3 May 2011

Pope Benedict fires Australian bishop who suggested ordaining women and married men, bishops who protect pedophiles can stay

MSNBC - May 2, 2011

Pope fires bishop who backed ordaining women

Australian parish leader defends his actions, accuses pope of becoming more authoritarian

Associated Press

SYDNEY — An Australian bishop who was fired by Pope Benedict XVI after suggesting the church consider ordaining women and married men defended his actions on Tuesday and accused the Vatican of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Community members rallied around Bishop William Morris of the Toowoomba diocese, west of Brisbane, and eight priests signed a letter of support for the popular parish leader, calling his removal disrespectful.

The Vatican confirmed in a statement Monday that Morris had been "removed from pastoral care," an unusually strong move by Vatican standards. Generally, church leaders who are being ousted are asked to resign, with the Vatican later announcing the pope has accepted their resignations.

Morris said he was removed because of a letter he wrote to his parish in 2006 in which he suggested that the church could help solve the problem of priest shortages by considering ordaining women and married men.

Benedict, as did his just-beatified predecessor, John Paul II, has staunchly upheld Vatican teaching that only celibate men can be ordained in the Roman Catholic church, although married men in the Latin rite church loyal to the pontiff can become priests.

'Local bishops have been sidelined' 

On Tuesday, Morris said he hadn't meant to advocate the idea that women and married men should be priests, but simply wanted the church to keep an open mind on the matter. In an open letter to his parish this weekend, Morris said a handful of people unhappy with his leadership used his 2006 comments as a basis for complaint to the Vatican, which then launched an investigation.

Although not angry over his removal, Morris said he was "sad" the Vatican had not given him or his parishioners a voice in the matter.

"There's a creeping centralism in the church at the moment that everything is going to centralization and there's a creeping authoritarianism," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. "I think in many ways local bishops have been sidelined."

Eight priests from the Toowoomba diocese issued a statement of support for Morris, calling his leadership "constructive, informed and life-giving." Catholics in the Toowoomba area planned to hold a candelight vigil in his honor later Tuesday.

"In our view, Bishop Morris has not been treated fairly or respectfully," the priests' statement said. "We find his removal profoundly disheartening."

The auxiliary bishop of Brisbane, Brian Finnigan, was asked to oversee the Toowoomba diocese while a permanent replacement is found for Morris, who had been Toowoomba's bishop since 1993.

Finnigan also issued a statement praising Morris' service, particularly his handling of a sexual abuse case in which students at a Toowoomba Catholic school were assaulted by a teacher. Morris quickly accepted legal liability for the abuse, sparing the victims a court trial. [see related article below]

"The good work that Bishop Morris has done to address the needs of the victims will continue into the future," Finnigan said.

This article was found at:


Pope's 2010 Christmas message reveals broken moral compass, again fails to adequately address clergy abuse and cover-up

New rules on clergy sex abuse shows there is still no moral awakening in the Catholic church

If the Pope is infallibly moral why did he enable and cover-up the systematic rape of children across the globe?

Hundreds of admitted or credibly accused pedophile priests who escaped justice are unsupervised by church or police

Inquiry finds US Catholic hierarchy still endangering children and fighting justice for clergy abuse survivors

Washington archbishop claims Catholic clergy abuse is all historic, abusive priests now dealt with appropriately, but church still fights victims

Former Benedictine monk says church has not yet addressed child abuse crisis, most bishops still mired in obfuscation and deceit 

Of course popes, cardinals and bishops covered up crimes against children, but can the Church be reformed while leaders are in denial?

Australian bishop makes rare admission of church's legal liability for rape of school girls

Australian families sue Catholic diocese for failing to report teacher sex abuse allegations to police

How can Pope John Paul II be a saint when thousands of children were raped or molested by priests under his leadership?


  1. For Priests’ Wives, a Word of Caution

    By SARA RITCHEY New York Times Op-ED January 12, 2012

    WHAT will life be like for the wives of Roman Catholic priests?

    On Sunday, the Vatican announced the creation of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, a special division of the Roman Catholic Church that former Episcopal congregations and priests — including, notably, married priests — can enter together en masse. The Vatican has stressed that the allowance for married priests is merely an exception (like similar dispensations made in the past by the Vatican) and by no means a permanent condition of the priesthood. If a priest is single when he enters the ordinariate, he may not marry, nor may a married priest, in the event of his wife’s death, remarry.

    Nonetheless, the Roman Catholic Church is prepared to house married priests in numbers perhaps not seen since the years before 1123, when the First Lateran Council adopted canon 21, prohibiting clerical marriage.

    Now as then, the church’s critics and defenders are rehashing arguments about the implications of having married priests in an institution that is otherwise wary of them. But in the midst of these debates, we should pause to ponder the environment that the priests’ wives might expect to encounter. After all, the status of the priest’s wife is perhaps even more strange and unsettling than that of her ordained Catholic husband.

    While the early Christian church praised priestly chastity, it did not promulgate decisive legislation mandating priestly celibacy until the reform movement of the 11th century. At that point, the foremost purpose of priestly celibacy was to clearly distinguish and separate the priests from the laity, to elevate the status of the clergy. In this scheme, the mere presence of the priest’s wife confounded that goal, and thus she incurred the suspicion, and quite often the loathing, of parishioners and church reformers. You can’t help wondering what feelings she will inspire today.

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    By the time of the First Lateran Council, the priest’s wife had become a symbol of wantonness and defilement. The reason was that during this period the nature of the host consecrated at Mass received greater theological scrutiny. Medieval theologians were in the process of determining that bread and wine, at the moment of consecration in the hands of an ordained priest at the altar, truly became the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest who handled the body and blood of Christ should therefore be uncontaminated lest he defile the sacred corpus.

    The priest’s wife was an obvious danger. Her wanton desire, suggested the 11th-century monk Peter Damian, threatened the efficacy of consecration. He chastised priests’ wives as “furious vipers who out of ardor of impatient lust decapitate Christ, the head of clerics,” with their lovers. According to the historian Dyan Elliott, priests’ wives were perceived as raping the altar, a perpetration not only of the priest but also of the whole Christian community.

    The priest’s nuclear family was also seen as a risk to the stability of the church. His children represented a threat to laypersons, who feared that their endowments might be absorbed into the hands of the priest’s offspring to create a rival clerical dynasty. A celibate priest would thus ensure donations from the neighboring landed aristocracy. Furthermore, the priest’s wife was often accused, along with her children, of draining the church’s resources with her extravagance and frivolity. Pope Leo IX attempted to remedy this problem in the 11th century by decreeing that the wives and children of priests must serve in his residence at the Lateran Palace in Rome.

    Given this history, I caution the clerical wife to be on guard as she enters her role as a sacerdotal attaché. Her position is an anomalous one and, as the Vatican has repeatedly insisted, one that will not receive permanent welcome in the church. That said, for the time being, it will be prudent for the Vatican to honor the dignity of the wives and children of its freshly ordained married priests. And here, I suggest, a real conversation about the continuation of priestly celibacy might begin.

    Until then, priests’ wives should beware a religious tradition that views them, in the words of Damian, as “the clerics’ charmers, devil’s choice tidbits, expellers from paradise, virus of minds, sword of soul, wolfbane to drinkers, poison to companions, material of sinning, occasion of death ... the female chambers of the ancient enemy, of hoopoes, of screech owls, of night owls, of she-wolves, of blood suckers.”


  3. Church booklet on abuse more pain for past victims

    by Rachel Browne, Sun-Herald journalist Australia September 16, 2012

    THE archdiocese of Sydney has produced 100,000 booklets stating the Catholic Church's position on sexual abuse, which several victims said has added to their trauma.

    The 16-page booklet, titled Sexual Abuse, has been distributed to parishes, Catholic agencies and schools.

    About 38,000 booklets were given to children to take home from schools in the Sydney archdiocese.

    The director of Catholic communications, Katrina Lee, said the booklet was overseen by the archdiocese's Professional Standards Office and was released in response to claims made by the Greens NSW upper house MP David Shoebridge.

    ''There has been a lot of consistent misinformation about the issue, so we decided to pull all the information together in one booklet,'' she said.

    But Mr Shoebridge said the content of the booklet, which addresses how the Catholic Church deals with allegations of abuse, compounded the suffering of many victims, one of whom described it as ''a work of fiction''.

    One victim said her experience of the church's Towards Healing process, the national protocol that addresses complaints of sexual, emotional and physical abuse made against clergy, was completely different from the description in the booklet.

    ''Throughout the process, phone calls remained unanswered, I had to wait up to eight weeks to make an appointment, I was told 'at some point I need to start to take some of the responsibility' and further abhorrent, abusive things,'' she said. ''The investigation was held up for much time due to the priest being permitted to take overseas trips to play golf. The investigation went on for 2½ years until my health completely failed and I could no longer go on. This is not putting victims first.''

    Another victim took issue with the booklet's claim that victims are not silenced, saying: ''This is a blatant lie as I was made to sign a document which silenced me and every other victim I know has had to [do this] as well.''

    Mr Shoebridge described the booklet as a whitewash that did not offer genuine help to victims.

    ''The processes and structures described in that booklet are so at odds with the reality of how the church deals with victims of sexual abuse that it caused a wave of pain for many people when they read it,'' he said. ''What they are looking for is some honesty from the church and a modest degree of humility about how comprehensively they have failed so many children and families.''

    Mr Shoebridge will appear at a public forum to be held in Newcastle today about the need for a royal commission on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, William Wright, was invited to participate in the forum but declined to attend.


  4. Brothers pack raped boys

    by Rory Callinan, Sydney Morning Herald Australia November 9, 2012

    A GROUP of 15 religious brothers led by an "alpha paedophile" is suspected of the unreported deaths of two boys and the sexual abuse of more than 40 others.

    The victims – abused over three decades – include wards of the state cared for by the brothers in homes for the mentally impaired, a state parliamentary inquiry into child abuse is expected to be told. Seven are believed to have committed suicide.

    The suspected paedophile brothers from the Hospitaller Order of St John of God have never been charged in Victoria because of a lack of police resources, says the submission’s author, Dr Wayne Chamley, a researcher for Broken Rites, the support group for church sex abuse victims.

    While most of the suspected paedophiles are dead, Fairfax Media is aware of three who have left the Catholic order and moved away but are in roles where they could have access to children.

    The allegations relate to the order’s operations at Cheltenham and Lilydale, where it provided homes for wards of the state, orphans, boys given up by their parents and those with intellectual disabilities from the 1950s to the 1980s.

    The order paid out more than $3.6 million in 2002 to 24 men who had alleged they were abused as children by brothers from the order.

    Victorian police at the time confirmed they had launched an investigation into the allegations and taken statements from a number of alleged victims, and that the Director of Public Prosecutions was to decide on any charges to be laid.

    But Dr Chamley and victims have confirmed to Fairfax that none of the 15 suspected paedophile brothers has ever been charged in Victoria.

    Dr Chamley will give details of alleged horrific abuse at the order’s homes, including claims that boys were subjected to pack rapes and beatings and being drugged.

    He will allege that two boys were sent to a mental institution by the "alpha paedophile" brother and given electroshock therapy, which impaired one so badly he was unable to care for himself and later died.

    Dr Chamley will also mention research indicating that seven of a group of 69 boys who went to the order’s homes had committed suicide.

    His most serious allegation will be that two boys might have been killed – and their deaths not reported – at the order’s farm at Lilydale.

    Speaking on Thursday, Dr Chamley said there were witnesses to the alleged suspicious deaths, which occurred in the early 1960s. He said three men who spent time at the Lilydale home had independently told him of an incident in which a boy was thrown down stairs.

    "That boy was taken off to the infirmary [unconscious] and never seen again," said Dr Chamley.

    He said the three witnesses were still alive and could be contacted by police.

    He said the second alleged death was reported by a former resident of one of the homes who said he had found a boy dead in the bed next to him.

    ‘‘He spoke about waking up and finding this fellow beside him dead. This fellow had recently arrived in the place,’’ said Dr Chamley. He said the witness to this incident was still alive and had been severely traumatised by his stay in the home.

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    Dr Chamley said the main victims of the brothers at Cheltenham were boys who never received any visitors and were quartered in upstairs dormitories away from the boys who did receive visits.

    ''They speak of being given a red medicine that made them drowsy. Pack rapes took place and boys who resisted or attempted to fight off their attackers were beaten mercilessly. These were boys of seven to 15 years up against adult males,'' he said.

