Christian Rape-A-Babe News!

News and Views about catholic clergy sexual abuse and related issues
Why only terrorists? Hang Catholic Rapist Priests too, deliver justice!

This would only be in line with their own hocus-pocus teachings.The catholic Church has continuously investigated sexual abuse and procedures by their own ilk, since the Council of Elvira in 309 C.E. and has nevertheless indulged in these crimes ever since, for nearly 2000 Years.If we now start to believe or trust, liars, criminals, cheats and deceivers, we have only ourselves to blame.

They lie in the name of their 'Lord',
let us speak out in the name of TRUTH
Catholic clergy Bible thumpers having trouble remembering
Let us tell them

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Survivors had choice of cops or cash: inquiry

ARCHIVES: Shine the Light - The Inquiry
SURVIVORS of child sexual abuse by priests were only offered "healing" - including a financial settlement - if they signed a statement saying they were not going to the police, the Special Commission of Inquiry has heard.
Helen Keevers, a founding manager until 2009 of sex abuse survivors' centre Zimmerman House, said this was her understanding of the Church's practices when she began helping Bishop Michael Malone after the Jim Fletcher case in 2003.
Ms Keevers said there was little chance for her to look at historical files of child sexual abuse because her unit was "inundated" with complaints about existing priests.
She said complaints were laid against seven priests of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, with four individuals subsequently convicted.
She did say, however, that the "bad" file of serial paedophile Denis McAlinden - which a number of senior diocese clergy could not recall seeing - was in an A4 folder and "about three or four inches thick".
A counsel assisting the inquiry, Warwick Hunt, asked Ms Keevers if she understood it to be an "either/or" situation in that people could either go to the police or register for Towards Healing but "they could not do both".
"That's definitely how I understood it," Ms Keevers said.


Pope Francis - a wolf in sheeps clothing

Lately there has been an astounding PR campaign from the pontiff in order to claw back some of the Catholics who have begun to become disillusioned with their faith. While on the surface it appears to be a loving and inclusive doctrine, below the surface lies a hidden and immoral truth. I find this so repulsive, that it astounds me that so many people do not realise the Pope is peddling his message of lies, without notice.
The facts: So far we have seen the Pope declare seemingly that Homosexuality isn’t so bad with his famous quote “Who am I to Judge?” and that atheists can go to heaven with the paraphrased "Being an Atheist is alright as long as you do good”. In addition, how could we fail to forget his instance of carrying his own bag while travelling and his simple choice of clothing - shunning the fine raiment traditionally worn?
Who could hate such an accepting and revolutionary voice, so badly needed in the Vatican? We see people falling over themselves in an almost worship of this divine entity challenging false doctrine and commanding the perfect word of God. Big mistake. Big, big, mistake.



Catholic church laws dating back to the institution's inception no longer protect priests from civil and criminal law, a NSW inquiry has heard.
Nor does the church's canon law prevent sexual abuse allegations from being reported to police or condone the destruction of incriminating evidence, the special commission of inquiry being held in Newcastle heard on Wednesday.
The inquiry headed by Commissioner Margaret Cunneen is investigating claims by police whistleblower Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox that child sexual abuse allegations against Hunter Valley priests Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher were covered up by church leaders who were aided by a "Catholic mafia" within the police force.
Canon law expert and a former priest with the Sydney archdiocese, Dr Rodger Austin, said canon law that once afforded priests some protection from secular laws was superseded by new church codes in 1983.


Evidence uncovered in church archive about paedophile priest

The former head of the Catholic Church's child protection unit says she uncovered evidence about a Hunter Valley paedophile priest after being given access to the Church's archives.
Helen Keevers was the manager of Zimmerman House which was set up to make it easier for abuse victims to come forward.
She has given evidence at the inquiry into claims the Church covered up abuse by two Maitland-Newcastle priests, Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher.
She told the Special Commission it was not particularly respectful but the priests' confidential files were affectionately known as the 'bad files'.
Ms Keevers said the former bishop, Michael Malone, made it clear she could have access to any relevant documents she wanted, and he wrote a letter to strike force detectives stating they did not need a warrant and were welcome in the diocese at any time.


Scottish Catholic Church abuse probe spreads to Australia with two monks implicated

A PROBE into claims of serious physical and sexual abuse at some of Scotland's most prestige Catholic boarding schools has moved to Australia with at least two Aussie monks implicated in the scandal.
And in an unfortunate twist, some of their victims who left Scotland to get away from the memories recently discovered they unwittingly had relocated to the same Australian cities as their former tormentors.
An investigation by the BBC has found systemic abuse and cover up at several Scottish boarding schools and in particular abuse by seven monks in the 1950s, '60s and '70s including Australian priest Father Aidan Duggan who allegedly abused five boys.
Fr Duggan returned to Sydney in 1974 and became a parish priest in Bass Hill after claims against him were made to his Benedictine order in Scotland. He died in 2004, but there is now evidence the claims were known but covered up by the church in the UK.
A second monk from Australia, now aged in his 70s, also allegedly abused boys in Scotland before his order sent him home to Australia as boys began to speak out. That priest has declined to comment.


Survivors paid silent price for 'healing': inquiry

SURVIVORS of clerical child sexual abuse were only offered ‘‘healing’’ – including the chance of financial settlements – if they signed a statement saying they were not going to the police, the Special Commission of Inquiry has heard.
Helen Keevers, who was chosen by Bishop Michael Malone to bolster the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s response to child sexual abuse by clergy, has given evidence on Wednesday about her time with the church, which ran from 1978 to 2009.
A counsel assisting the inquiry, Warwick Hunt, took Ms Keevers to a section in her statement – which was tendered and is likely to be made public later today – that related to changes to the church’s Towards Healing policy dating from 2003.
Previous church figures have given evidence to the inquiry that the church would not undertake its own investigation of child sexual abuse allegations against its clergy if the complainant had gone to police.


'Outsider' called in to help church deal with abuse claims

The former head of the Catholic Church's child protection unit in the Hunter Valley says the bishop was keen to get advice from outside of the diocese.
Helen Keevers is giving evidence at the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating claims the church covered up abuse by paedophile priests James Fletcher and Denis McAlinden.
Ms Keevers used to be the manager of Zimmerman house, set up to make it easier for abuse victims to come forward.
She has told the inquiry during her four years as manager her team investigated seven members of clergy, four of which resulted in criminal prosecution.
Ms Keevers said the bishop at the time Michael Malone was "deeply affected" by his "inappropriate decision making during the Fletcher matter".
She said those major mistakes meant he honestly wanted completely independent advice separate from the church.


