MY SAY: Catholics deserve to get answers from the church

CARDINAL George Pell, you owe Australian Catholics the duty of returning to your country to face the child abuse royal commission in person.

Actually, correct that. You owe the world this courtesy.

I'm sorry you are not well. Hopefully, your doctor can prescribe medication to make the journey from Rome back to Australia easier.

But there are too many unanswered questions around the Catholic Church for you not to make a supreme effort to come back.

I'm not Catholic. But my sons go to a Catholic school and my sister-in-law is very devout.

For a long time I have been guilty of downplaying the countless stories of children abused in the church's care.

"It's only one or two bad eggs in the church," I've thought as I skimmed over the issue.

This was wrong. And for my indifference I apologise.

I have interviewed several adult victims of childhood abuse before.

And I have never, ever met one who has come to terms with what happened.

While their torture may be over, the horror and shame of what occurred to them never seems to fade.

That horror and shame is compounded when it was by someone who was a religious figure in their faith.

To be abused by a priest, a messenger to your God, must shatter belief.

And faith is fundamental to so many people, it is fundamental to me.

What makes it worse though is when the perpetrator of your abuse appears to be shielded by the institution he or she works for.

Of course I didn't just wake up to these revelations this morning.

Neither can I say I have been stewing over them for months.

It took a movie, a brilliant movie, to achieve the rare ability of opening my eyes to what has been going on around me for years.

That movie was Spotlight and if you haven't seen it, you really should.

Not only is it a good movie, with great acting, it tackles a subject most of us have heard about and perhaps didn't pay much attention to and makes you pay attention.

Or maybe that was just me.

To see how the Catholic Church in Boston, America, shielded its priests was disturbing.

But the most disturbing moment was at the end of the film when the lists of cities around the world where this kind of abuse was occurring are screened. The list is exceptionally long. The research in Australia suggests there are more than 100 cases from in the Catholic Church in our area. I couldn't care if there was only one. It would be one too many.

I am sure Cardinal Pell could help shed a spotlight - excuse the pun - on what happened.

I hope he is man enough to do this.

If he doesn't, he runs the risk of turning people away from a faith that is beautiful because of the failings of not-so-few bad men.

All Catholics, all Australians in fact, should be insisting this happens.

The future of the church and our children is too precious to overlook it.

His evidence is due to be heard via video link over three days from February 29.

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