    Dr Chamley said the alleged paedophiles would become hyperactive after taking the boys to football matches.

    ''At the football matches the boys were provided with beer and encouraged to drink with the accompanying brothers,'' he said.

    ''After these occasions the paedophiles would become hyperactive and overt. The evening meal was followed by buggery and pack rapes and the remainder of Saturday night spent by many boys crying and in fear. And then Mass on Sunday morning.''

    Dr Chamley will give his submission - which has been posted online - to the inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations on Friday. He is a retired endocrinologist who works as a volunteer for Broken Rites, for which he conducted research on the St John of God order and assisted in negotiating settlements for abuse victims.

    The order's spokesman said the Australian provincial, Brother Timothy Graham, was in Portugal and was unable to be contacted for comment. He said the order would appear at the parliamentary inquiry if requested.

    The spokesman said the order had first become aware in 1997 that there had been sexual abuse at its facilities in Victoria.

    ''The order was proactive and immediately opened internal and police inquiries. This culminated in a multimillion-dollar mediated settlement which was ratified by the Supreme Court of Victoria in June 2002, at which time Victoria Police also referred the matters to the DPP,'' he said.

    Several St John of God brothers have served prison time in New Zealand for assaults on boys in homes there.

    Victoria Police on Thursday declined to explain why no one was charged over the allegations. A spokeswoman said police had made a submission to the inquiry and ''any further comment at this stage may prejudice those proceedings''.

    "Victoria Police will await the findings and recommendations of the inquiry before making any further comment,'' she said.


  6. Church to release internal files on sex abuse

    By Simon Lauder, ABC News staff Australia November 9, 2012

    The Catholic Church will release internal files on child sexual abuse within the clergy after a request from the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse.

    Victims' advocates have been pressuring the inquiry to use its powers to obtain the church's own files, arguing they are crucial to finding out what church leaders knew about widespread abuse by priests and brothers.

    On Friday, the committee revealed it had asked the church to hand over those documents.

    Church spokesman Father Shane Mackinlay says it will cooperate with the inquiry.

    "We have no reason to withhold any of those sort of files," he said.

    "They've asked for access to files and to the extent that that's something they want to see, we have no concern about that."

    Earlier, the inquiry heard shocking claims that decades ago, two boys had died at the hands of paedophiles at orphanages run by a Catholic order in Melbourne.

    Dr Wayne Chamley, a researcher with the child protection group Broken Rites, made the startling allegations against the Hospitaller Order of St John of God, which ran orphanages in Melbourne's outer east from the 1960s to the 1980s.

    Dr Chamley said there was a group of religious brothers who abused boys under the leadership of what he called an "alpha paedophile".

    "This crowd, they would stop at nothing to get access to children and to do anything to cover it up," he said.

    Dr Chamley alleges the crimes that took place at those orphanages go beyond sexual abuse. He believes two boys died while in the care of the order.

    "Three residents independently told me about this boy who was attacked by a pack of four and eventually thrown down a staircase and was taken to the infirmary and was never seen again," he said.

    "Now what happened, we will never know, but if you had children who had no family, the family wouldn't even know that the person was deceased."

    He also told of boys being locked up in institutions because they tried to escape.

    In a written statement, St John of God said it became aware there had been sexual abuse in its Victorian facilities in 1997.

    It said the order investigated and reported the abuse to police and ultimately there was a multi-million-dollar mediated settlement.

    Patrick Tidmarsh is a forensic interview adviser with Victoria Police with decades of experience interviewing child abuse victims and perpetrators.

    On Friday, he told the inquiry clergy he had dealt with were not brought to justice.

    "I wracked my brains," he said.

    "I could not think of a single case where they were not known, had not been moved, had re-offended and in most cases several times after that moved again and re-offended, moved again and re-offended."

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    Mr Tidmarsh said one of the most important requirements for investigators was to have an open mind.

    And he said the church did not have the independence, the expertise nor the motivation to investigate properly.

    "I don't think they should be investigating themselves," he said.

    "I think that is absolutely the number one issue. I find it extraordinary that an organisation has set up a separate system, particularly one where if you volunteer for that system you give up your rights to any other system."

    Wrapping up his evidence on Friday afternoon, Dr Chamley told the inquiry most offenders go on to lead very comfortable lives with the support and protection of the church.

    "Compare it with say many of the victims that we see; 60 per cent of them I believe have got post-traumatic stress disorder," he said.

    "I'd say 90 per cent have entrenched psychiatric illness."

    Dr Chamley said many of the victims were worried about what would happen to them in their dotage.

    "The memory that lasts is your childhood memory; what a memory to be stalking them for the remaining 10 or 15 years of their life," he said.

    "Maybe they'll go into an aged care home re-institutionalised again. This is what they all talk to me about; the fear of what is going to happen to them.

    "The Catholic Church just doesn't seem to have any idea what these people are facing and I just can't understand it."


  8. Windsor calls for royal commission into church abuse

    World News Australia AAP November 2012

    ndependent MP Tony Windsor is calling for a royal commission into child sex abuse in the Catholic church.

    Independent MP Tony Windsor is calling for a royal commission into child sex abuse in the Catholic church.

    Mr Windsor joined the call following New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell's announcement of a special commission of inquiry to look into allegations by a detective that its investigations were hindered by interference by the Catholic church.

    The minister told the ABC, the fact that a respected police officer raised the issue, shows a royal commission is needed.

    "If it's a controlled political inquiry, well you just get the same old answer, and no one does anything," he said.

    Mr Windsor says he will discuss the issue with the Prime Minister.

    Independent senator Nick Xenophon says allegations of child sex abuse and systemic covers-up inside the Catholic Church warrant a national royal commission.

    Senator Xenophon says the days when we can allow the Catholic Church to be its own investigator are well and truly over.

    A senior police detective in New South Wales who claims evidence of paedophilia has been destroyed by Catholic priests has called for a royal commission.

    As well, a former NSW priest and police chaplain has said abuse is widely covered up in the church.

    Meanwhile, Australia's most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, is reportedly deeply ashamed at child sex abuse perpetrated by members of the church but doesn't believe a royal commission is warranted.

    The Archbishop of Sydney accepts that children were abused by priests and that the crimes were covered up by other clergy but believes the Catholic church is no worse than other organisations, News Limited reports.

    "It wasn't just the Catholic church that hoped (an abusive priest) would amend their conduct and give them a home elsewhere," he told the Weekend Australian.

    "Back in those days, they were entitled to think of pedophilia as simply a sin that you would repent of. They didn't realise that in the worst cases it was an addiction, a raging addiction."

    The church had rid itself of "a great deal of moral cancer" after abuse claims came to light, he said.

    His comments came as NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced a special commission to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic church clergy in the Hunter region.

    The commission will be run by prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, SC, and will examine allegations made by a senior serving police officer of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests in the Newcastle area.

    It will also look into alleged cover-ups by members of the church and the police force.

    The special commission has been criticised as too limited by NSW opposition parties and by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, the police officer whose public calls for a royal commission prompted the inquiry.

    A separate parliamentary inquiry into clergy child abuse allegations is under way in Victoria.


  9. Studio interview with Senior NSW Detective Peter Fox

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    Broadcast: November 8, 2012
    Reporter: Tony Jones

    TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox joined me in the studio just a short time ago.

    Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, thanks for joining us.

    PETER FOX, NSW POLICE: It's a pleasure, Tony.

    TONY JONES: Let's start with how you got so frustrated and angry that you were publicly challenging the NSW Premier. Now your letter to Premier O'Farrell begins like this: "I've investigated so many sexual assaults in 30 years of policing that I've lost count. I've seen the worst society can dredge up, particularly the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church." What is the worst of it?

    PETER FOX: Oh, Tony, I think most people would be absolutely crumpled up in tears to hear it. Just some examples of what I've sat and listened to is that one young boy at the hands of paedophile priest James Fletcher, he was 12 years of age when the priest drove to a secluded park outside of Maitland. He told the boy to remove his pants and the boy was totally unaware of what was going on and quite embarrassed, but that particular priest anally penetrated him.

    The boy wasn't aware at that stage that his anus had been torn and he started bleeding. He was screaming in agony on the seat and his knuckles were turning white. And as the priest continued to thrust while he screamed, he said he focused on the St Christopher's Cross on the dashboard and watched it swaying back and forward to try and take his focus off the pain.

    The priest never relented at any stage during that, and even after the act was completed, he was totally uncaring for the child and simply sat back in the driver's seat and had a cigarette while he finished sobbing.

    TONY JONES: Some of these stories, in fact some of statements that you've taken from witnesses, victims, so upset a DPP solicitor that she simply couldn't go on with the case. Is that one of these?

    PETER FOX: That was one of those cases. And, again, that was a solicitor that had dealt with many cases of sexual abuse. But the details and the graphic images that were conveyed in those statements so upset her. And she was well-known to me. She rang me up and apologised profusely, but said, "I just cannot stay with this case. I just can't handle it."

    TONY JONES: You wouldn't be surprised about that, would you, because in fact most people don't want to hear these things, they're too awful for them to even comprehend.

    PETER FOX: Well as I said in my letter to the Premier today, we do block a lot of those images away and we just accept the word paedophile or molestation. But when you actually sit down with those victims and you're looking into their eyes, police are not immune from it. And I sat there with so many of those victims and you can't but help feel their pain. The agony is still there and it will always be there to some degree.

    And to just be so cold, even though I'm in a professional role, not to have some empathy for what that individual has gone through as a child just wouldn't be human.

    TONY JONES: Some of them you saw in mental institutions, some committed suicide. You spoke to their relatives. All were terribly, terribly damaged.

    PETER FOX: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, one young boy, I actually had my wife drop me off in Maitland and I went to the psychiatric ward of Maitland Hospital and I sat with that young fellow for a number of hours just reassuring him that he didn't have to go on with the matter if he wasn't up to it. We broke for a number of months before he was ready to come back.

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  10. These aren't easy things and there's got to be a lot of compassion and a lot of understanding from police. Sometimes these people aren't up to going through to taking it to court and we've got to sometimes take that hard pill and sit back and say, "OK, it's frustrating that we won't get this guy, but we can't put them through that ordeal."

    The degree of courage those that do come back and say, "Listen, I want to finish that statement. I want to see him taken to court." How we can sit back and say they do not deserve our fullest support, because, my God, they've got some courage to be able to stand up and do what they've got to do and say what they've got to say in court and relive that ordeal.

    Whether you're the Premier of NSW or you're just somebody sitting back watching this on TV tonight, it's got to move you. It can't but move you. It's terrible.

    TONY JONES: As we've heard, the scale of this abuse in Newcastle-Maitland Diocese over many years is truly shocking. It's astonishing in fact. 400 victims, 14 clergy charged (inaudible), six Catholic teachers convicted, three priests currently on trial. How does this much evil get concentrated in one small area?

    PETER FOX: I don't think it takes a detective chief inspector to work that out, Tony. Alarm bells were ringing there for me many, many years ago, so much so that I actually detailed a number of reports to hierarchy within the Police Department to launch fuller investigations.

    It was quite evident that something was going on. These priests were operating in adjoining parishes abusing children, they were meeting at meetings together. In many cases that I came across, one priest who had previously faced paedophile charges was donating parish money to the legal support of another priest to defend him against those charges.

    I had other priests that hadn't been charged with anything removing evidence and destroying it before we were able to secure it. And we just went around in circles.

    TONY JONES: This is actually - this is - as horrific as the litany of sexual crimes against children are, to me one of the most disturbing lines in your letter was along these lines: "I can testify from my own experience the Church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the Church." You're saying you have evidence of all of this?

    PETER FOX: Oh, not only do I have evidence, it's irrefutable. Most of that is fact that's been admitted by many of them. We encounter it all the time. For people to sit back and say it's not going on, they've got their head in the sand. The greatest frustration is that there is so much power and organisation behind the scenes that police don't have the powers to be able to go in and seize documents and have them disclose things to us.

    TONY JONES: If things were covered up, if there was serious cover-up, how high up the chain did it go to your sure knowledge?

    PETER FOX: I have definite information that - of some covering up certainly to a number of diocese bishops. It potentially goes even higher than that.

    TONY JONES: Higher than that? You mean into the top levels of the Church hierarchy, is that what you're saying?

