Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and other religious institutions

Pedophile priest, Father Risdale, who is said to have abused hundreds of children, walked to the Melbourne Magistrates Court with his support person, Bishop Pell – Source: Broken Rites

12 November 2012 – 5.30pm: Breaking news. Prime Minister Gillard announced, this afternoon, that the government has agreed to a royal commission into institutional responses to allegations of child sex abuse in Australia – The Australian


Everyone I know agrees we need a national (not state) Royal Commission into child sex abuse – AKA child rape – in the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.

There are now several petitions floating around the internet, but I’m very pleased and proud to be one of eight well-known Australians to launch the petition below.

Petitioning the Prime Minister of Australia:  Australian Government: It’s time for a Royal Commission into child abuse by the clergy including the Catholic Church

At the invitation of Catherine Deveny, social commentator, comedian and celebrity, I’ve joined with:

  • Jane Caro, social commentator, media personality and education expert
  • Michael Short, editor at The Zone and editorial writer for the Age
  • Father Bob Maguire
  • High profile PR consultant and corporate strategist, Sue Cato
  • Andrew Knight, writer of shows such as Sea Change, Fast Forward and Rake (and multi-award winner)
  • Josh Bornstein, principal in charge of employment and industrial law practice at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
  • and Catherine Deveny

to launch this petition today.

That’s a pretty high powered group with amazing contact networks. And you can be sure this is only the beginning of the lobbying process. A major media release will also be issued later today.

Lawyers worked through the weekend to establish there is no constitutional law impeding the government from calling its own national Royal Commission into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.

THIS is the petition that needs to go viral in the same way the Alan Jones petition went viral.

Will you help? Blog it, Facebook it, Tweet it, talk about it to your friends and work mates. We have the power and this time, we have some really very big names behind us.

Chrys Stevenson

Related Reading:

Detective challenges O’Farrell over Catholic abuse claims – ABC News

Former priest alleges system of abuse cover-ups – ABC News

Royal commission on church abuse is not the answer: Hockey, Shorten – Sydney Morning Herald

19 thoughts on “Royal Commission into child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and other religious institutions


    Can non-resident citizens, and resident non-citizens, or non-Australians in other countries sign this petition as well, or would they have to be deleted before it was presented? Or is it only those entitled to vote in Australia? I live inn New Zealand, and a few of my NZ friends living in Australia would like to sign a petition like this, and so would a number of my friends here.

    The church needs to do more than it has done. What it has done, by moving priests from parish to parish, state or province to state or province, and even from country to country to protect paedophiles makes it entirely complicit in the abuse. It has even tried to claim that if child sexual abuse is happening, it is because the children are seducing the priests.

    The pope needs to put out a Bull, aimed at paedophile priests and their protectors. Own up and submit to local police forces. Accept your earthly punishments. Failure to do so within six months of the issue of the Bull would mean that if allegations are made, that priest, bishop, cardinal, or any other person, must turn themselves over to the local authorities within one week. Failure to do so will lead to the anathema of the church, and, if pleading guilty, a period of exclusion from the church, before reconciliation. If found guilty at trial, the accused should be excommunicated, with no hope of reconciliation to the church.

    It will test the faith of those priests who really do believe in a god, but may be the only way the church will continue. Until something like this occurs, the catholic church, from the pope downwards, has no moral standing in anything: their opposition to marriage equality; their anti-gay activities and statements; and in any other “moral” issue.

    While the church continues to deliberately shield paedophiles, its moral statements are worthless.


    Calum Bennachie

    Sent from my HTC

    1. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

      I’m not aware of any mechanism for stopping non-Australians from signing these petitions and, I think, if people from other countries have sufficient interest in an Australian issue to sign, there should be no problem with this. Effectively, it says to our government – this is not just an issue which affects Australians, but the world-wide community. It also says, “This is an issue which is adversely affecting Australia’s international reputation.” I’d welcome signatures from anyone who believes the behaviour of the churches is outrageous and the inaction by our government makes them complicit.

