REUTERS, THE AUSTRALIAN, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Australia)
SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for a Royal Commission, the highest form of investigation in the country, into the hundreds of child abuse cases within the country's institutions, including abuses and cover-ups by the Catholic Church.
Gillard sais she wants the commission to take as long as it needs: "I don't want some artificial sense of deadlines to impede what could be good work that we want done," meaning that the inquiry could run for several years.
The Catholic Church has reacted to the decision by saying that a royal commission was a chance to clear doubts about the church, and has defended its internal processes of dealing with abuse allegations, The Australian reports.
Cardinal George Pell, the head of Australia’s powerful Catholic Church acknowledged the “shame” of child sex abuse among the clergy – although he warned that the extent of the problem within his church had been exaggerated, according to Reuters.
Cardinal George Pell
"We acknowledge, with shame, the extent of the problem and I want to assure you that we have been serious in attempting to eradicate it and deal with it," Pell told the Sydney Morning Herald.
The scope of the commission is expected to move beyond the Catholic Church and target all institutions, including religious institutions, charities, schools and groups such as scouts and sporting clubs.