    PETER FOX: That's correct. I've got no doubt. You know, to sit back and sort of say, "Listen, each of these diocese are self-autonomous and there's no-one above that knows what goes on at those lower levels," we live in a real world and it would be as if, you know, I'm doing something in the police force at Raymond Terrace and I'm not accountable to somebody else at a higher level at Newcastle or in Sydney.

    That's how the chain-of-command in any organisation works. To turn around and say, "No, we work something different. We didn't know about that," I think most of the public are smart enough to be able to put two and two together there.

  11. TONY JONES: Proving it of course is the other thing, the critical thing and it's what you - I guess in a way it's what you've been searching for all this time. In 2010, two years ago, new witnesses started to come forward to give evidence about the activities of one paedophile priest called Father McAlinden. Now one of those witnesses I would describe as a key Church insider, a whistleblower. You took a statement from this person. How significant was that statement?

    PETER FOX: When I was directed to hand that statement over, I described her statement - and I'd never used the term about a statement in my entire career before that - but I described that statement as explosive and I still describe it as explosive.

    What is disclosed in that is monumental. I've spent a couple of months getting that statement, typing it down in very careful detail and spending an enormous amount of time with that particular witness who was, like many victims - and I should add, Tony, that she wasn't simply a witness; she'd also herself been a victim at a much earlier time of McAlinden.

    So when she came forward and was able to give all that information, it just opened a can of worms. I was able to go to another number of witnesses who began corroborating various aspects and saying, "Yes, that is exactly what happened." So, the credibility towards that witness was certainly being elevated.

    TONY JONES: So, what did that witness actually bring to the table, being an insider in the Church, what was she able to say about what was happening in terms of the cover-up?

    PETER FOX: Tony, I understand that Strike Force Lantle has already sent some briefs off to the DPP for consideration. I don't want to say anything that may prejudice anything that's going on there.

    But I think it's already been reported in the papers that some of the police that are attached to that have already indicated that there is an archbishop and at least two other priests that are implicated - or sorry, an archbishop, a bishop and a priest that are implicated in potential cover-up.

    Now the DPP, I understand, has been sent those briefs and they're considering it now.

    TONY JONES: One of the most disturbing things that you said earlier was that you were directed to give this material up. As I understand it, you were also ordered to stand down from the case, to no longer investigate this case. Is that a correct way of putting it?

    PETER FOX: That's absolutely correct. That's spot on.

    TONY JONES: And the reason given to you for being taken off this case which you'd obviously worked on for, well, as long as you could remember, I'd imagine?

    PETER FOX: Well I worked on it since I started investigating Denis McAlinden in 1999. I had contact with various witnesses over the years. I actually even interviewed Bishop Leo Clarke, who in 2003 told me when I asked if he had knowledge of any other victims other than the one that I already, and very clearly said to me no.

    I later seen documentation, after he passed away, that clearly indicated that he had full knowledge of other victims.

    Boiling it down to just simple words, he lied. I was standing there with a colleague and he just straight-out lied to me about his knowledge of other victims. Hence the reason I say that some in the Church have no reservation about lying when it comes to it to conceal the fact that they had knowledge of these crimes.

    TONY JONES: But let's just go through this because if I understand this correctly, you are the person - the investigator who knows the most about this case, you are the person who has interviewed the whistleblower, the key witness, you've got the statement in front of you that you think is dynamite and you are told by a superior to stand down from the case and give over your material. Is that how it happened?

    PETER FOX: Yes. That's it in a nutshell.

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  12. TONY JONES: And are you able to tell us who that superior was?

    PETER FOX: It's a very senior officer within the NSW Police and I was quite dismayed at it. That particular witness was quite distraught when I told her that I'd been told to hand the whole matter over.

    TONY JONES: Because you had a personal relationship.

    PETER FOX: A personal professional relationship.

    TONY JONES: Of trust, a relationship of trust.

    PETER FOX: Well originally she actually came forward to a newspaper reporter, Joanne McCarthy, and after many months she finally convinced this witness to come forward and speak to police. She actually said - refused and then she said, "The only police officer I will speak to is Peter Fox."

    I didn't know her and it was explained that she had spoken to a number of other families who had dealt with me in the past and she said she would feel comfortable dealing with me. Now, on that basis of course I'm not going to turn her away, of course I'm going to say, "Yes, come in and sit down and we'll get the statement." I have my own thoughts on it. A lot of other people may have their thoughts.

    TONY JONES: About why you were taken off the case.

    PETER FOX: I was just - I was very, very disappointed. I'm not being critical of any of the investigators that are working on Strike Force Lantle. They were handed the matter. But as to the reasons why that was done when I pursued the matter for over a decade, I don't know.

    TONY JONES: Do you believe it was because you're too independent of mind, that you couldn't be controlled?

    PETER FOX: Tony, I don't think I'd be lying if I said that a lot in the police force would consider me rather outspoken. I'm sure that some hierarchy in the police force won't be wanting to put me on their Christmas card list after the letter today and after speaking here tonight. I don't care.

    At the end of the day, I don't know whether I'll face disciplinary charges or anything in relation to the stance I've taken. And again, I don't care. What I do care about is that there are so many victims out there. I can't divorce myself - even though I'm a detective, I can't say that I'm not human and I haven't heard their pain.

    There's something very wrong when you have so many paedophile priests operating in such a small area for such an extended period of time with immunity. And my - I submitted report after report suggesting that we needed to do a lot more about investigating this. Why that didn't happen, I've never received a response.

    TONY JONES: Let me just go - there has been some response from - to questions that we asked from the police. In a statement sent to us tonight the police saying that you were informed that Strike Force Lantle would be fully investigating the allegations. It was because they were under a different operational command or local area command than the one that you worked in, that you were not appropriately meant to be part of that strike force.

    PETER FOX: I don't know who said that, Tony. That's the first time I've ever had those comments made to me.

    TONY JONES: This is a statement from Assistant Commissioner Carlene York of the Northern Command NSW.

    PETER FOX: I - she wasn't at the meeting when I was directed to hand all the documentation over. What I will say is that I did send her a report expressing my concern and the reasons why I felt that I should be left with carriage of that matter, detailing many of the issues you've raised tonight plus a lot more. Nothing changed.

    TONY JONES: Does this statement seem legitimate to you? Does it seem like the real reason why you weren't allowed to continue that investigation?

  13. PETER FOX: I was never told why. To sort of say that I was - Raymond Terrace is a stone's throw from Newcastle. It's only a few kilometres. As you pointed out, I had a lot of experience and you do, you build up a very strong rapport. It wasn't just that particular witness, but I'd also spoken to a number of other victims that had been terribly abused by McAlinden.

    TONY JONES: In other words, you were a logical person to be on the taskforce? Strike force.

    PETER FOX: You can say that, but it's something that I think most police are trained. We're instructed when you go to detectives courses is that you don't hand victims around like numbers. When they sit down and a victim talks to you, they open up to you, they pour their heart and soul out and they tell you things that they've never told another living soul. And then you've got to turn around say, "Well, I'm not going to talk to you anymore. You have got to go down and see these people." I know from my training that is something that I'd never encountered before.

    TONY JONES: It's going to seem passing strange to most observers, as it does to me, I must say.

    But let me just move on because you've actually called for a Royal Commission. If there were a Royal Commission, would this whistleblower, the insider who seems to know so much be prepared to talk at the Royal Commission, to give evidence and to lay out all of this in front of the public?

    PETER FOX: Tony, I don't know. I was directed not to contact them again. My last contact with her was - she was virtually in tears when I handed her a copy of a statement and told her to hang on to it and that was my last contact with her. I don't mind saying that there was a lot more that was said at that meeting that I won't say here. I think that it is best left for another forum.

    But to say that that was a very difficult moment and something that quite saddened me as an investigator of well over 30 years in this job.

    TONY JONES: But do you believe that a Royal Commission is necessary for people like this to be able to come forward. Is that the only environment in which it would really work?

    PETER FOX: There's so much that the police force can't do. We don't have power. I have gone to other government departments, I've gone to the Ombudsman over aspects of it. Still today there are some antiquated rules and laws where priests, for argument's sake, that have had allegations of abusing and molesting children, that is kept by the bishop.

    If it's a school teacher in the Catholic school system, it goes to a different department. But the bishops still retain that. I don't know why. There's no obligation on them to pass that information on to police. And I don't think that's a secret.

    The Victorian inquiry and I think the inquiries overseas and just history itself says that that doesn't happen. There's so much evidence on the basis that paedophile priests, once they become known by their hierarchy, the hierarchy has a systemic pattern of not forwarding that information on.

    We need to get around that, because as I said in that letter to the Premier - and I don't want the issue to become adversarial, I don't want to enter into ...

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  14. TONY JONES: OK. Well, let's put it this way: I'm sure Barry O'Farrell will see this interview. He's up until now said no Royal Commission, he doesn't want to be pressure into having a Royal Commission. He, I understand, won't even reply to your letter. Here's your chance to say something to him. What do you say?

    PETER FOX: Well, on that basis, I have three children at home. Probably like most families, I've got some of their photographs on the wall. They're now grown adults, but we still have the photos of when they were growing up on our wall. Two of them are now - have our grandchildren. I'm sure Mr O'Farrell has children. I understand he has two boys. A lot of these victims' families have similar photos. I've walked into their homes and I've seen them.

    We're lucky. We haven't had to go through what some of those other families have gone through. If Mr O'Farrell just sits back and he can look up on that wall and see those pictures of his boys, he has a lot of thanks to give that his boys were never ever abused in the way that some of these other families have.

    And if he has any compassion and humanity for some of these victims, he's got to turn around. Why can we have an inquiry in Victoria - and the police down there have been fantastic. We've seen the evidence that the Commissioner and the assistant commissioners have been right behind it and they're tabling stuff and yet I'm dismayed here in a state of NSW that we're saying it stops at the Murray River, they don't come up here.

    When we can make a change that is going to stop more victims from being abused, that's the real difference. We can actually impact upon the number. And to sit back and say, "Listen, we're not going to do that," something is wrong in the state of NSW if that's the attitude.

    TONY JONES: Detective chief inspector Peter Fox, an extraordinary story. We thank you very much for coming on Lateline to talk to us.

    PETER FOX: Thank you very much, Tony, for airing it.

    TONY JONES: And the full responses of the NSW Police to Lateline's questions will be posted on our website.

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  15. continued from previous comment...


    Responses to Lateline’s questions from Assistant Commissioner Carlene York, Northern Region Commander.

    1. What is your response to the letter and article in the Newcastle Herald today in particular the concerns raised by Detective Inspector Peter Fox?

    The views of Detective Chief Inspector Fox are not necessarily the views of the NSWP Force. All matters referred to NSWP have and will continue to be investigated to their full extent. NSW Police Force are not in a position to comment on the call for a judicial enquiry, this issue should be referred to the appropriate authority.

    2. Are you 100 per cent happy with how the NSW Police are handling the allegations of cover ups and concealing crimes by members of the clergy?

    NSW Police Force has investigated matters relating to Strike Force Lantle thoroughly. I am satisfied that all avenues of enquiry that we are aware of have been followed through and appropriate referrals made. I am not in a position to comment on any other investigations that may have occurred.

    3. Is the Catholic Church and its senior officers fully cooperating with your investigations including Strike Force Lantle?

    It is my understanding that as a whole the church have cooperated with police. All potential witnesses were offered an opportunity to provide information, one of whom declined to be interviewed.

    4. Do you believe a judicial Inquiry would jeopardise current police investigations?

    Unless further evidence comes to light, the NSWP Force has fully investigated Strike Force Lantle matters. There are no further lines of enquiry to investigate thus any Judicial Inquiry should have no effect on current investigations. I cannot however comment on any other investigations that may be underway within NSW Police Force and any impact on them.

    This matter now rests with the ODPP for a decision as to whether the matter can progress. The NSWP Force cannot comment on the effect any judicial inquiry may have on a successful prosecution should the ODPP determine there that a prosecution may proceed

    5. Have your officers been impeded in their investigations by any member of the clergy ? or officers or employees of the Catholic Church?

    See question 3.

    6. Why was Chief Inspector, Peter Fox asked to cease investigating the clergy matter and hand over all his evidence to other police?

    Strike Force Lantle was established to ensure that a thorough and coordinated investigation was undertaken in relation to the allegations raised. At that time Detective Chief Inspector Fox was a Crime Manager at Port Stephens Local Area Command and was informed the Strike Force would be fully investigating the allegations. The Strike Force was undertaken by Detectives from the Local Area Command responsible for the investigation, that being Newcastle City. It would be unusual for a Crime Manager from a neighbouring LAC to work on a Strike Force in another LAC, particularly one like Newcastle City LAC where there were already 2 Detective Inspectors overseeing investigative issues. Detective Chief Inspector Fox was consulted on numerous occasions and asked to provide information to assist the investigation.


