MP appeals to Premier to hold royal commission into church abuse

LAKE Macquarie MP Greg Piper has sent a strongly worded personal appeal to Premier Barry O’Farrell to hold a royal commission into the Catholic Church’s handling of child sex abuse ‘‘as a matter of conscience’’.

Sexual abusers who committed crimes against children had been ‘‘all too frequently protected by the churches that, in effect, provided the opportunity and means to offend’’, Mr Piper said.

‘‘The actions of these abusers are not just indiscretions or sins that can be forgiven in a confessional; they are crimes against citizens of NSW, crimes against state law.

‘‘While there are many members of the Catholic Church, some in senior positions, who would support a royal commission into sexual abuse within the church, there seems to be a reluctance by the state to address the matter.’’

Mr Piper sent the appeal last week after increasing calls for a royal commission following the suicide of Lake Macquarie resident John Pirona, who left a letter saying he was in ‘‘Too much pain’’ after he was sexually abused by a Hunter priest in the 1970s.

While the opposition said it would back a special commission of inquiry into the issue, Mr O’Farrell has resisted any commitment to an inquiry, saying his government would closely watch the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the church’s handling of child sex abuse.

Mr Piper wrote that he knew Mr O’Farrell was aware of Mr Pirona’s death, but ‘‘this is only one of a seemingly interminable list of offences that we know have occurred’’.

‘‘For every offence we are aware of, it is highly likely that there have been many more. Many victims have no doubt carried knowledge of their abuse with them to their graves.

‘‘Premier, this deplorable situation has to stop.

‘‘The doubt that will always be in our collective minds about the extent of sexual abuse and the lack of appropriate redress for victims will remain a stain on our society, and a burden on the churches themselves until the matter is addressed to the best of our ability.’’

To join the call for a royal commission, add your name here.

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