Bad Apples, Bad Barrel: Exploring Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy in Australia
This paper considers constructions of institutional culture and power in the cover-up of child sexual abuse (CSA) by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church of Australia. The issue of cover-up has previously been considered in international inquiries as an institutional failing that has caused significant harm to victims of CSA by Catholic Clergy. Evidence given by select representatives of the Catholic Church in two government inquiries into institutional abuse carried out in Australia is considered here. This evidence suggests that, where cover-up has occurred, it has been reliant on the abuse of institutional power and resulted in direct emotional, psychological and spiritual harm to victims of abuse. Despite international recognition of cover-up as institutional abuse, evidence presented by Roman Catholic Representatives to the Victorian Inquiry denied there was an institutionalised cover-up. Responding to this evidence, this paper queries whether the primary foundation of cover-up conforms to the ‘bad apple theory’ in that it relates only to a few individuals, or the ‘bad barrel theory’ of institutional structure and culture.
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