SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced a national inquiry into institutional responses to child sex
abuse after a series of scandals involving pedophile priests.
Gillard made the announcement following claims by a senior policeman that the Catholic Church in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales destroyed evidence and silenced investigations. “There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil,” she said. “I believe in these circumstances that it is appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission.” Gillard had been under growing pressure to establish a national inquiry after the recent allegations as well as an ongoing inquiry in Victoria state, but said the probe would be broader than just the Catholic Church. “This is not a royal commission targeting any one church,” she said. While the terms of reference have yet to be decided, the commission will cover all religious organizations.
A police investigator last week alleged that the Church had covered up sexual abuse of children in the Hunter Valley, to protect pedophiles and its own reputation. New South Wales also announced an investigation into the allegations after Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox claimed the church hindered police, alerted offenders and destroyed evidence.