Sydney: Late Pope John Paul II was aware of priests sexually abusing children, and of efforts by the Catholic Church to cover up the allegations, an American canon lawyer claimed on Tuesday.
Thomas Doyle, an expert on cases of sexual abuse by the clergy, said this while testifying at a hearing here in Australia, Efe news reported.
Doyle is deposing before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in public and religious institutions.
He also said that in 1985 at least four US dioceses sent reports to the Vatican on child sexual abuse by priests.
One of these reports were prepared by Doyle himself, who requested a bishop be sent down to Luisiana to deal with cases of paedophilia.
The report was sent by courier to the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal John Krol, who took it to the Vatican the next day, said Doyle.
He added Krol handed the report to the Pope, who read the document and named a bishop for the purpose - AJ Quinn - within three days.
However, Quinn, he said: "turned out to be part of the problem, not part of the solution, because he was trying to figure how to continue with the cover-up."
Doyle's claims came a day after a detailed report by the Australian Catholic Church that revealed around 4,500 people reported cases of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy between 1980 and 2015.
Presented by Gail Furness, the counsel assisting the commission, the report said between 1950 and 2010, 1,880 alleged perpetrators were identified -- 572 priests, 597 religious brothers, and 96 religious sisters and others.
Speaking in Parliament following the revelations, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it "a national shame".
"This type of abuse, this abuse, in any context, can never happen again. This is a reminder to all of us..., in every part of the nation to protect the vulnerable..., the children in our care in whatever context," he remarked.
Meanwhile, the commission's hearings will continue till February 27 and will record statements by all seven archbishops from Australia.
The commission was set up in 2012 to investigate how authorities responded to cases of child sexual abuse in public, social, sport and religious institutions across the country.
In 2016, it published a report with 99 recommendations on how to deal with and take care of the victims, including a compensation plan.
The report had prompted the Australian government to announce compensation of upto $114,850 for the victims.