Turnbull Government questioned over Vatican ties Questions: Senator Rachel Siewert with politicians including Nick Xenophon and Greg Hunt at Parliament House in Canberra.

Calls: Catholics for Renewal president Peter Johnstone.

Concerns: Greens Senator Scott Ludlum is one of a number of Federal Greens Senators asking questions about Australia’s relations with the Vatican.

Culture: Pope Francis. The Catholic Church has been criticised for having a culture that is difficult to change.

Empire: The Catholic Church still shows the cultural legacy of once ruling the world.

Communications: Pope Francis is celebrated as the People’s Pope, but the Vatican under his rule denied documents to Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Vatican: The Catholic Church has many millions of followers.

Abuse: The global child sexual abuse crisis has cast a dark cloud across the Catholic Church.

TweetFacebookThe Federal Government needed to openly discuss how thecommunity felt about senior Catholic churchmen in Australia having diplomatic immunity because Australia announced in 1973 that it had a diplomatic relationship with the Vatican, Ms Siewert said. The announcement was made by the then Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam.

“There’s been such a strong response to the royal commission. People have been horrified by what’s been exposed,” she said.

The community was not happy when Cardinal George Pell did not return to Australia to give evidence at the royal commission, after solemnly pledging to commission chair Justice Peter McClellan that he would, Ms Siewert said.

In 2011 the Vatican recalled its ambassador to Irelandafter the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, launched an unprecedented and blistering attack on the church in parliament, following release of adevastating report into child sexual abuse involving the church in Dublin.

The church claimed the move was in response to “excessive reactions” to the report.

A few months later the Irish government closed its Vatican embassy, saying it “yields no economic return”.

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