  16. Victims hail royal commission as bittersweet victory

    By Samantha Donovan and Lexi Metherell ABC News Australia November 13, 2012

    Victims and their families have welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement of a royal commission into child sexual abuse, saying it is a bittersweet victory.

    Pressure had been building on the Government to react to growing social and political outrage at the latest series of revelations of paedophilia in society, most of which are centred on the Catholic Church.

    Julia Gillard announced yesterday the creation of a royal commission into institutional responses to instances of child sexual abuse.

    The inquiry will cover the treatment of children in all institutions - not just the Catholic Church.

    Ms Gillard said there had been a systemic failure to respond to the issue, and she indicated that recent revelations about priests being sheltered by the church clinched her decision.

    The news coincided with the arrest of a Sydney Catholic Brother and teacher, who have been charged with child abuse offences dating back to the mid-1980s.

    Parents Anthony and Chrissie Foster are long-time campaigners for a royal commission into the handling of child abuse.

    Two of their daughters were raped by their parish priest when they were in primary school.

    Emma Foster later committed suicide. Katie Foster took to drinking heavily and was hit by a car.

    She is now physically and mentally disabled and requires 24-hour care.

    The Fosters told ABC News Breakfast they were elated at the news of a royal commission.

    "We're elated that it's happened. We now need to see good, solid results coming out of it," Mr Foster said.

    "It's really, really important now that it moves forward very quickly, that it's well resourced, that we don't see it dragging on forever."

    Mrs Foster says the term "abuse" is not strong enough for what happened to her daughters.

    "It was such a shock when we found out what had happened to Emma, and 15 months later what had happened to Katie," she said.

    "Abuse is such a weak word because we are talking about the rape of little children.

    "Emma was in prep, Katie was in prep or grade one - from that age, and not just a one-off, but for years.

    "These were little innocent children and at the time when Emma disclosed she was only 13."

    Mr and Mrs Foster say when they first confronted the church, their daughters were accused of making up the stories for money.

    "There was a dismissive approach from the church," Mr Foster said.

    "[Sydney Archbishop] George Pell phoned us and said 'We won't believe any of this, it's all gossip until proven in court'," he said.

    "Just an incredible attitude... and we subsequently came to find out that the Catholic Church knew about our daughters' perpetuators back in the 1950s and had covered him up."

    Mr Foster says the royal commission must proceed quickly, and must meet victims' expectations.

    "Victims' hopes must be raised. They must understand what is capable for them, what can be done for them," he said.

    "So many of these victims are downtrodden; they don't understand even their basic rights.

    "They've been abused, assaulted, and re-abused by the church. They need to be told, they need to be shown what is capable for their life and their lives need to be restored as best as possible to what they would have been without these assaults."

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  17. He says the royal commission should take no longer than two years.

    "This royal commission should have been called back in '95, '96 - there is no doubt about that," he said.

    "So it must proceed now quickly within a timeframe so that those that were guiltily of covering up are caught now and don't get away with just dying and going on."

    For Lake Macquarie woman Tracey Pirona, the announcement of the royal commission has come as a bittersweet victory.

    Her husband John took his own life in July this year after being sexually abused as a child by a Hunter region paedophile priest.

    Mrs Pirona says she felt enormous relief when the Prime Minister's announcement was made.

    "I just hope that John and everybody that has paid a price for this, that their families that are left here like us, their children, that this is some type of justice for them because it has been a long, long time coming," she said.

    As a schoolboy in the Victorian town of Ballarat in the 1970s, Stephen Woods was repeatedly sexually abused by three Catholic clergy.

    He says he is ecstatic that a royal commission has been announced.

    "I've been calling for a royal commission for over 15 years and finally people have started to see the reality of what I have known - that clergy, in particular the Catholic Church, have just left a litany of tragic families, of abuse," he said.

    "Finally now hopefully everybody, everyone, will have their say."

    Mr Woods believes a national royal commission can achieve more than smaller state-based inquiries.

    "The priest who raped me when I was 14, he was moved from parish to parish to parish, he was moved interstate and he was moved overseas and came back and every single place where he was, he molested and raped," he said.

    "Those are the types of career criminal paedophiles that will be and should be exposed in a national inquiry."

    Meanwhile, the Catholic Church is standing by the way it has handled allegations of sex abuse of children in its ranks.

    The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne and president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Dennis Hart, has welcomed the scrutiny, but at the same time has defended the integrity of the Church's procedures.

    "I would certainly believe that our procedures that we use since 1996 to address matters of abuse should be subject to appropriate scrutiny and that scrutiny has my full support and we will cooperate fully with the royal commission," Archbishop Hart said.

    "I believe it will be a moment when all these matters can be faced.

    "It will certainly help to clear the air and for that reason I welcome it because I think the community needs to know that these matters are being addressed skilfully and clearly and with determination and I'm determined to cooperate with that."

    Archbishop Hart believes the royal commission will clear up people's doubts about the church.

    "We do need this activity at this stage, this inquiry at this stage to make quite sure that the right thing is being done to clear out once and for all any doubt about the church and as I go around from parish to parish, I sense that there is a great love of the church, a great love of priests, but a terrible scandal at the few who have offended so terribly," he said.


  18. The Catholic Church: institutionalised sexual violence against children

    By Sheleyah Courtney, Online Opinion Australia November 23, 2012

    As a social scientist who is interested in calibrations of power, religion and sexuality, my outlook on a discussion of the Catholic Church's involvement in sexual abuse of Australian children is one that considers such a phenomenon as being situated and operative well within a wider psycho-social context. While there have been very recently published valuable sociological studies of such problems, for example last year Marie Keenan's important "Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church" in Ireland, such works as this one focus especially on the institutional dimensions of the church itself. However, regarding this terrible issue, I view the intersections between the church and our society as seriously warranting greater consideration.

    There are several issues that extend beyond the actual church's internal cultural structures that are especially noteworthy to me. Firstly, child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church has a factuality that has been taken for granted for some time in the public imagination both in Australia and abroad; this knowledge has been reflected in popular culture ranging from tabloid news sensationalism to Hollywood films such as "Sleepers" (1996) starring Brad Pitt and closer to home, "Oranges and Sunshine" which exposed several cases of the thousands of English children who were illegally transported to Australia and who were placed in homes run by the Christian Brothers, were sexually abused and or forced into virtual slave labour (2011).

    The 2006 documentary "Deliver Us From Evil" which traces the notorious pedophile priest Oliver O'Grady and the corruption in the Catholic Church that protected him; it was Oscar nominated. In Australia there has been a victim support group, "Broken Rites" operating since 1993, and a book, "Hell on the Way to Heaven" published by Chrissie and Anthony Foster parents of two daughters who died due to sexual abuse by a priest of the Catholic Church.

    Such a large range social phenomena as these bear witness, they give articulation to our shared western cultural experience and they testify to what is surely widespread social trauma that extends beyond that of victims and their families, beyond the Catholic community and painfully, tentacle-like into the total Australian psycho-social fabric.

    Given this, another glaring question that arises is: how and why has such long-term abuse of children by the Catholic Church gone unprosecuted and unpunished? Were a bikie gang, religious cult such as the Children of God or a minority cultural group of men (e.g. Lebanese Australians) accused of such crimes, they would surely have been prosecuted post haste and severely punished as was indeed the case regarding offenders from the latter group in recent years in Sydney.

    So then thirdly, what – to date – has exempted the Catholic Church from thorough investigation of these allegations in what is an arguably secular nation-state? Put another way, why have we been uneasy, reluctant, afraid or unable to do so? Why have we accepted the Catholic Church's continued commitment to protecting offenders – never handing them over to face state authorities - and to protecting the assets of the church via in-house inquiry processes such as that in Melbournes's Archdiocese that make payments to victims that are one off and cover all abuse claims whether past or future?

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  19. Some hypotheses that may go some way towards fathoming these problems might be that, the ancient and powerful Catholic Church has operated simultaneously within, above and separately from lay society and despite our self-image of being a secular nation, nonetheless remains – in our consciousness - very powerful and difficult to challenge. But why should this be - is it logically consistent? Not really.

    While it is a truism to describe disrespect for secular authority as intrinsic to our 'larrikin' national character, we have nonetheless simultaneously been influenced by an institution that claims to mediate between our very mortality and our eternity – a trump card that is rather an unequal or unfair advantage in assertions of power. These are claims that we passively internalize in our socialization at home, in church, in school and through exposure to popular media; these have combined in our consciousness to produce both real memories and also less conscious, less rational anxieties that extend beyond generalized guilt to more particular fears about loss of heaven and spectres of hell that were even more difficult to challenge because they were also quite intangibly irrational.

    So perhaps we also need to question what is not rational in our society and it may also well be that our irrationalities that nevertheless are part of what gives us a sense of stability and solidarity in the face of unspoken anxieties – the most awful being those about the safety of our children. And could it also be that underlying our respective secularism, or our atheism, our agnosticism, our alternative religion or our enduring Christian or other faiths is a shared hope that some people – including those of the cloth – still retain a residual identification with goodness, safety, kindness and may still contribute to social solidarity in an era where we do not believe our politicians and all is precarious. In other words, regardless of our conscious beliefs, our underlying socio-cultural ethos and ethics draws profoundly on the morality of our forbears - Christian in the main - and the custodial institution of such morality retains thus its gravitas since it still underpins the solidarity of social order.

    Hence, perhaps it has been too terrible for people to do more than whisper in some quarters and shout in others about such deviancy, since actually taking on such an ancient and megalithic institution with our merely secular instruments of law and crown can, in this view, provoke deep anxieties about our very cultural stability.

    This status quo now appears to be shifting. From current news reportage Australians have heard troubling albeit explicit allegations from veteran police investigator Detective Inspector Peter Fox, who told Lateline his investigations were hindered by interference from within the Police force and by the Catholic Church. This is the kind of rupture we needed to see – one between the Church and our own social instruments of law - in order to take possession of our own civil authority.

    About the Author

    Sheleyah Courtney is lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sydney. Her research is among marginalised Hindu women of Varanasi, a city in North India that is holy for Hindus. She explores issues in Indian urban and diasporic communities of violence, cosmology, sexuality, and gender. Her work embraces phenomenological and psychological anthropology; and is informed by critical feminist theory. She is a catlover and Bollywood movie enthusiast.


  20. Sex victims' parents tell of Pell's 'sociopathic' response

    by Barney Zwartz The Age Australia November 23, 2012

    CARDINAL George Pell showed a ''sociopathic lack of empathy, typifying the attitude and response of the Catholic hierarchy'' to parents whose young daughters were repeatedly raped by a priest, the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled child sex abuse has been told.

    Anthony Foster told on Friday how they met the cardinal - now Archbishop of Sydney - when he was Melbourne archbishop, in a furniture storage room at a Melbourne presbytery. They were squeezed onto a narrow wooden bench, while he sat in a ''grandiose'' padded leather chair.

    He expressed no emotion when shown a picture of the Fosters' daughter Emma harming herself - she later killed herself - and said expressionlessly: ''Hmmm, she's changed, hasn't she?''

    ''What sort of of people did he mix with, what sort of life did he lead, that he thought this comment was appropriate?'' Mr Foster asked.

    From the start, he was confrontational and told them: ''If you don't like what we are doing, take us to court,'' Mr Foster said.

    Coincidentally, the inquiry posted on its website on Friday a submission by another victim of the priest, Kevin O'Donnell, who raped the Fosters' daughters. This victim (name withheld) also spoke of Cardinal Pell, saying that meeting him and other church staff was ''unpleasant and distressing'' and describing her experience of the church as ''harsh, cold and uncaring'' from her childhood to her time in a convent to reporting O'Donnell to the police.

    Another victim, Ian Lawther, whose son was a victim, said that every time Cardinal Pell spoke publicly to defend the Catholic Church, he caused further pain for victims suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. ''[He is] only doing a lot of damage to sufferers.''

    He said he had received ''zero'' signs of contrition from the church. ''There needs to be complete accountability. We don't need an organisation that runs and hides behind canon law. There should be one law for all the people in this country.''

