23 Sep 2012

Church admits to more than 600 abuse cases

2:40 pm on 23 September 2012

The Catholic Church in an Australian state has revealed that at least 620 children have been abused by clergy since the 1930s.

It is the first time the church in Victoria has publicly released the figure.

In a submission to a Victorian Parliamentary inquiry, the church revealed the cases of criminal child abuse have been upheld by its own complaint procedure, the ABC reports.

It says the cases go back 80 years, but the vast majority relate to abuse in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, described the abuse committed by Catholic priests, religious and church workers as shocking and shameful.

Chrissy Foster's two daughters were abused by a priest in Melbourne and she says the church should be ashamed of its treatment of victims.

"It's only been victims coming out and going to the police that has stopped all of this.

"The church has never lifted a finger to stop their paedophile priests, to remove them ... they have just moved them on to new children and there are new victims."

Campaigners say the true number of abuse victims could be up to 10,000.