IT’S volume four that Lou Pirona is most interested in.
Like the families of other victims of predatory Catholic priests, Mr Pirona is taking more comfort in the fact that charges are looming for at least one of the Church’s senior clergy who covered up for a priest’s paedophilia.
‘‘The fact of the matter is that senior Church officials were protected, and could have remained protected forever by the Church hierarchy,’’ said Mr Pirona, whose son John took his own life in 2012 after ‘‘too much pain’’ from being sexually abused as a child by Hunter priest John Denham.
John’s death was the catalyst for the Newcastle Herald’s Shine the Light campaign, which led to the federal royal commission into institutional child abuse.
‘‘There were serious, critical failures by very senior Catholic people, and they would have kept failing if people like Peter Fox hadn’t stepped forward,’’ he said.
‘‘I haven’t read all of the special commission’s report, but frankly, no adverse findings against Peter Fox will detract from the courage he showed when he stepped onto the stage at the public meeting in Newcastle and said what he said.
‘‘I’m sad for him. I certainly wouldn’t quibble with the findings of a judicial inquiry, but those findings don’t necessarily mean that he did the wrong thing.
‘‘They can say what they want about department procedures, but I think that victims, all victims, would hold him in very high esteem for what he has done.’’
His reaction was echoed by numerous victims and their families throughout the Hunter.
Peter Gogarty, who has written a lengthy response of his own in today’s Herald, said many people will feel vindicated by the commission’s findings and in particular, the potential for criminal proceedings against senior Catholic clergy.
In Melbourne, Anthony and Chrissie Foster said the special commission was a ‘‘magnificent exposure of what the Catholic Church has been doing’’.
Two of the Fosters’ young daughters were raped by a priest. They have campaigned relentlessly for justice.
‘‘I am sure that Peter Fox is suffering,’’ Mr Foster said last night. ‘‘But what has happened is that he has opened up on Church officials who covered up these crimes. I’ve only read the first volume of the special commission’s report. The important thing in all of this is justice for the victims and seeing the corrupt Church officials held to account.
‘‘That wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for people like Peter Fox.’’