Church welfare agency inundated by survivors of sexual abuse: inquiry

HELEN Keevers, the founding manager of Zimmerman House, has given an "outsider's" perspective of dealing with clerical child sex abuse in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
Ms Keevers, a university qualified social worker, was giving evidence to the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle on Wednesday.
Ms Keevers said she was asked by Bishop Michael Malone to move from the church's welfare agency, Centacare, to work on the diocese's responses to clerical child sexual abuse after the conviction of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher.
Ms Keevers said that once she started work in the role in 2004, her unit Zimmerman House was "inundated" with complaints from survivors.
In a short space of time allegations had been made against seven current priests of the diocese, with subsequent convictions against four of these individuals.
Taken through her statement to the commission by a counsel assisting, Warwick Hunt, Ms Keevers spoke of being the only person in a group dealing with clerical sexual abuse who was not a devout practising Catholic.
She said Bishop Malone was a good man who admitted to making major mistakes in his dealings with Fletcher and another serial paedophile, Denis McAlinden.
She said that Bishop Malone was criticised externally early on for his handling of clerical child sex abuse.
He was then criticised internally when he began to move more strongly against it.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Principal knew of paedophile allegation: inquiry

ARCHIVE: Shine the Light - The Inquiry
THE principal of two schools where paedophile priest Jim Fletcher was a regular visitor has admitted to knowing of an allegation against him nine months before his arrest in March 2003.
Will Callinan, who is still the principal at the Branxton and Greta Catholic schools, agreed he had done nothing to restrict Fletcher's access to children or to alert the authorities, but said it was not his place to do it.
"As far as the Church was concerned if Father Fletcher had posed a risk to children in their wisdom I am sure they would have stepped him down," Mr Callinan said.
In previous evidence to the Special Commission of Inquiry sitting in Newcastle, the bishop of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese at the time of the Fletcher affair, Michael Malone, said he had spoken to Mr Callinan in the months before Fletcher was arrested.
Mr Callinan had been expected to contest this evidence, and he did so, insisting repeatedly under questioning from Bishop Malone's counsel, Simon Harben, that the bishop had not spoken to him as he claimed.
But it was Mr Harben's forensic examination of Mr Callinan's knowledge at the time of the Fletcher matter that turned one of the final days of the inquiry into arguably the most compelling courtroom drama seen so far.


Victims encouraged to tell police of abuse

A man whose job it was to pass on to police complaints about paedophilia in the Catholic Maitland-Newcastle Diocese says he didn't have enough information.

The former director of the Catholic Church’s professional standards office, who was charged with passing on complaints of paedophilia by ­clergy to police, said he did not believe he was equipped with enough information to recommend priest James Fletcher be stood down when allegations were made against him in 2002.
John Daveron, director of the office from 1997 until 2003, told the special commission of inquiry he could not act because no formal complaint had been made against Fletcher.
Mr Daveron said he did speak with the victim’s mother about her son’s allegations and was aware Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox was involved.
“I would feel it would be beyond my competency to recommend Fletcher be stood down,” Mr Daveron said.
He explained the complaints process would first require a victim to make a complaint; a statement would be taken and referred to him and he would make notes which he would then pass on to the bishop, who would make a determination about whether or not to go to police.
Mr Daveron said he would always encourage victims to report abuse matters to police.


School principal rejects bishop’s testimony

A Greta-Branxton Catholic school principal has rejected former Maitland-Newcastle Diocese bishop Michael Malone’s account of a 2002 meeting in which the bishop claimed he warned the principal to keep parish priest James Fletcher away from ­students.
William Callinan told the special commission of inquiry into alleged cover-ups of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, that he first heard of the alleged meeting when Bishop Malone called him “out of the blue” in March 2003.
The principal said Bishop Malone told him Fletcher should have been stood down earlier, that they (Callinan and the bishop) made a decision together in 2002 to keep Fletcher in the parish and instructed him to tell people Fletcher was sick and about to be stood down.
“I was in disbelief – I could not recall any conversation we had previously on the Fletcher situation ... I think I would have remembered it because it’s not often a bishop visits you,” Mr Callinan told the inquiry.
He said it was his regular practise to write names in his desk diary and there was no record of a meeting at the school with Bishop Malone in March.


Show tackles child safety

A PROGRAM that teaches children how to stay safe in a variety of situations has been rolled out to 300,000 children throughout Australia -- and the latest to benefit were students from Rokeby's John Paul II school.
The Ditto's Keep Safe Adventure show is a 40-minute live production tailored to children aged from three to eight that teaches strategies and skills to stay safe in a range of situations, from sexual assault to bullying.
Bravehearts Tasmania state manager Janelle Larkin recognised the 300,000 milestone as significant but said Tasmania had a long way to go in the prevention of child sexual assault.
"Bravehearts is slowly but surely bringing this once taboo subject out of the dark and shining light on it," she said.
Ms Larkin congratulated Principal Jim Ireland and the staff at John Paul II Rokeby for being proactive when it came to educating students about personal safety.


Christian programs attempting to convert homosexuals continue in Australia

The ABC has discovered the fundamentalist practice of trying to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality is continuing in Australia with tragic results.
While the leading ex-gay therapy organisation in the United States recently renounced its practices, and , some Australian churches believe gay Christians need to invite the Holy Spirit to convert them to being straight.
At Ramsgate Community Church in Sydney's south, Reverend Ron Brookman believes he is helping to save souls.
He is the director of Living Waters, a group that says it helps to heal people's sexuality.
Reverend Brookman, who tells Christians that being gay is a sin, was himself leading a double life as a gay man and a Uniting Church minister.
"I've struggled since I was 11 with homosexuality. I was just overwhelmed with lust, with homosexual fantasy," he told ABC's 7.30.
"I underwent a substantial change there that freed me from the secret life and I found a change in my heart and a swing away from my being attracted to men to actually becoming attracted to women, and one particular woman in particular who is now my wife and the mother of my children and, yeah, there's a beautiful transformation."
Reverend Brookman uses terms such as sin, pointless, superficial and immoral when describing homosexuality.
When asked if that is judgmental he disagrees.


Retired priest investigated over sex abuse

A retired Sydney priest is being investigated by police following reports he sexually abused a child while teaching at a Catholic boarding school in Scotland in the 1970s.

Father Denis Alexander is one of two Australian monks named in a BBC documentary that examined alleged abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands.
The Archdiocese of Sydney has confirmed that it was informed in March that Scottish police were investigating allegations against Fr Alexander.
A Catholic Church spokesman says he was immediately suspended from the church and police were notified.
"On 31 May Fr Alexander's faculties to publicly minister as a priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney were withdrawn, pending the outcome of any inquiries," the spokeswoman said.


How Religious Indoctrination Enables Clergy Abuse

This will be a short post because I really just want to highlight something I read at Bitchspot, which I think is important. Cephus (Bitchspot) has been writing a weekly series of "Horror Show Sunday" posts in which he focuses on some of the worst religion has to offer. In today's installment, Horror Show Sunday: Take Those Little Girls Home, he tells us about Nigerian pastor Fidelis Eze and how he has admitted taking two 11 year-old girls home and having sex with them. Pastor Eze first claimed that the 11 year-olds consented to sex. When police did not buy that, he claimed he was possessed by evil spirits.

The part I want to highlight is what Cephus had to say to those who complain that it is unfair for him to pick on clergy. As someone who addressed clergy abuse, I've certainly received this same complaint. It usually goes something like this: "People in many professions abuse children, so why do you focus on clergy as if it is somehow worse when they do it?" Well, because it is worse when they do it.

Cephus provides three reasons why it makes sense to consider clergy abuse as a special category:

  1. The clergy is taught to be respected across wide swaths of American life, parents teach their children to listen to, respect and obey their priests and ministers and to turn to them in moments of crisis, both religious and physical. True, this respect and obedience also extends to a select few other occupations like police, firefighters and teachers, but they do not share other detrimental aspects.
  2. The clergy has unfettered access to children at virtually all times. Parents trust and respect the clergy to do what is in their children’s best interests and have little problem leaving their children in the care of men of the cloth, even in situations that they’d be uncomfortable leaving them with other professions. Teachers may have some access to children, but usually only in controlled conditions and rarely in very private situations where abuse can occur.
  3. Finally, the clergy has a particular hold over the minds of children, whereas a teacher or a police officer can offer an earthly threat to a child should they disobey, a priest or a minister can offer a heavenly one. Clergy are often looked upon as being closer to God and thus, having in “in” with the almighty. A cop can out you in jail, a teacher can give you detention, many people look upon the clergy as people who can see to it you’re sent into eternal perdition. That’s a powerful incentive to not only comply with a minister’s wishes, no matter what they want to do, but also to keep quiet about the whole situation after the fact.

