An iquiry into an alleged Catholic Church cover up in the Hunter has heard the community has a collective responsibility to protect victims.

The Special Commission of Inquiry is investigating claims made by whistleblower, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox about two paedophile priests in the Maitland/Newcastle diocese, both of whom are now deceased.

Commissioner Margaret Cunneen told Newcastle Supreme Court there needs to be an end to the conspiracy of silence around the crime and the need to protect victims who’ve come forward.