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On 3 June 2019, 18 months after being ordered to do so by the country's Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, the Australian Catholic Church published its National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
The standards closely parallel the commission's recommendations as well as norms enshrined by the government in the National Principles for Child Safe Organizations, although some provisions were watered down.
Catholic sexual abuse cases in Australia, like Catholic sexual abuse scandals elsewhere, have involved convictions, trials and ongoing investigations into allegations of sex crimes committed by Catholic priests, members of religious orders and other personnel which have come to light in recent decades, along with the growing awareness of sexual abuse within other religious and secular institutions.
Criticisms of the Church have centred both on the nature and extent of abuse, and on historical and contemporary management of allegations by Church officials.
The Royal Commission established that some 4,444 claimants alleged incidents of child sexual abuse in 4,756 reported claims to Catholic Church authorities (some claimants made a claim of child sexual abuse against more than one Catholic Church authority) and at least 1,880 suspected abusers from 1980 to 2015.
By means of a weighted index, the Commission found that at 75 archdioceses/dioceses and religious institutes with priest members examined, some 7 per cent of priests (who worked in Australia between 19 Senior Counsel Gail Furness told the Commission that "Children were ignored or worse, punished. Documents were not kept or they were destroyed." By August 2011, according to Broken Rites, a support and advocacy group for church-related sex abuse victims, there had been over 100 cases in Australia where Catholic priests had been charged for sex offences against minors, as well as others involving non-custodial sentences and inconclusive proceedings.
In 2002, Vincent Kieran Kiss, 70, pleaded guilty in the Sydney District Court for sex crimes against four teenage boys, aged 13 to 17, between 19 at locations including Albury, Yass and Sydney.
Kiss was the Diocesan Director of Youth in Wagga Wagga at the time of the offences and the four victims were members of the Young Christian Students Association.
On 31 July 2012, NSW Police in Strike Force Lantle announced they would be providing prosecutors with evidence that Father Brian Lucas, general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Wilson of Adelaide and Michael Malone, retired Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, had committed the offence of concealing a serious crime under s316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in concealing child sexual abuse by the priest Denis Mc Alinden (now deceased) in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese.
The evidence includes an admission by then Maitland-Newcastle bishop, Leo Clarke, to Mc Alinden that "your good name will be protected by the confidential nature of the process" despite "your admission to Father Brian Lucas and other evidence" and a letter from the late Maitland-Newcastle monsignor Patrick Cotter to Bishop Clarke that Mc Alinden "feels no such inclination towards mature females but towards the little ones.
The Bishops Conference, established a national co-ordinating body, called the Truth, Justice and Healing Council to oversee the church's engagement with the Royal Commission and the pastoral and other ramifications that arose from the sexual abuse scandal.