Principal not told about Catholic abuse

A pedophile priest continued to teach reading at a Hunter Valley Catholic primary school for nine months despite church leaders knowing he was under police investigation, an inquiry has been told.
Will Callinan - the principal of Saint Brigids Primary, Branxton, and Saint Mary's, at Greta - made the claim before a special NSW commission of inquiry on Tuesday.
He said police told Maitland/Newcastle diocese Bishop Michael Malone in June 2002 that Father James Fletcher was the subject of child sex abuse investigations, but the bishop did not tell him about the allegations until March 2003, just before charges were laid.
He said he had heard a rumour from someone he could not remember in early June 2002 that Fletcher was being investigated.


Inquiry: McAlinden report 'sent to police'

 THE former head of a Catholic Church unit set up to handle complaints of clerical child sexual abuse has ‘‘categorically’’ denied not sending a 1999 complaint form about serial paedophile Denis McAlinden to the police.
John Davoren, director of the church’s Professional Standards Office from its inception in 1997 until 2003, was questioned on Tuesday at the Special Commission of Inquiry sitting in Newcastle.
After giving evidence-in-chief before senior counsel assisting the inquiry, Julia Lonergan, Mr Davoren was cross-examined by various counsel including Wayne Roser for the NSW Police.
Mr Roser put it to Mr Davoren that a clerical child sexual abuse form filled out in his name in relation to McAlinden was not sent to the police.
‘‘I categorically deny that,’’ Mr Davoren said.
Mr Davoren has said he has no independent recall of dealing with the McAlinden matter or the case involving another serial paedophile, Jim Fletcher, which was triggered by a complaint by victim AH.


Two Australian monks accused of sex abuse at Scottish Catholic boarding school

An investigation is underway into a retired Australian priest who is alleged to have sexually abused a student at a Scottish Catholic boarding school.
Father Denis Alexander has been identified in a BBC documentary as one of two Australian monks who allegedly abused pupils at Fort Augustus Abbey School in the Highlands.
The Catholic Church in Australia has confirmed a police investigation into the former priest, who is now living in Sydney, is underway.
But the church has not confirmed the nature of the allegations.
The BBC investigation outlines an allegation from a former student who says he was abused by Fr Denis, then known as Fr Chrysostom, in 1977.


Inquiry: Davoren cross examined

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry     
John Davoren of the Catholic church’s Professional Standards Office has come under intense cross examination by counsel for the police force Wayne Roser.
 At the special commission of inquiry in Newcastle on Tuesday morning, Mr Roser took Mr Davoren through a series of documents prepared in conjunction with complaints against serial paedophile the late Denis McAlinden.
Mr Davoren accepted that complaints were made to the church about McAlinden before 1997 but he had no knowledge of events that took place before he started his job in that year.
 Showing Mr Davoren a complaint form filled out in relation to McAlinden, Mr Roser suggested the form was never sent to police.
"I categorically deny that," Mr Davoren said.
Tuesday’s hearings continue.


Catholic priest charged over child pornography after raid on presbytery

A Catholic Priest has been charged with child pornography offences after a raid of a Sydney presbytery.
Detectives from the Sex Crimes Squad's Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) went to the presbytery on Monday morning at about 10:45am with a search warrant.
They arrested the 56-year-old man and seized computers and storage devices for examination.
The priest was taken to The Rocks Police Station and charged with four counts of using a carriage service for child pornography.
He was granted strict bail to appear in court next month.
The CEIU is targeting internet child pornography as part of Strike Force Trawler.
Police say anyone with information about such crimes should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


Monday, 29 July 2013

Former head of Catholic Church's Professional Standards Office continues evidence

The former head of the Catholic Church's Professional Standards Office has told an inquiry into Hunter Valley sexual abuse people are encouraged to take allegations against clergy to police.
John Davoren is a former priest and social worker.
In the 1990s he was in charge of the church's Professional Standards Office in NSW, which in 1996 developed the policy document 'Towards Healing' in response to its poor handling of sexual abuse complaints.
Mr Davoren will this morning continue giving evidence at the inquiry which is investigating claims the church covered up abuse by two priests.
Late yesterday he told the commission people who came forward with sexual abuse allegations against a priest were "encouraged to go to police".
When counsel assisting asked him whether it was appropriate for a religious nun to provide counselling to a victim, he conceded it was "a mistake in hindsight".
Catholic school principal William Callinan will also give evidence today.


Inquiry: Police told McAlinden 'could not access children'

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry     
A CHURCH employee in charge of handling child sexual abuse matters told police Denis McAlinden could not access children because he was no longer a priest, the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle has heard.
John Davoren, who ran the church’s Professional Standards Office from the time it was set up in 1997, was being taken through some correspondence on the file of serial paedophile the late Denis McAlinden by senior counsel assisting the inquiry, Julia Lonergan.
Mr Davoren, a former priest, was being asked about a 1999 form filled out to police that asked whether the person concerned had access to children.
Mr Davoren had answered ‘‘not as far as I know’’.
When Ms Lonergan asked why he had answered this way, he said because McAlinden’s faculties had been stripped from in 1993 meaning he ‘‘couldn’t be a priest anywhere in the world’’.
Mr Davoren is scheduled to resume giving evidence on Tuesday morning but in his time in the witness box on Monday afternoon he was also asked about complaints made against McAlinden by three victims known as AE and AC and AL.


Magdalene survivor’s fury at nuns resisting redress

A FURIOUS survivor has hit out at the religious orders that ran brutal Magdalene Laundries for failing to take immediate action and contribute to the Irish Government’s £50m redress scheme.
Despite being pressured by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to contribute financially to the scheme announced last month, the four religious orders that ran the laundries have not decided whether they will do so, The Irish Post has learned.
Kathleen Legg, a Bournemouth-based survivor who spent three years in a laundry, said: “I am happy with what I will be getting, but I am very angry that it looks like the Irish Government will have to pay the money when really it should be coming from the nuns.
“I will be so angry if the nuns are allowed to get off scot free. The money definitely should not be coming from the Government, depriving Irish people.”


'Bad' files kept on pedophile priests

"Good" and "bad" personnel files were kept on Hunter Valley Catholic priests, a special NSW commission of inquiry into pedophile activity has heard.
This has been disclosed by Elizabeth Doyle, appointed as secretary to Bishop Leo Clarke in 1993. She retained the position for two subsequent bishops, Michael Malone and the current Bill Wright.
Addressing the inquiry on Monday, Ms Doyle said the term "bad" files referred to confidential or "special issues" files that contained documents relating to all kinds of misconduct matters, including child sexual abuse.
She said she was unaware of "bad" files during her first two years in the job, but if they existed they would probably have been kept in Bishop Clarke's upstairs office at the Maitland/Newcastle diocese headquarters.


Priest denies hearing abuse claim: inquiry

A Hunter Valley Catholic priest has denied hearing a former altar boy yelling outside his presbytery in the late 1990s about the "filthy things that priests do to boys".
Appearing before a special NSW commission of inquiry on Monday, Father Bob Searle's recollection of the incident contradicted evidence given during the past few weeks by the boy's mother and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox.
Fr Searle says the only thing he can recall the boy saying is "nobody loves me, nobody loves me".
"He was a bit incoherent," Fr Searle told the inquiry.
"He was clearly upset, he had a beer bottle in his hand and was clearly intoxicated because he was swaying."
In evidence earlier this month, Chief Insp Fox - who arranged for the boy to make a police statement for a prosecution case against pedophile priest James Fletcher - gave a conflicting account.