  2. doug Steley

    the photo of Pedophile priest, Father Risdale with his church appointed support person George Pell is even more disturbing and disgusting when you know that the church gave absolutely no support to the victim of abuse who brought this case to court.

    They were left to fend for themselves as they had broken the “Sanctity” of the Holy Roman Church.

    There needs to be a royal commission into the whole evil bunch of them.

  3. Julia

    Petition signed.

    One thing I think is: being a Roman Catholic should be regarded as a conflict of interest when appointing Commissioners & probably their staff too). Maybe a cattlelick to give advice on church admin, rituals, organisational set up, but with no involvement in the Royal Commission or its investigation.

    The Irish Commission uncovered appalling abuses, far beyond anyone’s imaginings. It also highlighted in its findings the total lack of co-operation by the church, including deliberate obstruction & cover-ups … not only by senior Irish church heirarchy but … by the Vatican itself.

    My opinion of Pell is unprintable, but it starts with: birds of a feather stick together … and not just when it comes to covering it up.

  4. Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear: Assorted Rants on Religion, Science, Politics and Philosophy from a bear of very little brain Post author

    12 November 2012 – 5.30pm: Breaking news. Prime Minister Gillard announced, this afternoon, that the government has agreed to a royal commission into institutional responses to allegations of child sex abuse in Australia – The Australian –

  5. eva

    This is wonderful news. Along with the Macdonald/Obeid investigations in NSW, it shows that the system can sometimes call the powerful to account. We await with interest the terms of reference.

    1. treacl - Tony Harewood

      Unfortunately, ‘wrongdoers may continue under different veil(s)’…

      It’s great that events of the past may finally be dealt with – just a shame that there’s so many levels of protection. Royal commissions are the final step!

  6. Jayel

    From the article: <>

    Am I the only one already feeling uneasy by this consultation with the very organisations that are being investigated in order to determine the terms of reference? Why do I feel like some kind of ‘deals’ are going to be done? Am I being too cynical?

    1. Jayel

      Sorry, I lost the quote. It was : So, over the next few weeks, we will be consulting with the organisations that represent the survivors of child abuse, with religious organisations, with state and territory governments, to ensure the terms of reference are right.

  7. Team Oyeniyi

    Chrys, I only got the email of your post after the RC had been announced. Great work from all concerned.

    I agree with the comment above, I think Catholics should be excluded when appointing Commissioners and staff. However, then a charge of vindictiveness/lack of fairness could be waged.

    Appoint all atheists? Same problem.

    Not sure how best to solve it, but a conflict of interest must be avoided at all costs.

    Let us hope it doesn’t take 10 years.

    1. Team Oyeniyi

      Chrys, I’ve been battle a thought yesterday and today. As you know I recently wrote an article about women and religion, A quick google search shows I am not the first to write such as I did, and I doubt I’ll be the last. In fact, I was relatively tame compared to some writings I found!

      I can’t help thinking there is a possible connection between the treatment of women by religions and the treatment of children. After all, if the mothers are not respected and treated as equals, why should the children be seen as anything other than the product of those second class citizens? This goes back to time immemorial. I am not wording this very well, it is not my area of expertise, but the thought just keeps running through my head. I feel you may be able to consider the link far batter than I can!

      Another quote I found, or was directed to, is this:

      In the year 584 CE, in Lyons, France, forty-three Catholic bishops and twenty men representing other bishops, held a most peculiar debate: “Are Women Human?” After many lengthy arguments, a vote was taken. The results were: thirty-two, yes; thirty-one, no. Women were declared human by one vote! ~ Council of Macon

      I don’t know if that is accurate, but I believe it may well be.

      I don’t usually drop links, so please feel free to delete this comment if you feel it inappropriate!

  8. Mike W

    It’s amazing the number of things under Pell’s direct responsibility that he claims to have no knowledge of due to “not being brief” yet he wanders around firing off his “learned” opinions on the creation of the universe, evolution, and the social rights and obligations of non-Catholics.


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