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The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse: Why we need to know the whole truth.

Since the release of George Pell subsequent to the quashing of his conviction for abuse of a child, the next step would seem to be the release of further testimony given at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. The Victorian Government is now leading the call for its’ immediate release, and we commend and support this initiative.

The argument to withhold this testimony has been that it would be prejudicial to a fair hearing during the original proceedings regarding Cardinal Pell, and this could be deemed to be fair.

Now that there is a line drawn under those proceedings however, there is a new call for the release of the testimony regarding Cardinal Pell and the historical processes and conduct of the church. This too, would seem to be the fair and right thing to do. The implication was that it was being held for a specific purpose and now that purpose in no longer relevant.

It is our opinion that in order to continue to move forward as a society grappling with the enormous magnitude of what the Commission has uncovered to date, full disclosure, while painful, can also be reassuring. We need to be both advocating and being seen to advocate for truth no matter what that truth is . A deliberate suppression of the truth engenders distrust in the process and suspicions that often far exceed the reality. So what is the delay?

The argument against releasing the redacted material is now put forward as being unfair to the victims who came forward so bravely to tell their stories. Their trauma remains ever fresh and painful despite the years that have past. This would seem to be a very shallow excuse. Unless the victims of these crimes are very specific in wishing to go public with their grievances, all victims are provided with anonymity in the public forum. They are provided with acronyms in court proceedings, their legal claims are settled in confidentiality, and there is never an issue of any of these claims being outed in a public forum.

In the release of the further testimony provided to the Commission, this too is a simple matter of redacting that which could be telling of any victim to which it referred. What we want to know is, what questions were asked of Cardinal Pell and what were his responses. What questions were asked regarding the conduct of the Catholic Church and what was the testimony as to those questions. It is not the victims who are in question here, it is the institutions themselves as to their historical conduct over decades.

The public funded the Commission, much of their findings were indeed published and the world did not come to an end as a result. If there are those who would suppress the transparency of this public process, it begets only mistrust, suspicion and disillusionment of those who have a right to know. The whole problem is that these crimes of abuse of children are committed in secrecy and perpetuated with intimidation by those in a position of power. The ongoing protection of the powerful over the disenfranchised is what caused this problem in the first place. The time to clear the air and make the world a safer, better place for the generations of children to come is now. Let’s be courageous and call for the release of the un-redacted testimony. The process needs to be part of the answer, not a continuation of the problem.

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