Father John Dobson
Father John Dobson Contributed

Fr John Dobson: Catholic Church soul searching overdue

LONG-SERVING former Caloundra parish priest Father John Dobson has praised the work of the royal commission for helping the Catholic church do some "long overdue" soul searching.

Fr Dobson, also the University of the Sunshine Coast Chancellor, said there had been a "long process" going on in the church which the royal commission was going to accelerate.

"The church is facing massive problems, sexual abuse is one of them," Fr Dobson said.

"The other one is governance.  The governance of the church is not able to handle the problem that happened.

"It is going to be very difficult."

His comments come as Cardinal George Pell testified via videolink from Rome that  convicted priest Gerald Risdale's long history of abuse was "a sad story and of not much interest to me".

His response drew gasps from the audience.

Fr Dobson declined to comment on Cardinal Pell's testimony, but said the inquest into the church was "long overdue".

"There is a process at work here, it can't be interfered with small opinions coming into play," he said,

"The royal commission is doing a great job and it is doing it in a professional way.

"It will provide the basis for the church to some soul searching."

But he said "nothing happens in a hurry".

"The church moves in longer times than anything else on earth," he said.

"I am very hopeful the royal commission will precipitate decent thinking of how the structure of the church is for a rapidly changing society.

He didn't believe declining church numbers were as a result of the shock revelations of abuse in the church.

"People are walking away from institutions across the board," he said.

"You only have to look at Rotary Clubs and Service Clubs and how they are struggling to get membership.

"This is even true for political parties."

The third day of Cardinal Pell's testimony occurred in Rome today and he told how church leaders deliberately kept him in the dark.

Survivors have said they are fed up of listening to his testimony and wanted to take their complaints to Pope Francis.