Centres Against Sexual Assault see more clients but miss out on Federal Government funding

SEXUAL assault support centres - including Ringwood East's Centre Against Sexual Assault - are seeing up to 20 per cent more clients due to the Royal Commission but won't be getting any ­extra funding.
The Federal Government recently announced 28 ­organisations across Australia would share in $45 million to support victims of sexual abuse who present to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
But none of the state's Centres Against Sexual Assault received funding, spokeswoman Carolyn Worth said.
"I think there's something quite bizarre about having a specialised service system in Victoria that deals with victims of sexual assault (CASAs) and (the Government) funds relationship agencies (instead)."
Ms Worth said the CASAs had already been working with people presenting at the Royal Commission and she believed further increases would blow out waiting times.
"(The Royal Commission has) increased our referrals 10 to 20 per cent over the past 12 months," she said.


Twitter to simplify the reporting of abusive tweets, after outcry over rape threats

Following outrage in the U.K. over tweets containing threats of rape, the company says a feature designed to make it easier to report abusive tweets when using Twitter on the iPhone will be coming to other platforms.


Mother tells hearing of how a parish spurned her

Suddenly, in the supermarket, friends turned away. One rammed her leg with his trolley. She was dropped without explanation from the volunteer roster for reading Mass and cleaning the parish church and her calls were not returned. The priest Jim Fletcher, a trusted family friend who had visited the family, taking a special interest in her oldest son and his troubles, ceased all contact.
Week in, week out the witness known as BJ has been a diminutive figure at the back of the Newcastle courtroom, listening intently as her family's tragedy wove its way through the evidence at the inquiry into alleged cover-ups of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Hunter region.
Her son, known to the inquiry as AH, had told how sexual abuse by Fletcher from when he was 12 to when he was 18 had stolen the promise of his life. Now it was her turn to speak.
The witness referred to as BJ explained she had been a highly active and devout member of the Dungog parish's Catholic community for 20 years. She ran liturgical groups, took communion to the sick and elderly, taught at the parish school and more. All four sons had been altar boys.
But everything changed from 2001 when AH, then in his 20s, began to disclose what had happened to him.


Abuse inquiry enters 8th week

The inquiry into child sexual abuse in the New South Wales Hunter Valley will hear more evidence from senior Catholic clergy when the public hearings resume this morning.
The inquiry has previously heard a victim of paedophile priest James Fletcher went to a Nelson Bay presbytery drunk and angry, accusing priests of "doing filthy things to little boys".
Peter Fox, the senior policeman who sparked the special commission, said the parish priest at the time, father Bob Searle, told him about the incident but did not include the victim's comments in his official statement.


Priest denies withholding abuse claims from police at NSW Hunter Valley abuse inquiry

A New South Wales Hunter Valley Catholic priest has rejected claims at a public inquiry that he held back information from police because child sexual abuse allegations are "damaging and distasteful".
Father Bob Searle was the parish priest at Nelson Bay, north of Newcastle in the late 1990s.
In giving evidence to a Newcastle inquiry today, he said he remembers a person known as AH, a victim of paedophile priest James Fletcher, coming to the presbytery one night drunk and angry and yelling out 'nobody loves me'.
Police whistleblower Peter Fox has said that, at the time, Father Searle told him AH was also yelling about priests doing filthy things to little boys, but it was not included in his statement to police.


Priest didn't hear accusation of priests doing 'filthy things' to children

A former Nelson Bay priest has denied telling whistleblower Peter Fox that a sexual abuse victim accused priests of doing "filthy things" to children in the 1990s.
Charlestown priest Father Bob Searle was working as the Nelson Bay parish priest in the late 1990s when he said a drunk parishioner came to the presbytery about 7.30pm and yelled: "Nobody loves me".
The man, known as AH who was abused by paedophile priest James Fletcher, read a statutory declaration to the commission of inquiry into alleged cover-ups of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church last week.


INQUIRY: Priest tells of victim's drunken outburst

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry     
Former Nelson Bay parish priest father Robert Searle says the only thing he can remember Jim Fletcher victim AH saying in a drunken outburst was that nobody loved him.
Father Searle was giving evidence on Monday morning at the special commission of inquiry sitting in Newcastle.
In earlier evidence from whistleblowing police officer Peter Fox the commission has heard evidence that AH was yelling about the weird sexual things that priests did to children.
AH's drunken outburst took place in 1998 and a statement that Father Searle gave to police was made during the Fletcher investigation in 2003.
Asked by counsel for Mr Fox, Greg Willis, whether he had held back any detail in his statement Father Searle said he had not.
Father Searle said he had rung AH's father, BI, on the night of the incident but denied a phone call to AH's mother, BJ.
Father Searle was asked whether he was ever concerned that AH's outburst may have been aimed at him.


Sunday, 28 July 2013

IAN KIRKWOOD: Love denied a disaster

AS riveting as the Special Commission of Inquiry into police and Church handling of paedophile priest investigations has been, the one thing that is conspicuous by its absence is any discussion of why we are here in the first place.
In other words, why does this institution - the Catholic Church around the world - have such a problem with paedophilia.
At this point, I can imagine a host of Catholic critics - and perhaps with some secular support - rising to say there is no evidence for this and that child abuse rates are no higher within the Church than without.
But it seems to me - and to more than a few people watching the inquiry, if my casual conversations in the gallery between sessions are any guide - that the Catholic Church does have a unique problem, one thrown up by the very nature of its organisation.
I am not talking about the closed-door world of canon law, although it may be a contributing factor because of the secrecy inherent in its methods and its judgements. Father Brian Lucas finally acknowledged this on Friday under questioning by victim's counsel Maria Gerace about the church's secret processes.


NSW Enquiry – Week’s Preview (Or: The Church’s Last Stand)

The final scheduled week of the NSW government enquiry into cover-ups of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Newcastle-Maitland Catholic church diocese, ends with the “in camera” evidence of Adelaide Archbishop Wilson. We will only know Wilson’s details from what the Commission chooses to release in its report. This, as has been pointed out before, is less than satisfactory.
Most of the week will feature non-clerical employees of the diocese. William Callinan was a school principal. He is the one whose lawyer indicated that his recollection of events was different to that of Bishop Malone. This specifically related to whether or not Malone informed Callinan about the dangers posed by a certain priest. This should be interesting since it will put Bishop Malone’s credibility on the line.


Catholic priests must have sex – Amekudzi

Legal practitioner, Benony Tony Amekudzi of “amicus curiae” fame says the Catholic Church must allow Priests to marry and copulate as a way of stopping the sexual abuse of young boys in the Church.

The Catholic Church has always been engrossed in allegations and accusations of sodomy against some Priests.

Not even the Papacy at the Vatican has been spared the raft of sodomy and sexual abuse allegations.

Mr. Amekudzi told XYZ News in an interview on Saturday July 27, 2013 that he strongly believes doing away with the oath of celibacy in the Catholic Church will go a long way toward ending the sexual abuse cases.

According to him, God gave a “command to man and woman to procreate” and so Catholic Priests and Nuns must be allowed to obey that biblical command.


New sex abuse crisis in Scottish Catholic church

Priest claims he was abused by older cleric, and church is punishing him for speaking out
The Catholic church in Scotland faces a fresh sex-abuse crisis involving some of the country's senior clerics. The Observer has seen documents suggesting a scandal similar to the one that led to the resignation of Cardinal Keith O'Brien as Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews.
As a seminarian, a priest known as "Father Michael", who wishes to remain anonymous while an appeal to Rome is made, said he was sexually assaulted by a parish priest, Father Paul Moore. Father Michael said the church failed to deal appropriately with his complaint over a 17-year period, and that he is now being ousted from the church while, he feels, his abuser is being protected.


