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Catholic Church Rejects Key Recommendation of Australian Child Abuse Inquiry

Catholic Church Rejects Key Recommendation of Australian Child Abuse Inquiry

Other amendments include making it easier to take internal disciplinary action and permanently remove from ministry priests or religious against whom abuse complaints have been substantiated, or their dismissal if they have been convicted.

The panel also recommended that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference pressure the church's leadership in Rome to "consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy", saying that mandatory celibacy for priests contributed to child abuse.

The restrictions would apply to anyone who has themselves been convicted of sex offences and also applies to those who have spent five years or more in prison for crimes such as serious drug, homicide or fraud offences, the ABC reports.

"We must accept that institutional child sexual abuse has been occurring for generations".

The book of survivors' emotional messages was released to mark the end of a five-year investigation, which heard reports of abuse occuring in more than 4,000 institutions. "That's all it is".

A Royal Commission heard from thousands of victims and their families, and allegations were made against more than 4000 institutions. "Society's major institutions have seriously failed".

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The report reads: "We conclude that there is an elevated risk of child sex 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 Australian reports: "More than 15,000 people contacted the commission to share their experiences of abuse, more than 8,000 of them spoke personally with the commissioner about the trauma it caused, and approximately 2,500 cases have now been referred to police".

"In some case studies into schools the abuse was so recent that the abused children are still attending school".

It will be up to the Pope and his advisers to accept numerous Australian inquiry's far-reaching recommendations, including changes to canon law and voluntary celibacy for its priests.

"The country now knows that children in Australia's orphanages, children's homes, missions and foster care were sexually used by the churches, charities and the state government".

In another recommendation, the Australian bishops should also ask the Vatican whether the information heard about sexual child abuse in confessions is covered by the seal of secrecy and therefore can not be reported to the authorities.

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, said numerous commission's recommendations "would have significant impact on the way the Catholic Church and others operate in Australia".

The inquiry, which cost the Australian government more than $280 million, was unmatched in its scope in examining a scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic hierarchy worldwide.

"I would feel terribly conflicted, and I would try even harder to get that person outside confessional, but I can not break the seal", Hart told reporters. "The penalty for any priest breaking the seal is excommunication; being passed out of the church", Hart said.

"What that commission has done is exposed a national tragedy".

Many said they hoped the inquiry would end such crimes.

"I knew that it would be hard to get it right, and I was very concerned that if we created an inquiry that didn't work well it would end up retraumatizing survivors", Gillard said.

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