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Silencing by Bishops 'unanimously banned'

The failure of bishops to adhere to the Catholic church's revised sex-abuse protocol is both inexplicable and inexcusable, says one Sydney bishop.

Parramatta Diocese Bishop Kevin Manning said that all bishops must have been aware of the new clause - which specifically bans any requirement of silence by victims of sex abuse - when it was added to the national "Towards Healing" protocol in December 2000.

"They all discussed that particular clause at the [Australian Catholic Bishops] Conference, and voted for it unanimously," he said. "There was a lot on the agenda, some may have overlooked it or misunderstood it. But that is no excuse."

The bishop accused of signing off on a Deed of Release preventing one victim discussing her case publicly, yesterday denied his diocese was imposing secrecy provisions on compensation contracts.

In a written statement issued to the Northern Star, the Bishop of Lismore, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, said the non-disclosure clause in this case had been "inadvertently" retained and would not be enforced. "There was never any intention to silence the person," he said.


12 Jun 2002