Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna.

BISHOP of Bathurst Michael McKenna plans to study the recommendations put forward from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse before having his say on them.

The 409 recommendations, aimed at keeping children safe, were handed down in a 17-volume final report on December 15.

Bishop McKenna, whose diocese includes Catholic parishes in Orange, Dubbo, Mudgee and Cowra, said it was not the right time to respond to the report’s recommendations.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now concluded its work and delivered its report to the Australian Government,” he said.

“Very soon, we must begin to study the multi-volume report and consider the recommendations that the commissioners have made. Then will be the time for a full response.

“For now, we should acknowledge gratefully the work of everyone who has participated in the Royal Commission, especially those who have told their stories and those who have listened to them.”

We should acknowledge gratefully the work of everyone who has participated in the Royal Commission, especially those who have told their stories.

Bishop of Bathurst Michael McKenna

The final report states that 30 case studies were conducted and they revealed “many religious leaders knew about allegations of child sexual abuse yet failed to take effective action”.

A key recommendation from the report was the Catholic church should request permission from the Vatican to introduce voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy.

The report stated “compulsory celibacy (for clergy) and vowed chastity (for members of religious institutes) have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors”.

“There is an elevated risk of child sexual abuse where compulsorily celibate male clergy or religious have privileged access to children in certain types of Catholic institutions, including schools, residential institutions and parishes,” the report continued.

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