Priest wants families probed in child sexual abuse inquiry

Father Paul Kelly accepts priests and some church members have done “terrible things” but says recent allegations of pedophilia within the BBC and the Sesame Street TV series were evidence of the wider scope of the problem.
Father Paul Kelly accepts priests and some church members have done “terrible things” but says recent allegations of pedophilia within the BBC and the Sesame Street TV series were evidence of the wider scope of the problem. Robyne Cuerel

THE head of the largest Catholic congregation on the Fraser Coast has cautioned people against believing the Royal Commission into child sex abuse was going to end the brutalisation of minors.

Father Paul Kelly, of St Mary's Catholic Parish in Maryborough, said people were falling into the trap of believing the Federal Government inquiry would "quickly flush out pedophile priests or other church members and then sexual abuse will just go away".

"This inquiry is going to turn into a showcase of, while you point the finger at the bogey man, beware the person right next to you," he said.

"It is already being talked about as a Catholic Church clean-out and it is definitely not just the Catholic Church that needs probing."

Father Kelly said he accepted priests and some church members had done "terrible things" but said the recent allegations of pedophilia within the BBC and the Sesame Street TV series were evidence of the wider scope of the problem.

"I am not trying to pass the buck here but let's have an inquiry into families and how and why so many have covered up, or are covering up, sexual abuse."

Fr Kelly said he had heard from hundreds of victims of child sex crime over the years whose parents had failed to protect them.

"It is time to look at this massive blight on our society that has been going on for far too long. I believe the percentage of sexual abuse within the home is estimated to be as high as 90% of all cases.

"The damage done by people turning a blind eye because Uncle Sammy or Grandpa or dad's best buddy Jack are close family or friends is incalculable.

"I have always advised those victims to seek legal help but too often it is all too late."

Fr Kelly suggested a parallel inquiry into victims of family sex abuse was appropriate if the terms of the Royal Commission cannot incorporate his call to action.

"This will help deflect the hysteria that is currently prevalent about the role of the church and particularly the Catholic Church in sexual abuse," Fr Kelly said.

"Such an inquiry will prove that this is not just a church problem but is community-wide."

Topics:  catholic church child sex families father paul kelly maryborough priest sex abuse

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