Archbishop Denis Hart dismissed a call to overhaul the Melbourne Response to handling sexual abuse by clergy saying it has delivered "compassion, counselling and compensation" to hundreds of victims over 14 years.
Meanwhile, The Age continued its report on abuses, highlighting a five year old verbal abuse of a woman by the Archbishop, over which he has apologised in court. A "very, very angry" Archbishop Hart reportedly told the woman, who had complained about abuse by priest Barry Whelan, to "go to hell, bitch" after she knocked on his door at 1.20am in March 2004.
The woman was the subject of an intervention order after she had thrown stones through a window of the archbishop's house and hassled him and his staff, The Age said, adding that Melbourne Magistrates Court magistrate Anne Goldsborough said Archbishop Hart apologised for his "appalling and ungracious act" during a hearing.
Yesterday, Archbishop Hart said in a statement that the success of the Melbourne Archdiocese Response meant there is no need to review or fundamentally alter it.
"Since 1996, the scheme has attracted no significant criticism from the vast majority of victims it has compensated. Overall, the system's procedures and outcomes have been highly positive."
He said victims of abuse were free not to use the archdiocese's response system, and every victim is reminded of their right and encouraged to report allegations of criminal conduct to the police.
The Archbishop's statement calls Church appointed independent commissioner Peter O'Callaghan "a barrister of outstanding probity and legal distinction" who has investigated the complaints of all victims independently and in a compassionate manner.
"I think the real great tragedy has been that there are any victims at all. The huge suffering of people who have been abused by priests and others whom they should have been able to trust - it just tears at my soul," he said.
He said the Church "wants to do everything that we can to put things right."
The Church believes the method used has proven to be effective and meritorious, providing both ex gratia payments and pastoral counselling for victims of sexual abuse, he said.
"I fully support the Melbourne Archdiocese Response and the work of its Independent Commissioner, Peter O'Callaghan. The Archdiocese will not be making changes when none are needed" said Archbishop Hart.
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Archbishop affirms importance of the Melbourne Archdiocese Response (Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne)
Sex abuse victim told to 'go to hell' (The Age)