Cardinal George Pell has told an inquiry that insurance for priests might be “a useful development”.
Dr Pell has also told the royal commission into child sexual abuse that the Catholic church could set up a corporate structure that would allow church officials to be sued for offences.
He proposed the establishment of a “corporation sole” to appoint and supervise church employees and agreed with a suggestion from Commission chair, Justice Peter McClellan, that priests should take out insurance, in the same way that other professions are required to do.
“I think that might be a very useful development,” Dr Pell said.
Dr Pell said the church had the same rights as an Australian citizen and should be treated like a citizen or community in any legal proceedings.
“We have every right to defend ourselves in law. I do not accept that the church should somehow be penalised differently from other Australian citizens in the way it defends itself.”
Justice McClellan asked whether the structure of the church created an opportunity for abuse by a priest to occur but Dr Pell said it was a similar situation to a child at a rugby league club or Scouts.