The Catholic Church in Australia has much work to do to regain the public's trust and it will need more than just words, a church spokesman says.
Responding to the report on Thursday, Mr Sullivan said the severity of it didn't surprise him.
"It's going to have to be more than words - it's actions that will begin to rebuild the trust that's eroded," Mr Sullivan told the ABC on Thursday.
"It's obvious ... the community has lost the trust in the way the church has handled this and as we've said, certainly for Australia but for anywhere, the days of the church investigating itself are over."
He said it was a "no brainer" to create and independent authority to investigate calls for transparency about which priests have been involved in sex abuse.
But Nicky Davis from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests denied that the church in Australia had been proactive in its approach to investigate abuse.
"That's hilarious that Francis said that, and they've been dragged kicking and screaming towards any sort of improvement," she told the ABC.
"They've got a long way to go."
She said the Vatican will "fight to the death" on issues around contraception and abortion, and it faces losing a lot of supporters and government subsidies if it continues to hold its stances.