Vatican should set example on fighting abuse, O'Malley says

Rio de Janeiro
Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley has spent the last two decades dealing with the church’s sexual abuse scandals, so when he speaks on the subject, people listen – presumably, up to and including Pope Francis himself.
In April, Francis named O’Malley as one of eight cardinals from around the world to help him govern the universal church and to reform the Vatican, in part, perhaps, because of his profile as a reformer on the abuse crisis.
In an interview today, O’Malley acknowledged that so far Francis hasn’t yet really engaged the issue, and suggested two steps he believes the pope could take that would make a difference:
  • Prodding bishops’ conferences from around the world that haven’t yet finished their anti-abuse guidelines, offering whatever resources they need to get the job done.
  • Implementing in the Vatican the same anti-abuse protocols that dioceses and other Catholic venues have adopted, including background checks and screening of all personnel, training in abuse prevention and detection, as well as training in how to handle accusations when they arise and how to conduct outreach to victims. Doing so, he said, would be a “powerful example.”

Cardinal Burke labels social justice Catholics communists

The cardinal who heads the Vatican's Supreme Court has apparently called Catholics who focus on social justice ministry instead of ornate liturgies akin to communists.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a former archbishop of St. Louis known for a preference for Latin Mass and long robes during liturgies, makes the comments in an interview posted Thursday by the Catholic news agency ZENIT.
"Some argue the liturgy is mostly about aesthetics, and not as important as, say, good works done in faith," the interviewer asks Burke. "What is your view of this argument that one often hears?"


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Why Pell Should Return to Australia (Or: HELP!!!!!)

To: His Most Highly Revered and Eminently Adored
The Cardinal George Pell of Australia, D.D., M.Y., G.O.D., I.M.A., T.W.I.T.
The Cardinal’s Suite
Domus Australia, Rome.

Dear Georgie,
Please come home — all is forgiven (just joking!)
Seriously though, things are really bad here at the moment. The NSW enquiry situation is going from bad to worse. Shows what happens if you leave things to mere Bishops. We really do need your input, guidance, wisdom and grace or whatever.
The memory loss thing is getting out of hand. Poor Brian has been caught out again with remembering some things in great detail while having a blank on everything else. It might have been a bit believable with poor old William and his anesthetic excuse, but Brian is being questioned in the media and at the enquiry for his truthfulness on this matter, unrelentingly.
Of course, it did not help things at all when it was revealed that Brian took no notes of meetings, and advised others to do the same. To cap it all off, it did look very much like he was more concerned with protecting priests and the church’s reputation. Even our smart (and expensive!!!!!!!) lawyers could not help out here.


Child Abuse Royal Commission ‘at risk’

Whistleblower and investigator Fiona Barnett writes about her experience before the the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and her concerns regarding its future.
ON 26 JUNE 2013, my husband and I attended a private hearing with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. My pre-submitted statement provided the framework for a two hour interaction.
At the top my agenda was, what I believe to be, a Tweed Shire paedophile ring (as reported on IA last month). I was given sufficient time to present ample documentation supporting my allegations. Mainly, that the NSW Education Department and the NSW Police collaborated to cover-up multiple allegations of child sexual abuse at several local primary and secondary schools.
I emerged from the hearing frustrated, overwhelmed, and a touch disappointed at what I felt was a cathartic yet adversarial process.
Here I explore the key concerns I am left with:

Déjà vu — another Royal Commission

At my hearing, I asked the commissioners what they planned to do differently in order to avoid the pitfalls of the last royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in New South Wales — the failed Wood Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service was sparked by complaints of a paedophile ring in “high places” in Sydney, including established Christian churches, the Department of Children’s  Services, and the NSW Education Department. It was alleged that this paedophile ring was being protected by the NSW Police Service. Based on the subjective opinions of a pro-paedophilia organisation, Commissioner Wood’s 1997 report dismissed the existence of high-end paedophile networks. It concluded that child abuse memories could be artificially created as a result of third person suggestion, and it alleged that victims can not possibly experience dissociation and repression of traumatic memories. Commissioner Wood’s wrongful findings lacked a scientific evidence base, and ignored documented case studies and previous Australian convictions.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Priest’s inability to recall ‘defies belief’: inquiry

Inquiry archive      
 Transcripts of inquiry 
A SENIOR cleric, a victim’s mother and a Taree parish priest gave evidence yesterday to the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle.
The day began with the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Brian Lucas, resuming a period in the witness box begun on Wednesday.
Then a woman known as BJ – the mother of Jim Fletcher victim AH – took the stand, telling in emotional terms of a campaign of ostracisation she said followed her son’s decision to press charges against his long-time tormenter, who was also a close family friend.
The day finished with Taree priest Father Desmond Harrigan, mentioned in evidence given earlier this month by whistleblowing police officer Peter Fox.
After application from Father Harrigan’s counsel, Elizabeth McLaughlin,  Commissioner Margaret Cunneen granted a non-publication order over all of the priest’s  evidence.
As he had previously, Father Lucas said he had very little if any recall of his involvement in early-1990s complaints against serial paedophile the late Denis McAlinden.
Senior counsel assisting the commission Julia Lonergan said  his evidence of recalling  ‘‘nothing’’ of McAlinden ‘‘defies belief’’.
‘‘I find that a very hurtful proposition, I’m very sorry, I find that a very hurtful proposition,’’ Father Lucas responded.


NSW Enquiry, Session 2, Week 4, Day 5 (Or: Even Elephants Can Forget Sometimes)

The NSW Enquiry into child sexual abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church’s Newcastle-Maitland diocese has been told by former Pell media man, Fr. Brian Lucas, that mistakes have been made in the past but things are much better now.
It is assumed that he was referring to the handling of victims’ complaints in a transparent manner, and not just that the cover-ups are better implemented now. Given Lucas’ past actions, one cannot be really sure about this.
Maria Gerace, who is the lawyer representing some of McAlinden’s victims at the inquiry, put to Father Lucas that church protocol in 1993 “was a secret process that dealt with the allegations discreetly” which allowed  ”scandal to be contained in the offices of the church”. Lucas replied: “To some extent, yes. It defies common sense to have the process public.”
Ms Gerace said giving the priests the opportunity to resign and avoid police prosecution “was a great inducement”. Lucas said “in hindsight that might have been erroneous. It might have been better to go to police.”


Busy day at Special Commission of Inquiry

A SENIOR cleric, a victim’s mother and a Taree parish priest gave evidence yesterday to the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle.
The day began with the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Brian Lucas, resuming a period in the witness box begun on Wednesday.
Just before 12.30, a woman known as BJ – the mother of James Fletcher victim AH – took the stand, telling in emotional terms of a campaign of ostracisation she said followed AH’s decision to press charges against his long-time tormenter, who was also a close family friend.
The day finished with Taree priest Father Desmond Harrigan, who was mentioned in earlier evidence this month given by whistleblowing police officer Peter Fox in relation to the Fletcher investigation.
After application from Father Harrigan’s counsel, Elizabeth McLaughlin, supported by various other counsel, commissioner Margaret Cunneen granted a non-publication order over all of Father Harrigan’s evidence, which was given before a gallery of about 50 people.
As he had previously, Father Lucas said he had very little if any recall of his involvement in early-1990s complaints against serial paedophile the late Denis McAlinden.
Senior counsel assisting the commission, Julia Lonergan, ended Father Lucas’s session by saying his evidence of recalling  ‘‘nothing’’ of McAlinden ‘‘defies belief’’.


