The Catholic Church in Victoria, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, have rejected separate allegations made in relation to them by submissions to the Victorian government inquiry into the handling of child abuse.
The Church has rejected an allegation by Victoria Police that it hides pedophile priests and talks victims out of reporting sexual abuse to police, according to an AAP report published by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Victoria police, in its submission to the state government's inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations, said victims of sexual crime are too often being talked out of reporting the matters to police, while the suspected offenders are sent elsewhere.
They said the Catholic Church's "Melbourne Response" - set up to assist victims - appeared to be a substitute for criminal justice and not a single complaint had been referred to police.
But Father Shane Mackinlay, from the Catholic Church in Victoria, said the police submission contained many errors and failed to consider the choices of victims. "We certainly reject any suggestion that we're seeking to hide offenders at this point," he told AAP.
"We condemn that, we oppose that and we would encourage police and co-operate with them in them pressing charges."
The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, in response to another submission to the inquiry, has vigorously rejected claims that he was present when allegations of rape were made by a victim against another priest, Brother Robert Best.
In a media statement released yesterday, Cardinal Pell described the claims, by legal firm Waller Legal, as “irresponsible, untrue and… absolutely rejected”.
“Unfortunately, factual errors in the submission to the Inquiry made by Dr Waller of Waller Legal, relating to Cardinal Pell’s presence in the Diocese of Ballarat in 1969, have been repeated by media outlets across the country,” the statement added.
Cardinall Pell said he was not even in Australia at the time.
For more information, go to www.facingthetruth.org.au
Introduction and executive summary
Church says it doesn't hide abuse claims (SMH)
Statement by the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney (Release)
Cardinal Pell says he was out of the country when boy told of rape (Australian)
Church structure must change, says advocacy groups (SBS)