THE Catholic Church has not reported any cases of clergy sexual abuse to Victoria Police, deputy commissioner Graham Ashton said today.
Giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry in Melbourne this morning, Mr Ashton said an extensive search of internal records from decades of sexual abuse investigations failed to find a single case where abuse by priests or religious brothers had been referred to police by church authorities.
Mr Ashton was scathing of the Church's internal processes for dealing with abuse complaints, protocols known as Towards Healing and the Melbourne Response.
"If a stranger were to enter the grounds of a church and rape a child, then that rape would be immediately reported to the police and action expected," he said.
"But if that stranger happened to be a member of the clergy, such as a priest, the matter would not be, under the current system, reported."
Mr Ashton's evidence came on the first day of public hearings for the inquiry, along with testimony from senior public servants and academics.
The Catholic Church in Victoria used a written submission to the inquiry to say more than 600 cases of sexual abuse by clergy had been upheld in recent decades.
Department of Justice acting secretary Claire Noone outlined existing controls under sex offender laws and Working with Children protocols.
Victims, advocates and lawmakers joined journalists in the packed hearing room this morning, with evidence continuing this afternoon.
The Family and Community Development committee will report its findings to parliament by April 30.