    Friday was the first time victims themselves gave evidence. Mr Foster, who appeared with his wife, author and advocate Chrissie, and daughters Katie and Aimee, said the sociopathic response was their experience in meeting the cardinal, in watching him discuss their family in the media, and in the fact that neither the cardinal nor his replacement as Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, had tried even once to contact them.

    Katie Foster is in a wheelchair after being hit by a car when she was drunk. She turned to binge drinking after the abuse though the church had received complaints in 1946, 1958 and 1984 that O'Donnell was a child abuser.

    The parliamentary committee room was packed, but there was utter silence as Mr Foster said that if after any of those complaints church officials had removed O'Donnell from ministry, ''our daughters and scores of other victims would have been spared their life of torment and the crippling effects''.

    Although the church accepted, in offering compensation, the girls had been abused, when the case came to court it was ''strenuously defended'', as the church's lawyer Richard Leder had threatened.

    Mr Foster told the inquiry: ''We fervently hope that you have the strength of character to stand up for the rights of children against the Catholic Church. Victoria could lead the way,'' a theme echoed by each witness.


  21. Helplines flooded after church probe announced

    By Jill Stark and Jane Lee The Courier, Australia November 25, 2012

    SUICIDE helplines, psychologists and support groups have been flooded with demand for counselling, as sex abuse victims urge the royal commission to focus on institutional cover-ups and creating a compensation scheme.

    Following the November 12 announcement of the royal commission, the Lifeline national suicide helpline, which usually manages 1500 calls a day, fielded 250 extra calls a day from abuse survivors, some of whom had never spoken of their ordeals.

    While the number of royal commission-related calls has since dropped to about 40 a day, Lifeline chief executive Jane Hayden said the service was still stretched and demand was likely to increase again when proceedings begin.

    ''Callers are not coping with their own emotional reactions to the news and not knowing where to turn. People want to tell their story but they're distressed because the media coverage reminds them of what they suffered.''

    A date has yet to be set for the start of the royal commission, which could run for several years.

    Ms Hayden's call for extra government funding for victims was backed by Frank Quinlan, chief executive of the Mental Health Council of Australia, which represents 180 mental health services.

    ''I have been personally approached by people who are experiencing increased levels of distress in relation to matters that they thought had been put to bed a long time ago,'' he said.

    Heather Gridley, of the Australian Psychological Society, said that while the size of the royal commission might empower some abuse survivors, it would be also be traumatic. ''The secrecy around sexual assault, in a systemic way like this, is one of the biggest things,'' she said.

    ''So someone's had to live with a secret, be blackmailed, threatened, cajoled into not telling and all those kinds of things. It's like sitting in a dark room, and then you've been out of the dark room for a long time and suddenly you're back in there again, so it's not surprising that it triggers such distress.''

    As Monday's deadline for submissions from victims' groups approaches, Mark Fabbro, a leader of the Survivors' Network for those Abused by Priests, said commissioners should investigate concealment of sexual crimes against minors, with those who sought to destroy or hide evidence held criminally liable.

    ''It's important for justice and to ensure that in future, religious organisations are dissuaded from using the same mechanisms they have historically,'' he said.

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  22. In Good Faith and Associates, which testified at the Victorian inquiry into child abuse, agreed. The group will submit that commissioners investigate the ''movement and cover-up of activities of offenders''.

    The group's recommendations were based on concerns raised directly by victims over the years, researcher Clare Leaney said. She said commissioners should investigate a fair way to compensate all victims. ''We have seen multiple instances where $5000 has been offered for quite substantial incidents of abuse,'' Ms Leaney said.

    Care Leavers Australia Network executive officer Leonie Sheedy said compensation was needed to ''repair shattered lives'' of victims, who were at an economic and social disadvantage as a result of abuse. ''We left those institutions with no money … with government-issued clothing if we were lucky, and were left to fend for ourselves,'' she said.

    She said many victims struggled to survive. ''We're in low-paying jobs, a lot of care leavers are on disability pensions, a lot of them are very anxious about their funerals.''

    The Catholic and Anglican churches declined to comment on their planned submissions. The Uniting Church said it did not plan to make a submission, as that was the prerogative of victims.


  23. Tardy extradition bid allows abusing Catholic brother to flee to Sri Lanka

    by Paul Bibby, Rory Callinan and Martin Van Beynen The Age Australia November 26, 2012

    A FORMER Catholic brother charged five months ago with hundreds of counts of sexual abuse against children and young adults is now living in Sri Lanka because authorities dragged their feet in seeking his extradition to Australia.

    Former St John of God brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who recently served two years in a New Zealand prison for sexually abusing boys there, had 252 abuse charges laid against him in a Newcastle court on June 27.

    The 65-year-old is alleged to have repeatedly raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at church-run institutions in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese during the late 1970s and '80s.

    It is understood that a number of the charges relate to McGrath's time as a brother at the notorious Kendall Grange College in Morissett, New South Wales.

    Fairfax media revealed on Sunday that McGrath is one of three St John of God brothers being sued by Sydney's so-called "playboy rapist", Simon Monteiro, who is currently serving a jail sentence for aggravated rape and who claims that the abuse he suffered has left him with severe psychological disorders.

    Among the charges faced by McGrath are 30 counts of homosexual intercourse with a male between the age of 10 and 18, 30 counts of homosexual intercourse between a teacher and a student aged between 10 and 18, and 102 charges of indecent assault.

    NSW police were meant to extradite McGrath to Australia from Christchurch where he had lived since being paroled in 2008. But Fairfax Media has learnt that McGrath was allowed to fly out of New Zealand some time after the charges were lodged and is currently staying on a tea plantation in the highlands of Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka is a known haven for paedophiles, particularly its rural areas where criminals run large, organised child-sex operations. Australia does not have a direct extradition treaty with Sri Lanka.

    McGrath's New Zealand brother, Clem McGrath, said the accused man had flown out of Christchurch in early winter after a friend had told him: "Why don't you come to Sri Lanka? You've got nothing here."

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  24. When asked on Sunday, neither NSW Police nor the office of federal Home Affairs and Justice Minister Jason Clare would say when the process of extraditing McGrath had begun.

    "NSW Police will not comment in relation to this investigation as speculation may jeopardise current lines of inquiry," a police spokesman said.

    But a New Zealand police source told Fairfax Media that the formal extradition request had only come to them from Interpol on November 15 - nearly five months after the charges were laid, and many weeks after McGrath reportedly left the country.

    It is understood that the extradition may have been delayed by the multiple levels of bureaucracy involved in the extradition process.

    It is not known whether Sri Lankan authorities have been informed that an accused paedophile is living in their country.

    Although Australia does not have a direct extradition treaty with Sri Lanka, it can extradite suspects from there under the London Scheme, which enables Commonwealth countries to extradite fugitive criminals to each other upon the presentation of prima face evidence.

    Fairfax Media understands that Australian federal police based in Sri Lanka have been made aware of McGrath's presence and may have been following his movements.

    Brother McGrath was transferred to New Zealand to be a teacher and dormitory master at Marylands, a SJOG boarding school near Christchurch for boys with learning and behavioural difficulties.

    In 1993 he was sentenced to three years' jail in New Zealand for offences at Marylands and the Hebron Trust, a learning centre for street kids.

    In 2002, more complainants contacted New Zealand police concerning sexual assaults by McGrath, culminating in his conviction in 2006 on 22 counts of abuse.

    According to the online Factbook on Global Exploitation, 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas in Sri Lanka are trafficked and prostituted to paedophiles by organised crime groups every year.



    By Dan Cox and staff, ABC Australia May 7, 2013

    The New South Wales policeman who blew the whistle on an alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Hunter Valley says senior police searched his office for sensitive files while he was on leave.

    The inquiry is looking at how complaints about deceased former priests Denis McAlinden and Jim Fletcher in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese were investigated.

    It was sparked by the allegations of whistleblower Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, who is giving evidence today.

    Peter Fox has told the inquiry two senior police officers turned his office upside down while he was on leave for a month.

    He said the sensitive files they were after were in a secure safe, but after that he started to distrust senior police.

    Earlier, Peter Fox told the hearing that a statement from a victim of James Fletcher was the most difficult he had taken.

    "The crimes were of the most horrid nature, the worst I've heard," he said.

    Detective Chief Inspector Fox told the inquiry there was collusion by the then Bishop Michael Malone as well as other clergy.

    He said James Fletcher was warned by the church he was being investigated in June 2002.

    Detective Chief Inspector Fox said that gave Fletcher full knowledge there was a complainant and who that complainant was, and gave him the opportunity to destroy evidence that would have affected the investigation.

    He also told the court, he has heard a former policeman Troy Grant describe other officers aligned to the church as the "Catholic mafia".

    Detective Chief Inspector Fox said Mr Grant's investigation into another paedophile priest Vincent Ryan was hindered when he was continually given other substantial cases to investigate and sent away on trips.

    He said Mr Grant was not able to fully investigate the case, and it felt deliberate.

    New South Wales Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC is overseeing the inquiry.

    In her opening address, she told the inquiry that children are "vulnerable and innocent" and that sexual abuse "casts a shadow over their whole lives."

    The Commissioner said all sexual abuse is a gross and inexcusable breach of trust.

    "The diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has had a very troubled history regarding issues of child protection and the sexual abuse of children," she said.

    The Commissioner said it is not too late for victims to come forward.

    "I have previously encouraged and continue to encourage these people to contact the inquiry so that their voices may be heard," she said.

    Hunter Valley man Peter Gogarty was abused by Fletcher when he was a boy.

    Before the inquiry, he said he hopes anyone found to be involved in a cover-up will be brought to account.

    "I think a prosecution out of this, of senior people in the Catholic Church would be a wonderful outcome for the victims," he said.

    "I will be very, very interested to find out if the police have deliberately decided that it was too hard to investigate these matters, then that's a serious, serious concern for our community."

    He said he was very happy the inquiry was going ahead.

    Over the next two weeks, the inquiry will hear from eighteen witnesses, including some of the state's most senior police officers.


  26. NSW Enquiry: Peter Fox’s Evidence (Or: They Shoot Messengers, Don’t They?)

    By Lewis Blayse, Commentary on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia)


    May 7, 2013

    Detective Chief Inspector Fox has many enemies, even within the NSW police force.

    In the past two days, he has given evidence to the NSW enquiry into clerical child sexual abuse within the Maitland-Newcastle diocese. Clearly, he was being muzzled by superior officers for some reason. To Mr. Fox, it was because they wanted to protect the Catholic Church. He referred to a “catholic mafia.”

    To the police, he was a rogue cop who didn’t follow orders. In particular, those orders were to get off the case, and not to have any further contact with a local journalist who had provided much information from her discussions with victims.

    Over the next few days, a string of senior police officers are due to front the enquiry. It can be expected that they will attempt to paint a negative picture of both Mr. Fox and the journalist. This is par for the course in such matters involving whistle-blowers. They always shoot the messenger. In this case, they may miss their mark.

    A rogue cop is not one who resorts to the media to get justice for the victims. A rogue cop is the one in Victoria who apparently has recently passed on secret police files containing the identities of undercover police operatives to the Hells Angels bikie gang. In the first example, police are embarrassed. In the second example, police are endangered. The public can tell the difference.

    Voices must be raised. It is incumbent on all who believe in justice for the victims not to let the Catholic Church and the culpable people within the NSW police department get away with shooting the messenger.

    Read more here:












  27. MP denies Catholic Mafia comment at abuse inquiry

    By Dan Cox, ABC News Australia May 8, 2013

    A former New South Wales policeman turned state MP has denied describing some senior Hunter Valley officers as the "Catholic Mafia".

    Nationals MP for the state seat of Dubbo Troy Grant has given evidence on the third day of the Special Commission of Inquiry into how New South Wales Police and the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese handled allegations of child sexual abuse by two priests.

    Previously Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said Mr Grant described senior officers as the "Catholic Mafia" because they are "aligned to the church".

    But Mr Grant has told the court that the phrase grabs attention, and he would remember it if he had used it.

    He said he had no reason to report any interference from the force at any time and was fully supported.

    Mr Grant said his complaint is not about collusion between the NSW Police and the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, it is about the church alone.

    The MP said the first he heard of Peter Fox's allegations of a cover-up was on the ABC's Lateline program last year.

    Outside the hearing Mr Grant said he was fully supported in his investigations.

    "I was never obstructed," he said.

    "My investigations from a policing point of view went through as per normal as is reflected in the results achieved both in the criminal and the civil courts for my matters."

