The Catholic Church in Victoria says complaints about child sexual and physical abuse are continuing to pour in.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has released new information that shows 95 complaints from victims of child sexual and physical abuse were received in the last financial year.
Fifty-three of the complaints are being dealt with by the church’s internal response programs, Towards Healing and the Melbourne Response.
The church says 28 of those complaints have been upheld so far.
Seven of the unresolved complaints have been taken to the police.
The church says another 42 complaints from child victims were made directly to representatives of the church after the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse.
Fifteen of those 42 complaints have been upheld so far.
The Catholic Church says the abuse occurred between the 1940 and 1990s.
Church spokesman Father Shane Mackinlay says a priest was removed from his parish after one victim came forward.
“That person has been… withdrawn from the parish he was in. His faculties have been removed and the police are involved,” he said.
Father Mackinlay says public forums such as the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse have encouraged victims to come forward.
“I think one of the things about that is that it is really good to see that victims have got the courage to come forward and that is clearly one of the benefits that the inquiry and the Royal Commission has brought,” he said.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay says police will investigate the new abuse cases.
He says the church needs to pass on all evidence.
“If there is serious criminal offending occurring, particularly sex offending against children, we need to understand it, we need the opportunity to speak to these people, we need to understand the historical nature of it,” he said.
“This actually builds our capability to prevent things from happening again and protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Wayne Chamley of the support group Broken Rites is not surprised by the increase in cases.
He suspects the number may be much much higher.
“Across Australia there will be more complaints being delivered within individual dioceses,” he said.
“We are just hearing about one of the diocese, that being the Diocese of Melbourne.”