Inquiry: Victim's mother tells of family's pain

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry 
THE mother of victim AH said it would have been unbearable if paedophile priest Jim Fletcher had not been convicted on her son’s evidence.
The woman, BJ, who gave evidence to the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle on Friday, finished her evidence after lunch by explaining to the commissioner, Margaret Cunneen, the toll that Fletcher’s crimes had taken on her son and her family.
Ms Cunneen said  BJ had described the conviction as a "good result" and she asked what BJ would have felt had the trial resulted gone the other way.
BJ said her son had shown enormous courage to press charges and to continue with the trial despite the publicity and stress it put on him.
"The legal process didn’t let us down, the Catholic Church did,’’ BJ said.
BJ was followed into the witness box by a parish priest from the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, Father Desmond Harrigan, who had been mentioned in earlier evidence in relation to the Fletcher case.
After an application from Father Harrigan’s counsel, supported by other church counsel, Ms Cunneen said Father Harrigan’s evidence was subjected to a non-publication order.


Woman tells Catholic abuse inquiry of ostracism for speaking out

A woman whose son was sexually abused by a Catholic priest has told an inquiry into clerical abuse in the Hunter Valley that she was ostracised for speaking out.
The special commission of inquiry has been examining claims the church covered up abuse by two priests in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, James Fletcher and Denis McAlinden.
Fletcher died in jail two years into a 10-year sentence for abusing a boy know to the inquiry as AH.
AH's mother today told the inquiry she was subjected the prank phone calls, had eggs thrown at her house and was shunned in the street after the allegations were raised.
She described an altercation in a supermarket where a man rammed a shopping trolley into her leg because he was upset at the allegations levelled at Fletcher.
The woman told the hearing her family received no support from the clergy during Fletcher's trial and she felt estranged from the church.
"They didn't pray for us but they were certainly praying for him," she said.
Outside the inquiry, she said people character assassinated her family for speaking out during Fletcher's trial, and some continued to do so.


Ex-barrister priest told clergy to avoid notes of sexual abuse claims

Father Brian Lucas agreed that studying law taught the discipline of good note-taking.
But despite having been a non-practising barrister with a fistful of law qualifications, the senior figure within the Catholic Church on Wednesday told an inquiry into sexual abuse he never made notes when dealing with about 35 priests accused of sex crimes.
The inquiry also heard that Father Lucas wrote advice for clergy that it was a good idea not to take notes during interviews with accused priests to avoid the material being exposed during any ''subsequent legal process''.
Asked repeatedly about his own practice of not taking notes, Father Lucas insisted it could be ''unproductive'' because the priest would stop speaking with him.


Inquiry: AH's mother 'ostracised' by church after Fletcher revelationsInquiry archive

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry 
THE mother of AH – whose complaints led to the jailing of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher – has told the special commission of inquiry of being pushed into a wall in a court room toilet during the Fletcher trial.
In another incident, she said a man ‘‘rammed his supermarket trolley’’ into her legs at a supermarket checkout.
She said the man’s wife came back to them and apologised saying she had to understand because the man was ‘‘upset’’ about what had happened to ‘‘Father Jim’’.
‘‘I said, ‘He’s upset?,’ ’’ the mother, known by the pseudonym BJ, told the special commission of inquiry sitting in Newcastle.
BJ took the commission through what she described as a campaign of ‘‘escalating’’ isolation and ‘‘ostracisation’’ from the Catholic establishment once news that AH had gone to the police became known.
Asked about the sequence of events by counsel assisting, Patrick Hunt, BJ said she had held a wide range of volunteer roles with the church, and that these began to dry up as she and her family were ‘‘dropped’’ by former friends, some of them of some decades standing.
BJ said the early actions against her family were ‘‘subtle’’ but had become obvious by the time of Fletcher’s trial in 2004.
She said there was no support or prayer from any clergy during the trial athough it was obvious they were praying for and supporting Fletcher.


Filipino church may have known about McAlinden: inquiry

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry 
FATHER Brian Lucas has moderated his criticism of a Filipino bishop after a letter was tendered to the inquiry showing the church in the Philippines may have been told about Denis McAlinden’s problems before he did any work there.
Father Lucas is now the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference but in the first half of the 1990s played a leading role in formulating the Catholic Church’s protocols for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy.
Father Lucas had previously expressed shock and dismay that a Filipino bishop would allow the disgraced paedophile McAlinden to work in the Philippines without checking his references.
But on Friday morning, counsel for the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, Lachlan Gyles, said a letter of September 1994 showed that the Filipinos may have been aware of the reasons why McAlinden was stripped of his faculties here.
‘‘In context of that letter I would take a different view,’’ Father Lucas said.
Subsequent correspondence from then Bishop Leo Clarke to the Philippines referred to complaints from people in Australia that McAlinden was practising as a priest in the Philippines and he urged the Bishop to withdraw his faculties to stop this happening.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Church official admits 'secret process' for priests

One of the country's most senior Catholic Church officials admits it was Church protocol to deal with paedophile priests 'secretly and discreetly'.
The Commission is examining claims the Church covered up abuse to protect two priests, Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher.
The inquiry's heard father Brian Lucas's job in the 1990s was to "encourage" paedophile priests to resign in a bid to restrict their access to children.
Maria Gerace is representing some of McAlinden's victims at the inquiry.
Late yesterday she put to Father Lucas that Church protocol in 1993 "was a secret process that dealt with the allegations discreetly".
She said it enabled the "scandal to be contained in the offices of the Church".
Father Lucas replied, "To some extent, yes".
He said "it defies common sense to have the process public".
Ms Gerace said giving the priests the opportunity to resign and avoid police prosecution "was a great inducement".
Father Lucas said "in hindsight (the process) might have been erroneous".
He added, "it might have been better to go to police".


Onus on victims to tell police

One of the Australian Catholic Church’s most senior priests has spent a second day defending his decision not to report paedophile priests, including Denis McAlinden, to police on the basis it would betray victims’ trust.
Father Brian Lucas, a non-­practicing barrister and the general ­secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said he faced a constant dilemma when victims refused to go to police.
He told the special commission of inquiry, which is investigating how the Catholic Maitland-Newcastle Diocese dealt with paedophile priests Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher, it was his role to encourage offending priests to resign from ministry.
Father Lucas, who was also part of a committee that designed a protocol for bishops in dealing with allegations of criminal behaviour in the 1980s and 1990s, said he was “mostly ­successful” at persuading ­paedophiles to resign.
Senior counsel assisting the ­commissioner, Julia Lonergan SC, put it to the priest that he could have ­reported the men to the police but didn’t.
Father Lucas said he would have told police if they had interviewed him.
Ms Lonergan said it was a chicken and egg situation, whereby the police would not have known he had information about paedophiles unless he told them.
Father Lucas said that “would be betraying the victims and I would never do that”.


Hiding evidence just as bad as crime itself: campaigner

Priests should be jailed for concealing evidence of sex abuse because they are effectively aiding and abetting a crime, a child protection campaigner has said.
The executive director of advocacy group Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston, was responding to testimony by high-ranking Catholic priest Father Brian Lucas that he did not take notes while interviewing about 35 priests from 1990-1996 who were accused of sex abuse, nor did he refer the matters to police. ''He should be jailed. That just aids and abets offenders to continue to offend and it is just as bad a crime, in my view, than committing the crimes itself,'' Ms Johnston said.
''The person didn't only not do their job but their moral obligation. It is absolutely the most appalling, atrocious response.''
Father Brian is the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which oversees the National Committee for Professional Standards responsible for procedures in dealing with abuse complaints. Retired psychologist Stephen Paull, who has 25 years of experience in child protection in the NSW education department, said it was ''absolutely grossly negligent'' both legally and morally not to take notes at such meetings.