    The MP was asked if he believed there was a Catholic mafia within the church itself.

    "No, there were individuals who acted completely inappropriately, commensurate with any of their pastoral care," he said.

    "I believe they acted illegally and I put that in a brief of evidence...to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who chose not to pursue that prosecution.

    "It's a decision to this day I disagree with, but I don't hold any anger or frustration at the DPP for making that decision."

    "I actually look at myself and question myself and carry a level of guilt that I perhaps didn't do a good enough job in relation to holding (to account) those people in the Catholic Church who covered up these crimes, as far back as 1974 and continued that behaviour while I was investigating in 1995."

    Mr Grant says one of those he tried to have charged was a nun.

    "A nun provided me with false evidence and played an active roll in tipping off the priest the night before I arrested him," he said.

    Mr Grant says he is willing to give that evidence to the national Royal Commission into sexual abuse within institutions.


  28. Cardinal George Pell admits Church covered up cases of child sex abuse

    By Brigid Andersen, ABC News Australia May 27, 2013

    Australia's top-ranking Catholic has admitted to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that some members of the Church tried to cover up child sexual abuse by other members of the clergy.

    Cardinal George Pell told the inquiry he was "fully apologetic and absolutely sorry" about decades of child sex abuse within the Church.

    Some members of the packed public gallery wept as Cardinal Pell was forced to answer questions about the Church's systemic cover-up of cases of rape of children as young as five-years old.

    "I'm certainly totally committed to improving the situation. I know the Holy Father is too," he told the inquiry.

    Despite being heckled during parts of the inquiry, Cardinal Pell defended the action the Church had taken action to tackle abuse.

    "Many people in the public think not only were there many mistakes made a long time ago, but there's been no progress at all over the last 20 years," he said.

    "I don't think that's borne out by the facts of the case. But that's for people to judge."

    Cardinal Pell says he recently learned that former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns had destroyed documents to hide cases of abuse and he admitted that in some cases members of the clergy were placed above the law.

    But he denies paying lip service to victims of Church abuse and only saying sorry because he was caught out.

    "I have already stated quite explicitly, acknowledged the errors that have been made by Bishop Mulkearns and [former Melbourne archbishop Frank Little]," he said.

    He says while there have been some cases of cover-ups, the main problem is that many within the Church did not talk about the problem of child sex abuse because they were not "gossips".

    "I think many persons in the leadership of the Church, I don't think they knew what a horrendous widespread [issue] we were sitting on," he said.

    Solidarity with 'the lowest of the low'

    He was questioned about his support for former priest and one of Australia's worst paedophiles Gerald Ridsdale.

    In 1993 Ridsdale pleaded guilty to 30 charges relating to sexual offences committed against nine boys aged between 12 and 16.

    Cardinal Pell denies knowledge of the "extent" of Ridsdale's "career".

    He defended his solidarity towards Ridsdale, who he lived with for 12 months and who he accompanied to court when he pleaded guilty to child sex offences.

    "I felt there was something in the gospels where Christ speaks about being with the lowest of the low. As an expression of solidarity, I gave that limited support," he said.

    "I had a principle that any time I was asked to go to court on behalf of one of my parishioners I generally did and I always said, 'I'm here just to say that there is a good side to this person and I support them to the extent that is compatible with justice'.

    "I certainly never intended to... aid and abet or to dodge the issues."

    He says he did not realise the insult this would be to the victims.

    continued in next comment...

  29. Fears of bleeding the Church dry

    Cardinal Pell has been questioned extensively on the issue of compensation for victims of Church abuse and over claims he thought it could "bleed the Church dry".

    But he says he has only tried to be prudent with the Church's funds.

    He was asked how he is able to stay in a $30 million "palace" in Rome, when Australian victims of abuse are limited to just $75,000 in compensation.

    Parliamentary secretary Andrea Coote suggested the Church sell off the Italian property so it could afford more generous compensation, but Cardinal Pell says the Church did not need to do that.

    "It is not a palace. It is not my home. I have two nice rooms there which I'm very happy about. Which I use as a base when I'm in Rome. It is a hostel for pilgrims," he said.

    "It's an investment there. We don't need to sell investments at the moment to pay our damages and whatever damages compensation there are, we'll be fully able to do so."

    In the United States, Church abuse victims can typically receive around $1 million in compensation, but Cardinal Pell says the huge differences between the US and Australia is because America is a litigious society where they pay a much higher rate.

    When asked if he thought $75,000 was an appropriate sum for people who had been anally and orally raped by priests when they were children, Cardinal Pell says the Church pays what the Government recommends.

    "Many of the victims aren't particularly interested in money. The more important thing is due process, justice, and help with getting on with their lives," he said.

    Daughters repeatedly raped by priest

    Cardinal Pell was pressed over the way he personally dealt with cases of abuse, in particularly that of the Foster family, whose two daughters were repeatedly raped by Melbourne priest Kevin O'Donnell from when they were as young as five years old.

    One of the daughters died of a medication overdose in 2008 at the age of 26, while the other daughter became a binge drinker and is now mentally and physically disabled.

    The father, Anthony Foster, has said that when he met with Cardinal Pell to air his concerns, he showed a "sociopathic lack of empathy" towards the case of his daughters.

    The Fosters have since received a $750,000 payout after going to court to seek compensation.

    Cardinal Pell called the meeting "unfortunate".

    "The Church paid out $100,000 for counselling for the Fosters, and that was money well spent," Cardinal Pell said.

    Church screening processes were 'far too loose'

    continued in next comment...

  30. Cardinal Pell says he thinks there are several factors that could contribute to the high levels of abuse seen in the Victorian Catholic Church.

    Priests' celibacy and the high number of children being dealt with by the institution are both factors, he said.

    "Also... the entry procedures, the criteria, the searching, the investigation of candidates back say in the middle of last century was much too loose."

    Cardinal Pell told the inquiry the Church has been the victim of years of "intermittent hostility from the press" but he says this has helped uncover some of the Church's failings

    Cardinal Pell was the Archbishop of Melbourne between 1996 and 2001.

    In its submission to the inquiry, the Catholic Church said at least 620 Victorian children had been abused by its clergy in the past 80 years.

    Cardinal Pell is appearing on the final day of public hearings for the inquiry into the sexual abuse of children by members of non-government organisations.

    A large overflow room was set up to accommodate the large crowds but at least 20 people have been forced to wait outside, sparking heated scenes and clashes in the corridor.

    Victims and members of support groups are being forced to stand along the walls of the spillover room, which quickly reached capacity.

    Earlier today, Premier Denis Napthine said Cardinal Pell needed to be upfront about the church's failings in its handling of abuse allegations and paedophile clergy.

    "I think there is an opportunity here for Cardinal Pell to be open with the people of Victoria and Australia, I think he should be fully apologetic, should be absolutely sorry about what has occurred in the Catholic Church," he said.

    "I think it's time for George Pell, on behalf of the Catholic Church, to be open and frank, not only with the inquiry, but also with the people of Victoria and Australia."


    Read more:

    Cardinal George Pell to give evidence to Victorian child sex abuse inquiry

    Archbishop admits church too slow to act against abuse

    Christian Brothers say child abuse record indefensible

    Church admits moving known paedophile priest

  31. The NSW Enquiry Continues (Or: Bias or Lazy Journalism?)

    by Lewis Blayse, Commentary on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia) July 3, 2013 http://lewisblayse.net/2013/07/03/the-nsw-enquiry-continues-or-bias-or-lazy-journalism/

    Image: Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox at the NSW enquiry this week (Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/01/nsw-church-child-abuse-inquiry)

    In her opening address to the second session of the NSW government enquiry into clerical child sexual abuse in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese, Commissioner Ms Cunneen said: “The sexual abuse of children should no longer be a crime for which the conspiracy of silence continues to the grave. It has a devastating and long-lasting effect on victims and their families and on the community generally.” Ms Cunneen then encouraged anyone with information about such crimes to contact the commission.

    Yesterday, proceedings were dominated by evidence from Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, whose revelations triggered the enquiry and the Royal Commission. In the first session last month, Mr Fox gave evidence and then was followed by several other NSW police officers who were critical of him (see previous posting). In the present session, the process was extended by a couple more officers.

    Fortunately, Mr. Fox was afforded the dignity of another appearance to reply to some of the criticism and to expand on his previous testimony. This set back those who would wish that, in formation of public opinion, quantity would outweigh quality of evidence.

    The two priests specifically referred to in the enquiry’s Terms of Reference were Fr. McAlinden (see yesterday’s posting) and Fr. James Fletcher. Detective Chief Inspector Fox focused on Fr. Fletcher in this appearance. In 2008 Fr Fletcher pleaded not guilty in the district court but a jury found him guilty of all nine charges. Two appeals against his conviction failed and Fr Fletcher died in jail.

    In evidence earlier in the day before Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, Detective Chief Inspector Fox said he suspected Maitland Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone “deliberately” tipped off Fr Fletcher in 2002 about police investigating child sexual abuse allegations against him.

    The enquiry heard that, in 2005, the then Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone told Fletcher that someone had been to police complaining they had been sexually abused by him. Peter Fox said the victim’s mother was “most distraught” that Fletcher had been told the name of the complainant. Fr Harrigan, Monsignor Jim Saunders and Fr Bill Burston were at the meeting when Fr Fletcher was told of the investigation.

    The detective told the inquiry he did not yet have a statement from the victim and it was “a major disruption” to the investigation. He labeled the move “deliberate and sinister”, saying it “forewarned Fletcher” and “potential evidence was destroyed”. He also said the crucial “element of surprise” was “robbed” from investigators.

    Detective Chief Inspector Fox said that when he asked Bishop Malone about why he had gone out to speak to Fr Fletcher, he said he was concerned about Fr Fletcher’s welfare and wanted to offer him pastoral care. When asked whether he thought Bishop Malone’s actions were a deliberate attempt to interfere with the investigation, Mr. Fox said “it seemed fairly deliberate” as the warning gave him a chance to get his story together and took away the police investigator’s element of surprise.

    continued below

  32. Now, I will change to the first person, which I sometimes do when it is the only appropriate format. It is also an indication that it is only my opinion, and is not presented with the same level of legitimacy as the usual postings. I hope the reader bears with me on this.

    I recently received an e-mail from someone who was, probably sincerely, trying to convince me that I was overly-sympathetic to Peter Fox. Perhaps, I have been, but I would like to think not.

    An old school-friend, who became a journalism ethics professor, once told me that, sometimes, what appears, on the surface, to be unethical (i.e. biased) reporting, can sometimes merely be a product of what is usually referred to as “lazy journalism.” It does, nevertheless, have the same effect on truth and people’s feelings.

    Previous postings have attempted to draw attention to the pitfalls awaiting the unsuspecting mass-media journalist of being too close to the “official” information sources, such as the Catholic Church’s PR unit. It is too easy to become a lazy journalist in the new cost-conscious organisations, such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd. Here, one article is re-printed in many publications, so there is uniformity of approach. Any error is compounded, and magnified.

    There is also the problem of the need for getting an article out quickly to be posted on-line. This also leads to sloppy journalism where a very limited range of sources are used to write the article. The easiest thing to do is to simply cut and paste from a media release. These factors appear to have surfaced in this week’s reportage of Detective Chief Inspector Fox’s evidence.

    Instead of going to the trouble of reporting on the details of Mr. Fox’s evidence given above, The Australian newspaper’s coverage focused on a minor error in his evidence concerning when he wrote up his notes into the form of an official report. It lead with the headline: “Detective Fox gave two versions on priest evidence”. The less cost-stressed Australian Broadcasting Corporation article gave a brief mention that “Detective Chief Inspector Fox was forced to correct some evidence given in private hearings earlier this year regarding a file note about a meeting with the former Bishop.” Other outlets, like Fairfax, did not mention it at all.

    The benefit of the doubt is given to Mr. Murdoch’s “The Australian” newspaper that this was indeed a case of “lazy journalism”, rather than biased reporting. Unfortunately, it is the second example of this nature from that publication. A third example may convince some that I have given the newspaper too much of a benefit of the doubt.

    [Postscript: Is this a trend? In Greece, paedophilia is considered to be a “disability” which entitles the “sufferer” to a state disability pension.]

    Read more here:








    TOMORROW: Castledare Boys’ Home

  33. Church dumps rebel priest

    by Barney Zwartz, Religion editor, The Age September 21, 2013

    Dissident priest Greg Reynolds has been both defrocked and excommunicated over his support for women priests and gays - the first person ever excommunicated in Melbourne, he believes.

