Dealing with historical complaints which came forward in the early 1990s was often complex, challenging and difficult.
There was little in the way of regulation or established procedures and I think it is clear that we underestimated the complexities around offender behaviour and did not appreciate the full impact on victims of such unspeakable and damaging conduct and the difficulties that they encountered bringing their stories forward. The respect given to the wishes of the victims was, in some circumstances, overstated. We should continue to do more to make it easier for Victims to take complaints to the police.
I do accept that mistakes were made during this time but progress was achieved around 1996 with the establishment of better procedures and protocols and in particular, the intelligence reporting protocol as between the Catholic Church, Professional Standards Office and the NSW Police Child Protection Agency. This protocol achieved the necessary balance between confidential pastoral communication where necessary, the frequent desire on the part of the victim for confidentiality and the need for Police awareness at least at the intelligence level. The protocols lead to the routine reporting of complaints with identification of the alleged perpetrator but anonymity re victim identity.
Church leaders have expressed regret and apologies for the mistakes of the past and I endorse all that they have said.
Fr Brian Lucas