Church's secrecy gives public little reason for confidence

"By placing so much weight on protecting its reputation and respecting the privacy of victims, the church looks increasingly out of step with community expectations".
To people unschooled in legal and canonical niceties, mounting evidence about the Catholic Church's approach to child abuse surely beggars belief.
Australians will soon need to decide whether they still trust the church to do what is best to protect children or whether new laws are needed to ensure police and other investigators become involved whenever there is potential risk.
By placing so much weight on protecting its own reputation and respecting the privacy of victims, the church looks increasingly out of step with community expectations.
Those concerns have been raised by evidence to commission of inquiry into Hunter region paedophile priests from Brian Lucas, general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference since 2002, qualified lawyer and ordained priest.
During six years from about 1990, Lucas's work with the Archdiocese of Sydney included dealing with about 35 priests accused of sex crimes.
Lucas admitted he had never taken notes during the meetings, in some instances ''so that a subsequent legal process that would compel production of them cannot be successful''.
He ''seduced'' 10 of the priests to resign from the priesthood on the justification that it would ''go a long way towards protecting children in the future''. Yet he admitted the strategy gave priests an inducement to avoid police action and helped the church contain any scandal.
Lucas never reported a priest to police. Some reoffended. Others may still do so.
His evidence came after a Victorian parliamentary inquiry uncovered a blacklist of priests whom the church's insurance arm would never indemnify. The forthcoming royal commission into child abuse will also include an examination of church processes.


More from Lucas (Or: What? Me Remember?)

Senior Catholic priest, Brian Lucas continues to have a poor memory, just like his colleagues. Ms Maria Gerace, a victims’ lawyer, challenged Lucas’ assertion that he could not remember anything about the McAlinden case. As she wryly noted, the single thing Lucas could recall was the one fact that meant he was not guilty of any offence in relation to misprision of felony or similar laws relating to the concealment of evidence or failure to report crime.
Mr. Lucas is a lawyer as well as a priest. In a 1996 speech, entitled “Are our Archives Safe? – An ecclesial view of search warrants”, distributed to church lawyers, Lucas gives a sub-heading reading :” To shred or not to shred – Is that the question?”. Perhaps, he could have added another sub-section headed: “To remember or not to remember – What was the question again?”
This is not the first time Lucas has had memory problems. In 1992, he was part of a committee investigating a “Father F” in the Armidale diocese.  In his court hearing in 2004, “Father F” admitted in a meeting with Lucas he molested boys between 1982 and 1984. A letter written by Father Peters (a committee co-member with Lucas) to Bishop Kevin Manning of Armidale just eight days after the 1992 meeting with the priest describes in detail “Father F’s” admissions.


Cleric 'knew cleared abuse priests guilty'

DAN BOX From: The Australian July 26, 2013
A SENIOR Catholic cleric was aware of evidence suggesting two priests acquitted of child abuse offences in court were in fact guilty of such crimes.
The men were among dozens of alleged pedophile priests interviewed by Brian Lucas, the general-secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, who did not report them to police.
Instead, Father Lucas told the NSW special commission of inquiry into church child abuse that he followed a "secret and discreet" policy of dealing with the men and would "take my chances" with the law as a result.
"I can think of one particular priest I interviewed who absolutely denied anything. He subsequently was charged, he was convicted by the jury, his conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal and no retrial," Father Lucas said.
"I did understand that there had been other families who had made representations to the bishop, with which I was not involved at all, suggesting he would have been guilty."


Abuse claims never even get to court

Of more than 2000 complaints by clergy child-sex abuse victims in Victoria, only one has ever made it through the civil court process to a verdict, a researcher will tell a human rights conference on Friday. And that case failed.
The researcher and victims advocate, Judy Courtin, also says that more than half the victims associated with the secondary victims she interviewed are now prematurely dead, either through suicide or substance abuse.
She says the civil law's statute of limitations and especially the Ellis defence - by which the Catholic Church successfully argued it was not an entity that could be sued - has deterred lawyers so that ''victims are stymied … a clear breach of a fundamental human right''.


Priest's credibility challenged

One of the leaders of the Catholic Church has admitted his way of dealing with claims of child sexual abuse against clergy was outside the church's protocols of the time, that it gave priests an inducement to avoid police action and it helped the church contain any scandal.
In hindsight, it may have been better not to have done it his way, Father Brian Lucas said at the state government inquiry into alleged church and police cover-ups of paedophile priest activity in the Hunter Valley.
On his second day in the witness stand, the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishop's conference, a barrister with particular legal expertise in issues of child protection and church confidentiality, came in for a grilling over the way he handled complaints against priests in the first half of the 1990s.
The credibility of his complete lack of recall of a crucial meeting with the disgraced serial child abuser Denis McAlinden in 1993 was repeatedly called into question.
From 1990 it was Father Brian's role to interview NSW priests accused of child sexual abuse. He has asserted the most effective way of protecting children's safety was to persuade offending priests to leave the ministry so they would not have intimate access to families.
''Part of the inducement offered to priests was this was a discreet way to deal with the problem of the complaint that may avoid police action?'' asked barrister Maria Gerace, cross examining on behalf of a victim of McAlinden.
''That was certainly the case'', Father Brian responded. He also agreed that his practice of not taking notes preserved the priests' right to silence in the event of legal action later being taken, helped the church contain any scandal, was outside the church's protocol of the time requiring documentation.


Inquiry: Priest 'did not recall McAlinden'

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry    
FATHER Brian Lucas began his second day in the witness box in Newcastle confirming he’d had to supply more documents about his involvement in dealing with paedophile priests to the Special Commission of Inquiry.
He finished the day by rejecting a suggestion from victims’ counsel Maria Gerace that his evidence was ‘‘not true’’.
Ms Gerace said the only thing Father Lucas could recall for the commission about serial paedophile the late Denis McAlinden –  that his victims did not want to go to the police – was the one thing that would stop Father Lucas being charged with concealing a crime.
In between, the evidence traversed such diverse areas as the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete – a New Mexico-based ministry that specialises in ministering to troubled priests, including paedophiles – and the failure of a Catholic ethicist, Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, to convince the Church to have paedophile allegations against priests automatically reported to police from as early as 1990.
Father Lucas, who helped the Church in NSW develop policies for responding to the sexual crimes of its clerics from the late 1980s, is a highly credentialled lawyer and the long-standing general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
Documents and other evidence tendered to the commission indicate he played a leading role in efforts to discipline serial paedophile McAlinden in the early 1990s, but he has told the inquiry he has no recall of the man or of conversations with victims and Church authorities about him.


Tweed sex abuse whistleblower to attend White Balloon Day

BANORA Point whistleblower Fiona Barnett will be Bravehearts' local representative at the organisation's annual White Balloon Day activities on September 6.
Ms Barnett last month appeared before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to testify about the activities of a teacher she says was responsible for the abuse of at least 20 local children in the 1980s and 1990s.
She said she was then approached by Bravehearts to represent the group locally at its fundraising event that will involve hundreds of schools, day care centres, businesses, councils, sporting clubs, community groups and organisations around Australia.


