THE Catholic Church covers up the crimes of paedophile priests, silences victims and hinders police investigations, one of the Hunter's most experienced detectives alleges in a letter to Premier Barry O'Farrell in the Newcastle Herald today.
To read Peter Fox's open letter to Mr O'Farrell, click here.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox has accused the church of alerting offenders, destroying evidence and moving priests to protect its "good name", based on his experiences over 35 years.
His comments mirrored Victoria Police submissions about the Catholic church to a parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse last month.
"Many police are frustrated by this sinister behaviour, which will continue until someone stops it," Chief Inspector Fox said in his first public statement after an extraordinary speech at a Newcastle rally in September in support of a royal commission on child sexual abuse.
He received a standing ovation after saying that Premier O'Farrell was wrong to say the NSW Police Force "had it all under control".
Chief Inspector Fox said teachers, victims and families had been silenced, intimidated and ostracised.
In an interview yesterday he said the church had escaped public scrutiny, and he repeated a call for the NSW Ombudsman to release a 2004 report into the church's handling of child sex allegations. This followed allegations against Maitland-Newcastle paedophile priest Jim Fletcher.
Chief Inspector Fox said it was bizarre and wrong that the church received the report but not the child sex victim's mother, whose complaint to the Ombudsman launched the investigation.
The mother complained in 2003 after former Bishop Michael Malone refused a police request to stand Fletcher down after allegations were raised. Fletcher was later convicted and jailed.
Chief Inspector Fox warned Bishop Malone he could be charged with a criminal offence after the bishop alerted Fletcher that police were investigating child sex allegations against him.
Chief Inspector Fox confirmed he argued strongly with the Ombudsman's office for the report.
In an interview with the Herald in 2008 Bishop Malone said "I stuffed up" over his handling of the Fletcher case.
Chief Inspector Fox called on Premier O'Farrell to hold a royal commission because police prosecutions alone would not address problems in the church.
His decision to speak at the Shine the Light rally in Newcastle in September, after the suicide of John Pirona, a victim of a notorious paedophile priest, was a spur-of-the-moment one.
"I listened to Peter Fitzsimons say that line about evil flourishing when good men do nothing and I thought, 'Here I am sitting here, knowing all this and saying nothing'.
"I asked myself, 'Am I one of those people allowing this to continue to flourish because I'm not saying anything?' That's why I spoke."
A spokeswoman for the Ombudsman's office said the Ombudsman initiated the investigation, and reported its strong concerns about the church's reporting systems in the 2003-04 annual report without identifying people involved.