The royal commission into child sex abuse is investigating
how the Vatican dealt with allegations of abuse against its
priests in Australia.
Commission chair Peter McClellan has written to the Secretary
of State of the Vatican City, asking for a copy of all
documents held in Rome relating to complaints of sexual abuse
by priests and religious leaders in Australia.
Justice McClellan hopes the documents will shed light on how
complaints were handled by the Catholic Church.
"We have asked for copies of documents which reveal the
nature and extent of communications between Catholic
congregations in Australia and the Holy See," Justice
McClellan will tell Griffith University in Brisbane.
"From these documents we should be able to determine how
church authorities in Australia, under the guidance or
direction of the Vatican, have responded to individual
allegations of abuse."
The commission has received some documents from the Vatican
relating to its upcoming public inquiry of the Wollongong
But Justice McClellan says the Vatican has yet to respond to
his request for documents relating to other sexual abuse
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child
Sexual Abuse has so far heard allegations of abuse at the
Scouts, YMCA, three schools, two church dioceses and the
Justice McClellan warns that the potential for abuse still
exists at those institutions.
"All of these institutions continue to exist (and) the risk
of abuse accordingly remains," he says.
Based on information the commission has collected, Justice
McClellan says there are at least 30 other institutions which
must be examined in public hearings.
A "significant portion" of the institutions reported to the
commission by abuse survivors were faith-based, Justice
"Many of these are Catholic institutions," he says.
Justice McClellan says the commission has received stories
from more than 1730 people in private sessions and has
referred more than 160 matters to the police for
The commission is due to provide an interim report to the
federal government by June 30.