Australian authorities have begun an investigation not only into abuse in the Church and state-run institutions but also other private institutions such as the boy scouts and sports clubs.
The investigation has been sparked by the allegations of a senior police officer, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, who claims the Church covered up crimes of paedophile priests, silenced investigations, and destroyed evidence.
Among the priests who are alleged to have been protected is Irish cleric Denis McAlinden, who Mr Fox claims was transferred from parish to parish over a long period, allegedly to cover up his paedophilic activities.
Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has ordered an investigation into how the various bodies dealt with the thousands of child sex abuse claims.
Mr Justice Sean Ryan, who led the commission to inquire into child abuse here, also said the Australian investigation should focus on the institutional weaknesses that allowed abuses to continue because “we found it difficult to envisage a trial of every allegation somebody made”.
He told The Australian newspaper a “sampling” approach to studying patterns of abuse and how institutions responded to that abuse could speed up the inquiry though he conceded survivors were likely to push for individuals to face criminal prosecutions.