Defrocking the best solution, priest tells inquiry

There is “not much more you can do” to prevent children being abused by paedophile priests once you've removed the ministers from office, a Catholic Church priest has told a NSW government inquiry.
But Father Brian Lucas agreed his system of managing accused priests was a failure of risk management and did not comply with the church's protocols at the time.
In the five or six years from 1990 when his role was to deal with sexual abuse allegations against the church in NSW, some of those accused did admit their guilt to him, he said. But he did not pass the admissions on to police because he "never felt able to do that".
Father Lucas, who is also a lawyer with expertise in child protection, was being grilled at the inquiry into the alleged church cover-up of paedophile priest activity in the Hunter Valley.
His insistence that defrocking paedophile priests was the best approach in the early 1990s is under challenge from counsel assisting the inquiry Julia Lonergan, SC. Also under challenge is the credibility of his assertion of a total absence of memory about his dealings with paedophile priest Father McAlinden.
Father Lucas has given evidence that he did not take notes of his conversations with accused priests even though church protocol then called for documentation. He insists his highest priority was always the safety of children but priests would not have spoken to him if he had taken notes. His objective was to get the alleged perpetrators to resign from the priesthood.


Victims would have been supported if they wanted police involved: abuse inquiry

One of Australia's most senior Catholic Church officials says victims of paedophile priests would have been supported by the diocese if they wanted to go to police.
Father Brian Lucas is the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and in the 1990s he was called in to deal with allegations of child sexual abuse.
He yesterday told the inquiry it was his role to "seduce" paedophile priests to resign, but today said a better word would be to "encourage".
Counsel-assisting the commission Julia Lonergan told father Lucas he could have gone to police after McAlinden confessed the abuse to him in 1993.
But father Lucas said he was in "a predicament" after speaking with McAlinden's victims, who said they did not want police informed.
Ms Lonergan told father Lucas he could have assisted police by telling them about the confession.


Inquiry: Limited memories questioned

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry     
COUNSEL for a victim of paedophile priest Denis McAlinden has asked why the only thing a senior Catholic cleric says he can remember about the matter is the one thing that would mean he did not have to go to police at the time.
Maria Gerace, counsel for various church victims including one known as ‘‘AJ’’, was cross-examining Father Brian Lucas, the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and a major figure in forming the church’s response to priestly child sexual abuse from the late 1980s.
After almost two days of giving his evidence in chief before senior counsel assisting, Julia Lonergan, Father Lucas was asked by Ms Gerace about a number of matters from those days, including a media release issued by the Catholic welfare agency, Centacare, in March 1992.
Allowed to continue despite objections from Father Lucas’s counsel, Peter Skinner, Ms Gerace said the media release stated that priests accused of child sexual abuse would be stood down automatically from their duties and the allegations taken to civil authorities.


Senior Catholic cleric Brian Lucas may have known pedophile priests were evading justice

A SENIOR Catholic cleric may have been aware of evidence suggesting two priests acquitted of child abuse offences in court were in fact guilty of such crimes, an inquiry has heard.
Giving evidence to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church child abuse, Brian Lucas also said he had not reported the men to police as many of their alleged victims did not want authorities involved.
Reverend Lucas said the men were among dozens of pedophile priests he personally interviewed during the early 1990s.
“I can think of one particular priest I interviewed who absolutely denied anything. He subsequently was charged, he was convicted by the jury, his conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal and no retrial.
“I did understand that there had been other families who had made representations to the bishop, with which I was not involved at all, suggesting he would have been guilty,” Rev Lucas said.


Forgotten Australians find their voices

How hard will it be for people who grew up in orphanages and homes to make a submission to the Royal Commission?
Longford resident Ray Shingles says it will be tough but he plans on sharing his story.
"This is a big thing with the Royal Commission, this is our last gasp for them to get it right and I think they will get it right," he says.
"I have a voice and in my community of Forgotten Australians, I will always have a voice and I will always barrack for the underprivileged in the Forgotten Australians."
The Forgotten Australians, people who spent time in homes, orphanages and out of home care will be among those preparing submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Royal Commission will investigate how institutions and agencies responsible for children have managed allegations of child abuse.

It will look at religious organisations, government agencies, orphanages, schools and foster care.Ray Shingles spent six years at Kilmany Park, a Presbyterian Church home for boys in a farm setting on the outskirts of Sale.
He says the regimented lifestyle was abusive.


John Paul II Sainthood: Sexual Abuse Victims In Mexico Receive UN Support To Halt Pope's Canonization

The UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child have backed a Mexican sexual abuse victims group that formed in response to the impending canonization of late Pope John Paul II. This is the first time a group has formed to challenge the Vatican when it comes to a person's sainthood. The current Pope Francis will now see a case that gives him a chance to reveal pressing questions about the Catholic Church's history with child sexual abuse. He has until Nov. 1 to come forward with any and all evidence pertinent to the case.


Senior priest defends dealings with paedophiles: inquiry

STORY: No notes, no paper trail
Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry 
STORY: Defrocked priest worked at school
FATHER Brian Lucas has finished giving his evidence in chief to the special commission of inquiry with a determined defence of the practices he used to deal with Denis McAlinden and other paedophile priests.
Father Lucas, the Canberra-based general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference since 2002, was previously with the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Sydney and a key player in the Australian church’s formulation of early policies dealing with child sexual abuse by clergy.
As he did on Wednesday, Father Lucas defended his decision not to tell the police about McAlinden on the grounds that the victims who had come to him for help were adamant that they did not want the police involved.
In the commission’s pre-lunch session on Thursday, Father Lucas said this created a significant dilemma that was only solved in 1996 when the church began working more closely with police and developed a protocol to tell the civil authorities about allegations made against clergy without necessarily naming the victims


Inquiry told bishop didn't need to know about priest's confession

One of the country's most senior Catholic Church officials says the bishop of a diocese does not need to know about a paedophile priest's admissions of guilt.
In the 1990s father Brian Lucas had a special role, to "seduce paedophile priests" to resign.
Father Lucas is a qualified lawyer and general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and is giving evidence at the inquiry into claims the church covered up abuse by two priests, including Denis McAlinden.
The commission's heard McAlinden confessed in 1993 to the abuse of children but father Lucas said he did not need to tell the Maitland-Newcastle bishop.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

VIDEO: No notes, no paper trail: inquiry

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STORY: Defrocked priest worked at school
A SENIOR priest at the heart of the Catholic Church's efforts to deal with paedophile priests has admitted to not taking notes of his investigations so as not to leave a paper trail.
Father Brian Lucas, general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, yesterday gave evidence to the Special Commission of Inquiry in Newcastle.
Father Lucas has been identified in earlier evidence as being involved in attempts to discipline paedophile priest Denis McAlinden, who died in a church-run facility in Western Australia in 2005.
Although he acknowledged evidence at the inquiry that McAlinden had confessed to him personally during an interview in the 1990s, Father Lucas said he had no recollection of that meeting.


VIDEO: Defrocked priest worked at school

Inquiry archive      
Transcripts of inquiry     
A SENIOR Catholic Church figure has blamed his counterparts in the Philippines for letting disgraced paedophile Denis McAlinden act as chaplain to a school with 7500 children from kindergarten onwards.
Father Brian Lucas, general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, told the Special Commission of Inquiry sitting in Newcastle yesterday that he was "absolutely staggered and utterly appalled" the Filipino authorities had allowed someone in McAlinden's position to work in their diocese.
Asked whether he knew if anyone from the Maitland-Newcastle diocese had told the Filipinos about McAlinden's offences, he said there was no need because McAlinden should not have been able to work "without his celebret".
Father Lucas said a celebret - pronounced "chelebret" - was a document signed and sealed by a bishop or religious superior stating the holder was a priest in good standing.
"I could never have foreseen in 1992 that any priest could work anywhere in the world without the local bishop checking him out," Father Lucas said.
Father Lucas, a trained lawyer who was instrumental in devising Australian Catholic protocols to deal with paedophile priests from 1988, has been identified in various Church documents as extracting a confession from McAlinden in the mid-1990s.