Australia

No 'magic answers' from Holy See on abuse

It will be up to the Holy See to act on many of the Australian child abuse royal commission's recommendations for the Catholic Church.

The Holy See does not have "magic answers" to an Australian child abuse royal commission's call for sweeping reforms to centuries-old church law, a Catholic archbishop says.

The government of the Roman Catholic Church has shown intense interest in what is happening in Australia, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge says.

"They recognise that some, much perhaps, of what's going on in Australia has real and important implications for the universal church," the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president said on Friday.

It will be up to Pope Francis and his advisers to act on many of the royal commission's far-reaching recommendations and its implications for centuries-old canon law.

Archbishop Coleridge believed the Vatican will act on some of the recommendations but others such as changing the universal discipline of mandatory clerical celibacy were less likely.

"There are certain others that the people in Rome in fact with whom I have met would say that there is a possibility of some kind of movement there," he said.

Archbishop Coleridge, who did not provide examples of recommendations the church was likely to act on, has held two meetings with officials in Rome.

He said the Holy See was very keen to help, but wanted Australian bishops and religious leaders to provide advice and background on the recommendations.

"In other words, they don't like us sitting back and expecting them to provide magic answers, but they are interested in a kind of dialogue between the bishops and the major superiors in this country and the people in Rome for the good of the church here and elsewhere."

The royal commission recommendations included asking the Holy See to end the use of the "pontifical secret" or confidentiality imposed during church investigations into child abuse allegations.

Archbishop Coleridge said the word secret gave a misleading impression.

"There is nothing about the kind of confidentiality that the pontifical secret talks about that would in any way impede mandatory reporting and so on, so I personally think a lot of the talk about the pontifical secret is misleading and a little bit of a red herring.

"As a bishop it doesn't impinge upon my action and hasn't impinged upon my action at all."

He hoped to get a response from Rome to the royal commission recommendations by mid-December.

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