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Men [of God] at work in Australia

30 Mar 2001

AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY, New South Wales - A report drafted for the Australian Catholic bishops' conference states that clergy sexual abuse is a "direct result" of the unequal treatment of men and women in the Church.

Though confidential, a copy was obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald a week before the bishops gathered to discuss it at their annual meeting. The document was commissioned by the bishops in 1996 as part of their program to deal with clergy sexual abuse. The report blamed the male celibate "culture of the Catholic church" for a "denial of the feminine" that contributed to a climate where abuse could more readily occur. "It was clear from the responses that certain offenders believe by engaging in sexual offenses with children they have observed the rules about adult women vis--vis celibacy," it said.

Wanderer, 12/9/99; NCR, 11/10/99

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MELBOURNE, Victoria - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese here has paid or offered millions of dollars (Aus.) in compensation to 80 victims of sexual abuse by 21 priests. 70 victims have settled. The amount paid in each case is not known but advocates say the archdiocese usually pays victims between $20,000 and $35,000, with up to $100,000 having been paid in previous cases. Analysis indicates the total payout could be in excess of $2 million.

The payments have been awarded since Oct. 1996 by the Independent Commission into Sexual Abuse set up by Abp. George Pell. He revealed in an interview that 208 people had been assessed for counseling, 70 receiving on-going help and 30 in preliminary assessment.

The settlement figures suggest many of the priests involved are multiple offenders. Advocates speak of some cases where several victims, sometimes siblings, were molested by the same priest. They claim settlements in excess of $100,000 dollars have been made in alleged paternity cases in the church and various religious orders.

The Commission has been criticized by victims' attorneys who accuse the archdiocese of damaging victims further by doing everything possible to escape full responsibility. They say an independent investigation or royal commission is the only way to uncover the extent of the abuse and to prevent it from happening again. Sunday Age, 11/21/99

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MELBOURNE, Victoria - The Catholic Church's Commission into Sexual Abuse has found that a nephew of one of the leading lay figures in the Australian Church was sexually abused by a priest.

Michael Santamaria, 37, nephew of Italian businessman and community leader B.A. Santamaria, claimed he was abused by Fr. Peter Waters as an altar boy in the 1970s. Waters denied it vehemently, but was quietly removed from his parish in Aug. Both men were among the guests at the elder Santamaria's elaborate state funeral last year, but Michael decided not to confront him there. Instead, mindful of the family name, he chose to make a formal complaint and endure the

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