Australia Royal Commission Recommends Sweeping Child Safety Changes in Catholic Church, Victims Respond

Statement by Steven Spaner, SNAP Australia Coordinator, (314) 994-3534

The findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission are a watershed moment in the child safety movement. Institutions and wrongdoers across Australia are now on notice that turning a blind eye to child sexual abuse abuse—or covering up abuse to save the reputation of a church or a school—is no longer tolerable.

Bishops will be quick to scoff that the report is anti-Catholic and an attack on the tenets of the faith. That is not true. The report is an attack on bad conduct—bad conduct that must stop. The way to stop bad conduct is through strict adherence to good policy. It also requires that the laity, whose children have been so deeply hurt, become stakeholders in the decision-making process.

Australia’s Catholic Bishops have some tough questions to answer. Some of the recommendations, including priestly celibacy, cannot be addressed by the local bishops. But others are vital to child safety, such as immediately implementing national child safety standards; publicly clarifying if information about abuse received from a child in the confessional is protected by the seal; reviewing and revising protocols for decision-making, priestly formation, pastoral effectiveness; and involving the laity in the governance of the church.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is

Contact – Joelle Casteix (,  Barbara Dorris (, Melanie Sakoda, (

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