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Church backs Australia sex inquiry

The archbishop of Sydney Australia, Cardinal George Pell, announced his support for a national inquiry into sexual abuse cases. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CARDINAL GEORGE PELL SAYING: "we acknowledge, with shame, the extent of the problem and I want to assure you that we have been serious in attempting to eradicate it and deal with it." Pell warned priests against hearing confessions of suspected abusers. (SOUNDBITE)(English) CARDINAL GEORGE PELL SAYING: "If the priest knows beforehand about such a situation, the priest should refuse to hear the confession, that would be my advice. I would never hear the confession of a priest who was suspected of such a thing." Prime Minister Julia Gillard annoucned Monday a Royal Commission into how institutions like churches and government bodies have dealth with child sex abuse claims. The inquiry follows reports that the Catholic church covered up sex abuse allegations and investigations over several decades in Victoria and New South Wales states. The Catholic church is Australia's largest, with 5.4 million followers, representing about one in four Australians. Pope Benedict XVI apologized publicly for sexual abuse cases in the Catholic church in Australia during a visit there in 2008.

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