So I know I'm judging too quickly and I see some things on her Wikipedia entry that put her politics at odds with mine on a few big points... but I gotta say, Metafilter keeps doing a bang-up job of making this American wish he could vote for Julia Gillard.
EMMA ALBERICI: You've said before that there is a disproportionately high number of child abusers among the Catholic clergy. Why do you think that is?
FRANK BRENNAN: That I don't know. I was referring to the evidence that was given before the Victorian inquiry by Professor Patrick Parkinson. Now the thing about Parkinson is he is an independent lawyer who's done a lot of work both for the Catholic Church and for the Anglican Church and he drew a comparison of the figures between the Catholics and the Anglicans.
Now that's an area where I think a lot more work is needed to be able to explain that. And at the moment, even Catholics, those of us of goodwill, we don't have an explanation for that. And I think that's where work is needed, and that's why in the past I've said the Victorian inquiry, underresourced as it is, has available to it the retired Justice Frank Vincent, who I think is one of the most outstanding retired criminal law judges in the country.
And so, I think to be able to draw on the resources of people like him as they forensically investigate those questions is critical. My worry now with a national royal commission which isn't just looking at the Catholic Church, but looking at agencies right across the board, I think it's going to be another five years before we get those sorts of forensic answers, which I was hoping we might get within some months.
This is not to be an inquiry into the monsters who, like that father, take advantage of the needy and vulnerable. I expect it to reveal more than we might like about why men and women just don't hear what children say or inquire into what they might say, who don't notice patterns of behaviour in popular or powerful men, and turn a blind eye to the demonisation of the children who go 'wild'.
I expect it to challenge some, at least, of the many men and women who, in their ordinary work and routine, deny the probability or truth of children's stories, of managers and pastors who choose to defer and refer responsibility to others and who wash their hands of the results of others' failure to achieve justice; who choose, in committees and after conferences with counsel, to decline to participate in investigations; and who may even be naive enough to accompany a paedophile to court: who escort from their desks those who try to act effectively about reporting and protecting the abuse of children's rights; who take comfort in their insurers' advice, and protect the reputations and safety deposit boxes of their respectable institutions.
It will take years — the Irish commission took ten — and millions, and will destroy some reputations and lives and ambitions: and it may not be fair. It will not target just the Catholic Church.
This is a direct call, to reassess the status of children. Compensating damaged adults and listening to them now is not enough. It sends a warning to all those comfortable people who believe in their own virtue. You should not be comfortable. Your sacred space has been defiled. Your institutions designed to protect children instead have given comfort and protection to their rapists and bullies.
May there be hope for the boys and girls who are being groomed and frightened today and tonight. May this Commission's work tie a millstone around the necks of those who have hurt these little ones, by not loving and respecting their rights. May we see a sea change.
Abbott released his statement calling for a royal commission at 3.33pm on Monday, before cabinet met but by when Gillard had already made her decision. The two did not discuss the matter.
[Abbott] said in a statement that "if the government were to propose a royal commission to investigate the sexual abuse of children, it is something the Coalition would be prepared to support".
"Any investigation must be wide-ranging, must consider any evidence of the abuse of children in Australia, and should not be limited to the examination of any one institution," he said.
Senior federal Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has declared that priests should report child sex abuse crimes revealed in the confessional to police.
On Wednesday, Mr Pyne - who is a practising Catholic - said that as a member of Parliament, it would be wrong of him to advise citizens not to report crimes, particularly something as serious as child abuse.
''If a priest, or anyone else, is aware of the sexual abuse of children that is going on, I think there is an obligation on them to report it to the appropriate authorities,'' he told ABC Radio.
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