Victims need law reform, not church guidelines

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church has today released their non-binding guidelines for responding to civil claims for child sexual abuse following harsh criticism of existing practices from victims and the Royal Commission. These guidelines have no legal force and do not bind any part of the Church.

The guidelines are available here: http://www.tjhcouncil.org.au/media/109704/151123-MEDIA-RELEASE-Catholic-Church-releases-guidelines-for-responding-to-civil-claims-for-child-sexual-abuse.pdf

Greens MP David Shoebridge said:

“While the guidelines specify that the church will “assist the claimant to identify the correct defendant to respond to the legal proceedings” there is no guarantee this will be a body capable of paying reparations.

“No one doubts the Truth, Justice and Healing Council and its members are aiming to provide some assistance to victims but the fact remains they have no power or authority over any part of the church.

“Victims deserve more than a partial set of guidelines that are not even adopted by the Church.

“If these guidelines are to have any effect they must immediately be adopted in full, otherwise they are nothing more than a PR exercise.

“Regardless, a non-binding set of guidelines is no substitute for meaningful law reform.

“With Cardinal Pell now out of the picture it is time for the Church to accept the recommendations of the Royal Commission and agree to law reform that abolished the Ellis Defence.

“These guidelines show more than ever the need for legislation: justice for victims of child sexual abuse should not be up to the whim of the church, but should be a matter of law.