    The order comes direct from the Vatican, not at the request of Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, and apparently follows a secret denunciation in the best traditions of the inquisition, according to Father Reynolds.

    The excommunication document - written in Latin and giving no reason - was dated May 31, meaning it comes under the authority of Pope Francis who made headlines on Thursday calling for a less rule-obsessed church.

    Father Reynolds, who resigned as a parish priest in 2011 and last year founded Inclusive Catholics, said he had expected to be laicised (defrocked), but not excommunicated. But it would make no difference to his ministry.

    ''In times past excommunication was a huge thing, but today the hierarchy have lost such trust and respect,'' he said.

    ''I've come to this position because I've followed my conscience on women's ordination and gay marriage.''

    According to church teaching, excommunication is the strongest sanction and means one can not hold any office or receive any sacraments. Being laicised means one is no longer a priest.

    Fairfax Media understands that the only other Melbourne priests laicised against their will have been notorious paedophiles.

    Archbishop Hart was widely criticised after his appearance at the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled child sexual abuse when he replied to a
    question about why it took the church 18 years to ask the Vatican to defrock paedophile Desmond Gannon: ''Better late than never.''

    As with the removal of Bishop Bill Morris from Toowoomba, the Vatican moved much more swiftly on Father Reynolds over women priests.

    Father Reynolds said he was called to meet the Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, John Salvano, a canon lawyer, to ''discuss some issues'' on Wednesday morning.

    When he arrived, Father Salvano translated the document for him.

    ''He told me that Denis Hart did not apply for me to be laicised, but someone else unknown has gone over his head and contacted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [formerly the Inquisition].

    ''The Vatican never contacted me, and it gives no explanation.''

    Father Reynolds was penniless when he resigned as a Melbourne priest, and was later offered $5000 as a payout for his 32 years of service, though he says the usual figure is about $1500 per year of service - in his case, $48,000. Negotiations are continuing.

    Archbishop Hart said Father Reynolds was excommunicated because after his priestly faculties were withdrawn he continued to celebrate the Eucharist publicly and preach contrary to the teachings of the church.

    Father Reynolds is not the first Australian Catholic to be excommunicated. The best-known was Sister Mary MacKillop, who was excommunicated by her local bishop but was reinstated. In 2010 she became Australia's first saint.


  34. Former pope Benedict defends sex-abuse record

    'I never tried to cover these things up,' pope emeritus says in letter to atheist

    The Associated Press September 24, 2013

    Emeritus pope Benedict XVI has emerged from his self-imposed silence inside the Vatican walls to publish a lengthy letter to one of Italy's most well-known atheists. In it, he denies having covered up for sexually abusive priests and discusses everything from evolution to the figure of Jesus Christ.

    Excerpts of the letter were published Tuesday by La Repubblica, the same newspaper which just two weeks ago published a similar letter from Pope Francis to its own atheist publisher.

    The letters indicate that the two men in white — who live across the Vatican gardens from one another — are pursuing an active campaign to engage non-believers. It's a melding of papacies past and present that has no precedent and signals that the popes — while very different in style, personality and priorities — are of the same mind on many issues and might even be collaborating on them.

    Benedict wrote the letter to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an Italian atheist and mathematician who in 2011 wrote a book Dear Pope, I'm Writing to You. The book was Odifreddi's reaction to Benedict'sIntroduction to Christianity, perhaps his best-known work.

    In his book, Odifreddi posed a series of polemical arguments about the Catholic faith, including the church's sex abuse scandal. The former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Vatican office responsible for abuse cases, and was pope when scandal erupted in 2010, with thousands of people coming forward in Europe, Latin America and beyond saying they had been molested by priests while the Vatican turned a blind eye.

    In his letter, Benedict denies personal responsibility, saying: "I never tried to cover these things up."

    "That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time we must do everything to prevent it from repeating," he wrote, according to Repubblica.

    While Vatican officials have long insisted that Benedict did more than anyone in the church to confront the problem of abusive clergy, Benedict's letter marked the first time he himself had publicly denied personal responsibility for the scandal.

    Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign when he retired Feb. 28, setting the stage for the election of Francis two weeks later. Benedict said at the time that he would spend his final years "hidden from the world," living in a converted monastery tucked behind St. Peter's Basilica, reading and praying.

    Benedict's decision to cloister himself was in part due to his own shy, bookish nature, but also to make clear that he was no longer pope and that his successor was in charge.

    continued below

  35. Fear of schism in the church had prevented popes for centuries from stepping down, and Benedict's resignation immediately raised some not-insignificant questions: How would the Catholic Church deal with the novel situation of having one reigning and one retired pope living side-by-side, each of them called "pope," each of them wearing papal white and even sharing the same aide in Monsignor Georg Gaenswein?

    Benedict has been seen only a handful of times since his retirement, and only once with Francis at an official Vatican ceremony in July. A prolific writer, he has published nothing since retiring — except for the encyclicalThe Light of Faith which was signed by Francis but was actually written almost entirely by Benedict.

    All of which made Repubblica's publication of his letter all the more remarkable, since it came out of the blue and just two weeks after a letter on almost the exact same subject was penned by Francis on the same pages.

    The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it was pure coincidence that the two men had written two well-known Italian atheists on the same subject in as many weeks. Francis's letter used a language that is much closer to Benedict's style — but Lombardi denied the two had collaborated on it.

    "They are autonomous and distinct initiatives," Lombardi told The Associated Press.

    In Benedict's letter, he takes Odifreddi to task for what he said was the "aggressiveness" of his book, and responds to many of the arguments raised with piqued criticism himself.

    "What you say about the figure of Jesus isn't worthy of your scientific standing," wrote Benedict, who authored a highly praised, three-volume work on Jesus Christ during his pontificate.

    He similarly criticizes Odifreddi's "religion of mathematics" as "empty" since it doesn't even consider three fundamental themes for humanity: freedom, love and evil.

    On evolution, he wrote: "If you want to substitute God with Nature, the question remains: What does this Nature consist of? Nowhere do you define it and it appears rather like an irrational divinity that doesn't explain anything."

    Odifreddi, for his part, wrote in an accompanying piece Tuesday that he was stunned to have received the letter, though he said he wrote the book precisely in hopes Benedict might read it. He said he sought, and obtained, Benedict's permission to publish the letter.

    He said he planned to re-issue his book with Benedict's letter included: "an unprecedented dialogue between a theologian pope and an atheist mathematician, divided in most everything but drawn together by at least one objective: the search for Truth."


  36. Benedict XVI emerges to defend his record on sexual abuse

    by Eric J. Lyman, Religion News Service September 24, 2013

    ROME (RNS) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, responding to a noted atheist mathematician and philosopher who had criticized his handling of sexual abuse scandals, on Tuesday (Sept. 24) released a long letter that defended his record and criticized the logician’s reasoning.

    Excerpts from the Aug. 30 letter, one of Benedict’s few public statements since resigning on Feb. 28, were published in Tuesday’s editions of La Repubblica, a Rome-based daily newspaper alongside a piece from his critic, Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

    In his response, Benedict wrote, “I never tried to cover these things up.” He added, “That the power of evil has penetrated so far into the world of faith is a suffering we must bear,” while also calling for strong efforts to prevent it from happening again.

    Benedict’s letters were in response to Odifreddi’s 2011 book, “Caro Papa ti scrivo” (Dear Pope, I write you), which was itself a response to an earlier book Benedict wrote. Odifreddi’s book had posed a series of provocative arguments about the sexual abuse scandals gripping the church.

    While remaining cordial and measured throughout the published excerpts, Benedict also criticized what he called Odifreddi’s “religion of math,” calling it “empty.”

    Benedict also disputed the claim that abuse is pervasive in the Catholic Church, noting that “according to research by sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is no higher than those present in other similar professional fields.” Critics, he said, should not “present this deviation as if it were filth pertaining only to Catholicism.”

    In his piece published Tuesday, Odifreddi said he was “stunned” to receive a reply from Benedict, while admitting he had hoped the retired pope would read the book. He said the letters were republished with Benedict’s permission and that his book would be republished with Benedict’s complete response included.

    Prior to his election as pope in 2005, Benedict — then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — was the longtime head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he oversaw the Vatican’s handling of all abuse cases. He was also the first pope to meet with abuse victims.

    The dialogue immediately raised eyebrows among other critics of the Vatican’s handling of the abuse scandals. Minnesota Attorney Jeff Anderson, who has handled numerous abuse suits against the church, called the statements “alarming and disturbing.”

    The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests also criticized Benedict’s record, saying: “The opposite of ‘covering up’ is ‘uncovering’ or ‘disclosing,’” SNAP said in a statement. “We cannot name one predatory bishop, priest, nun, brother or seminarian who was publicly exposed because of Benedict.”


  37. Church ignored priests sex cult


    A CATHOLIC priest created a "cult-like group" of teenage girls, fathering a child with one while telling another girl he was terminally ill and she "needed to have sex with him before he died".

    One of the victims, Joan Isaacs, yesterday told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that her attempts to warn the church about the actions of Frank Derriman were ignored and the priest was able to abuse again.

    Ms Isaacs, who received several standing ovations while giving evidence at the Sydney hearing, is one of more than 2200 alleged child abuse victims to have contacted the Catholic Church.

    The church has paid out more than $43 million in compensation nationwide, the commission heard, but many of the victims felt they had been mistreated during the church's "Towards Healing" process for dealing with their claims.

    Over two years during the 1960s, Ms Isaacs was part of a "cult-like group which included myself and three other children" that Derriman named after the Peanuts comic-strip and whom he regularly abused.

    The Brisbane-based priest left letters for Ms Isaacs, who was aged about 14 at the time, inside her school desk and "on a number of occasions he told me that I needed to have sex with him before he died".

    "(He told me) if I loved god it would be OK to have sex with him because he was god's representative," she told the commission.

    Ms Isaacs, a retired schoolteacher, made a complaint under the Towards Healing process in 1999, shortly after Derriman was convicted of abusing her and sentenced to jail.

    After years of negotiation dominated by the church's insurance company, she was asked to sign a deed of release including a clause "that I was not to discuss the aspect of my abuse with anyone, including my husband and children".

    "I feel that the deed has silenced me in this respect and it continues to haunt me to this day.

    "The silencing holds the same power and control over me that was used by Father Derriman when he abused me as a child."

    Ms Isaacs ultimately received a financial settlement that, after her legal costs, allowed her to buy "$5000 worth of Coles-Myer shares and a sewing machine", the commission heard.

    Derriman, who remained a priest until at least 2011, retired from active ministry in 1970 and moved to Ballarat, where he became a social worker and university teacher. He is still alive.

    More than 2200 people have made complaints of abuse to the Catholic Church since Towards Healing was established in 1996, the commission heard, three-quarters of which relate to child sex abuse allegedly committed between 1950 and 1980.

    The full number of victims was likely to be higher, the commission heard, as the Archdiocese of Melbourne operated a separate scheme, while the church's own Towards Healing records were inconsistent and incomplete.

    The church's barrister, Peter Gray SC, said the hearing represented "a searing and decisive moment in the history of the Catholic Church".

    "The church is deeply sorry. It apologises to all those who have been harmed and betrayed. It humbly asks for forgiveness."

    His statement was interrupted when several of those listening angrily walked out of the hearing room and began openly weeping outside.


  38. Australian priest first to be excommunicated by Pope Francis

    Accused of heresy, throwing away consecrated host, speaking against church

    Irish Times September 26, 2013

    An Australian Catholic priest Fr Greg Reynolds (60) has been excommunicated by Pope Francis because of his views on women priests. It is understood to be the first excommunication of any kind to take place under this Pope since he assumed office last March.

    In a letter the Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart said “the decision by Pope Francis to dismiss Fr Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the Church and his public celebration of the Eucharist when he did not hold faculties to act publicly as a priest.”

    Fr Reynolds told the US National Catholic Reporter (NCR) website he believed the excommunication also resulted from his support for the gay community. He told NCR that in the last two years, he has attended rallies in Melbourne advocating same-sex marriage and has officiated at mass weddings of gay couples on the steps of Parliament, “all unofficial of course.”

    He continued, concerning Pope Francis, “I am very surprised that this order has come under his watch; it seems so inconsistent with everything else he has said and done.”

    A letter from Archbishop Hart to the other priests in the archdiocese explained that Fr Reynolds’ his excommunication was “because of his public teaching on the ordination of women.” Ordaining, supporting, or becoming a female priest has been explicitly grounds for automatic excommunication since at least 2008, following a declaration by Pope Benedict.

    Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that his beliefs on the subject are aligned with that declaration.

    He did not address the issue in his interview last week with Jesuit publications.

    In November 2010 Australian media reported that Fr Reynolds had devoted his homily at three parishes over a weekend the previous September to proclaiming it was God’s will to include women in the priesthood and said denying women the right equalled “obstructing the work of the Holy Spirit.”.

    In August 2011 Fr Reynolds resigned his position as pastor of two rural parishes and Archbishop Hart subsequently removed his priestly faculties. Fr Reynolds went on to found Inclusive Catholics as a way “to minister to and with Catholic people who share” his beliefs on women’s ordination and homosexuality, according to the Inclusive Catholics website. He also continued to say Masses and celebrate the Eucharist.

    In August 2012 he he was involved in controversy when it was reported in Australian media that a dog had received Communion at a recent service. Fr Reynolds said at the time he was not aware of the incident with the dog during the liturgy and only learned of it later.

    In a letter of August 10th 2012 Archbishop Hart wrote to him saying “as your statements and actions are inconsistent of your resignation from active priestly ministry and the consequent suspension of your faculties to act publicly as a priest, I am forced to warn you that if this stance continues, I will be forced to take further canonical action for the good of the Church.”

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  39. The following month, September 2012, Archbishop Hart said he would initiate canon law proceedings against Reynolds for his dismissal from the clerical state.

    However the Archdoicese has since said this did not happen but that unknown people had contacted the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which then requested Fr Reynolds’ file from Archbishop Hart.

    The excommunication letter from the CDF, dated May 31st but not presented to Fr Reynolds until September 18th last, accused him of heresy and determined he had incurred latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication for throwing away the consecrated host or retaining it “for a sacrilegious purpose” It also referred to his speaking publicly against church teaching.

    It read “Pope Francis, Supreme Pontiff having heard the presentation of this Congregation concerning the grave reason for action ... of [Fr Greg Reynolds] of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, all the preceding actions to be taken having been followed, with a final and unappealable decision and subject to no recourse, has decreed dismissal from the clerical state is to be imposed on said priest for the good of the Church,” and was signed by Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect for the CDF.

    In an impromptu press conference on July 28th last, aboard the papal plane on his return to Rome from World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis said, “on the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and said no. Pope John Paul II, in a definitive formulation, said that door is closed.”

    Meanwhile the Jesuit America magazine has apologised for accidentally omitting an sentence from its translation (from the Italian) of Pope Francis’s comments on women in the 12,000 word interview published last week.

    It has pointed out that when the Pope was asked ‘What should be the role of women in the church?”, he began his reply with, “’It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church.” This sentence, America said was left out of its English translation of the interview.

    What the Pope actually said then was “‘It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church. I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of f ‘female machismo,’ because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo. Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role.”

    He continued “The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.
    Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.”


  40. No-one has done more than Church against sex abuse: Pope

    Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying "no-one else has done more" to root out paedophilia.

    "The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No-one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked," he said in an interview with Il Corriere della Sera daily published Wednesday.

    Last month, the United Nations denounced the Vatican for failing to stamp out child abuse and allowing systematic cover-ups, calling on the Church to remove clergy suspected of raping or molesting children.

    It accused the Vatican of systematically placing the "preservation of the reputation of the Church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims" -- an accusation which was heatedly rebuffed.

    The Argentine pontiff, who will celebrate the one-year anniversary of his election on March 13, said in the interview that the abuse cases "are terrible because they leave very deep wounds."

    "The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also clearly show that the great majority of abuses are carried out in family or neighbourhood environments," he said.

    Francis praised his predecessor Benedict XVI -- the first pope to apologise to abuse victims -- saying he had been "very courageous and opened up a path" to changing the Church's attitude towards predatory priests.

    Francis himself has said Catholics should feel "shame" for abuse. In December he created a commission to investigate sex crimes, enforce prevention and care for victims.



    Francis: the Pope is “a normal person”, not Superman

    In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis says he is a normal person, not superman, and speaks about the family, child abuse, foreign trips, relations with the Orthodox, China, and how he governs the Church


    read the article at: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/francesco-francis-francisco-32502/

  41. Pope Francis criticized for defensive comments on abuse scandal

    by David Gibson | Religion News Service March 6, 2014

    (RNS) The Vatican is trying to reassure Catholics and the public that Pope Francis takes the clerical sex abuse crisis seriously in the wake of defensive comments Francis made this week, the first serious bump in the road for a pope approaching the first anniversary of his election with sky-high approval ratings.

    In an interview published Wednesday (March 5) with an Italian newspaper, Francis was asked about the scandal that has shaken the faith of many Catholics, especially in the U.S., and why he hasn’t fought back against criticisms of the church’s record.

    Francis began by acknowledging that “the cases of abuse are terrible because they leave very profound wounds,” but he then shifted to praise the policies on abuse instituted by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, while asserting that the Catholic Church has “advanced a lot, perhaps more than anyone” in battling the sexual abuse of children.

    “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility,” the pope continued, arguing that most abuse occurs in the home or other community environments. “No one else did as much. And yet, the church is the only one being attacked.”

    That prompted a torrent of criticism from victims advocates and others who noted that Francis did not apologize for the abuse, has not disciplined any bishops who covered up for abusers and has yet to meet with any abuse victims or name any members to a commission he promised to establish three months ago.

    “His comments reflect an archaic, defensive mindset,” said Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

    “He is triumphalist about clergy abuse of children and silent about the complicity of bishops,” said Terence McKiernan, head of BishopAccountability.org.

    “Hearing the Pope use the abuse-occurs-elsewhere excuse is truly disheartening,” said the U.S.-based church reform group Voice of the Faithful, echoing a sense of disappointment among many Catholics who hoped the pope’s pledges and moves to reform the church on many levels would extend to an examination of conscience on clergy abuse.

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  42. A Pew Research Center survey of American Catholics last year showed that 70 percent thought addressing abuse should be the top priority for the new pope, but in a follow-up report released this week only 54 percent gave Francis high marks for addressing it.

    Vatican officials seem to be aware of the danger the crisis poses for Francis. The pope’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, sent an email to The Associated Press saying it was taking time to set up the abuse commission in part because the pontiff was busy with other reforms. But he said that experts had been contacted to check their availability and that this remained a priority for Francis.

    “I’m waiting for it (the commission),” Lombardi wrote. “And I hope that the commission will also be able to propose to the pope initiatives adapted to give a true broad impulse in the church for the active protection of minors.”

    Apparently referring to a United Nations report last month that was sharply critical of the Vatican’s record on abuse — but which itself was widely criticized for exaggerated claims and overstepping its mandate — Lombardi said the pope was pointing out that the Vatican’s efforts have “not been recognized objectively.”

    “At the same time,” Lombardi added, “it is clear that there is still an immense task to do for the past, for the present and, even more so, for the future. The pope knows this well.”

    Some critics held out hope that Francis would act soon and that the penitential season of Lent would be a spur.

    The editors of National Catholic Reporter wrote an open letter to the pope Thursday (March 6) recalling that Francis captivated the public shortly after his election when he broke with tradition by going to a youth detention center for a Holy Thursday ritual before Easter, at which he washed the feet of a dozen young people, including two women and a Muslim.

    “We implore you to turn the world’s focus this Holy Thursday on a healing service for victims of sexual abuse by priests,” the editors wrote. “Listen to their stories. Wash their feet.”


  43. Child sex abuse inquiry

    Cardinal George Pell tried to bribe victim of paedophile to stay quiet, royal commission hears

    By Danny Tran and Loretta Florance, ABC News Australia May 20, 2015

    Cardinal George Pell tried to bribe the nephew of paedophile Gerald Ridsdale to stay quiet about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his uncle, an inquiry has been told.

    Justice Peter McClellan said Cardinal Pell would be called on by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to make a statement about the Catholic Church's response to alleged abuse.

    David Ridsdale, the nephew of Ridsdale, told the inquiry hearings in Ballarat that he reported the abuse by his uncle to Cardinal Pell in 1993.

    He said Cardinal Pell was not shocked and instead allegedly asked Mr Ridsdale what it would take for him to stay quiet.

    "George then began to talk about my growing family and my need to take care of their needs. He mentioned how I would soon have to buy a car or house for my family," he said.

    "I remember with clarity the last three lines we spoke together.

    "Me: Excuse me, George, what the fuck are you talking about?

    "George: I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.

    "Me: Fuck you, George, and everything you stand for."

    Mr Ridsdale said after he rejected the offer, he hung up.

    "After I spoke to my sisters, I was furious at George's response and I decided to call the police," Mr Ridsdale said.

    "I rang the Bentleigh police station and they said someone would return my call ... about an hour later, the police returned my call and said: 'Are you aware your uncle was to be charged later today?'"

    He said he was not, and later the police took him to the station for a long and "ultra-specific" interview about the abuse he had suffered.

    Gerald Ridsdale was charged the following day with indecently assaulting David Ridsdale and several other boys.

    The lawyer representing the Catholic Church's witnesses at the royal commission disputed claims that Cardinal Pell tried to bribe Mr Ridsdale.

    Peter Gray SC said the cardinal had a different memory of the conversation.

    Mr Gray said the cardinal would make a submission if asked.

    "If and when the commission asks the cardinal to provide a statement ... I expect he will say the same thing," Mr Gray said.

    Another survivor, Timothy Green, told the royal commission that the cardinal was dismissive when he reported that Brother Edward Dowlan was abusing boys at St Patricks College in Ballarat.

    "He said 'don't be ridiculous'," Mr Green said.

    "Father Pell didn't ask any questions, he didn't ask 'what do you mean?' or 'how could you say that?'

    "He just dismissed it and walked out. His reaction gave me the impression that he knew about Brother Dowlan, but couldn't or wouldn't do anything about it."

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  44. Cardinal Pell who was an assistant priest in Ballarat East from 1973 to 1983, later became Archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney and now oversees the Vatican's finances.

    He has previously confirmed accompanying Ridsdale to his court hearings in 1993, saying he did not realise at the time the impression this would give to victims.

    Justice McClellan told Mr Gray that the evidence heard had raised "serious questions" about the church's response to child sex abuse.

    "There must be no misunderstanding about this, these are significant and serious questions as to the way your client has responded to the allegations," he said.

    David Ridsdale describes years of sexual abuse

    David Ridsdale described years of abuse at the hands of his uncle, beginning when David was 11 years old, at a parishioner's farm in Edenhope during the school holidays.

    "After that, Gerald took every opportunity to initiate sexual interaction with me," he said.

    "He mainly abused me during school holidays or on weekends. Initially it was masturbation and then kissing and then oral sex.

    "I remember the first time we were in the bush somewhere and he tried to make me perform oral sex and I gagged.

    "He used to get angry if I couldn't perform the way he wanted. He never fully anally penetrated me despite trying many times."

    He said the abuse continued until he was 15 years old.

    Mr Ridsdale said the "charismatic" priest was the "shining light on my father's side of the family".

    "I believe he represented the pinnacle for [my paternal grandmother's] Catholic achievement," he said.

    "As a priest, Gerald held an almost supernatural level of power in our family and exerted a great deal of control over the family.

    "He was treated as being better than his siblings and took almost full advantage of his exalted status."

    He told the commission that Ridsdale once brought a boy to his grandparents' house, when he was a priest in Mortlake, as the boy's parents were going through a divorce.

    "I remember that while we were at my grandparents' home Gerald stood the boy on the table and was giving him Eskimo kisses and kissing him inappropriately in front of the members of the family who were present," he said.

    "I cannot recall exactly who was there, but it was more than just my immediate family.

    "I remember being disturbed that nobody said anything to Gerald at the time.

    "I remember as my parents were driving home from my grandparents' house, someone commented that Gerald's behaviour with the boy was weird. Nothing else was said."

    Call for Cardinal Pell to apologise

    Another witness appearing at the Royal Commission has also called on Cardinal Pell to apologise to victims.

    The man, who cannot be named, was abused by a member of the clergy while he was at St Alipius Primary School.

    He told the royal commission that Cardinal Pell should acknowledge the abuse that went on under his watch.

    "I would also like Cardinal George Pell to publicly acknowledge that child sexual abuse was committed by clergy and Brothers under his watch as the parish priest in Ballarat East," he said.

    "I would like him to apologise for this."