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Austin Cline

Australian Priest Describes Coverups of Child Sex Abuse

By November 30, 2012

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Kevin Lee is a former Roman Catholic priest in Australia and, according to him, it was common knowledge among his colleagues that the priesthood had a lot of pedophiles. It was also standard practice to cover up sex abuse cases, not just for the Roman Catholic hierarchy but for civil authorities as well.

Bad Priest
Bad Priest
Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice

It's not clear just how credible Kevin Lee is and how much he should be believed, but some people in Australia are taking him seriously and his accusations seem to be making some waves. I suppose that people's reactions will depend a lot on how much they trust or distrust the Catholic hierarchy.

Then again, some of what Kevin Lee is saying can be checked and verified, if they haven't been already. If those statements prove true, then the rest of what he is saying will probably deserve to be treated as more credible as well. That wouldn't be so good for either church or government authorities.

Mr Lee told Lateline on Friday that abuse is widely covered up in the church and that he first became aware of it as soon as he was in the seminary.

"People used to tell me and people in the first parish I was in started to confess their frustration with the authorities and the church for not dealing with the abuse that happened to their sons," he said.

"I became aware that some of the other priests were actually paedophiles and were not necessarily becoming priests because they wanted to help people, but because they were paedophiles who wanted the opportunity," he said.

Mr Lee says a church protocol was in place for dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, but it was not actually used. "I saw a system of cover-ups, a system of blind-eye turning and just ignorance of the fact that it was happening," he said.

He says he took his concerns to superiors within the church but was knocked back. "In my earlier years as a priest, I was having these people coming to me in confession or just sharing in counselling sessions their experience of frustration and anger with the church that had ignored their pleas of justice when their children had been abused and I started writing the notes down," he said.

According to Kevin Lee, both church and government authorities kept telling him that he didn't have enough solid evidence. No matter what or how much he brought to people, it was never enough. Eventually he just grew frustrated and appears to have given up.

It's hard to blame him for developing such an attitude -- it's hard to keep beating your head against a brick wall, now matter how good the cause. We all know now that people responsible for the protection of children didn't do their jobs and, instead, worked harder to protect pedophiles as well as the reputation of the Catholic Church.

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