PETER Ingham, the Catholic bishop of Wollongong diocese that covers Campbelltown, has loudly welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a royal commission into child sex abuse in institutions — including the Catholic church.
In a statement that was read out at local Sunday Masses, Bishop Ingham said he would co-operate fully with the investigation and be open to its suggestions.
He apologised to sexual abuse victims and insisted they and their families "must receive respect, justice and compassion".
"The protection of children is of prime importance, not the protection of any organisation," he said.
His response was somewhat at odds with Cardinal George Pell, in Sydney, who angered many people last week when he said the Catholic church had been the victim of a media smear campaign.
But Cardinal Pell did say the royal commission would "clear the air".
Bishop Ingham told local parishes: "For me personally, and for those priests who strive to live their commitment with integrity, this is one of the saddest times of our priesthood."
Father Chris Riley, whose charity Youth Off The Streets runs a facility at Macquarie Fields, also said it was a step in the right direction.
"The commission will bring the suffering of our kids out into the open.
"It certainly won't make up for the trauma that has caused our children, but it will ensure that we can bring down those who continue to perpetrate and cover up the injustices."
Details: Any complaints of mistreatment or abuse that are not of a criminal nature can be reported to the church's helpline on 1300 369 977 or Sister Moya Hanlen, 4253 0900.
Crime Stoppers, 1800 333 000.