by: DAN BOX
From: The Australian
August 29, 2013 12:00AM
CONFIDENTIAL files held by the Archdiocese of Sydney detail dozens of meetings in which two of the country’s most senior serving Catholic clerics convinced pedophile priests to quietly resign, an inquiry has heard.
The NSW Special Commission of Inquiry will reopen its public hearings next month to hear evidence from Brian Lucas, the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and John Usher, the chancellor of the archdiocese.
Father Lucas has previously told the inquiry the two men met about 35 alleged pedophile priests, convincing them to resign in a “secret and discreet” process.
In accordance with the alleged victims’ wishes, Father Lucas said, the two senior clerics did not report any of these priests to police, despite 10 of the men privately admitting they had committed child abuse.
At least one of these priests is before the courts, charged with child abuse. The resignation of another priest failed to prevent that priest continuing to work for the church, and having access to children, the inquiry heard.
In his written evidence to the inquiry, Father Lucas said records of these meetings, which took place during the early 1990s, would be in the possession of the Archdiocese of Sydney, itself led by Cardinal George Pell.
“There were files of confidential material relating to child sexual abuse kept in the fire-proof strong room of the Chancery office during my tenure as archdiocesan secretary,” Father Lucas’ affidavit states.
These documents had subsequently been moved, he said, yet there was no evidence they were forwarded to the church’s Professional Standards Office, which deals with the police.
Father Lucas said he knowingly ran the risk of committing an offence by not reporting the alleged pedophile priests to police but had not done so in an attempt to cover-up their crimes.
The Archdiocese of Sydney did not respond to questions yesterday.
Abuse inquiry to reopen for church officials
by: DAN BOX
From: The Australian
August 28, 2013 11:48AM
A NSW inquiry into the alleged cover-up of child abuse within the Catholic church will reopen its public hearings to consider evidence from two of the most senior Catholics officials in the country.
The NSW Special Commission of Inquiry, which held the last of its eight weeks of public hearings earlier this month, will reconvene for an additional hearing in Sydney in September.
The two witnesses who have been called to give evidence are Brian Lucas, the general-secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, and John Usher, the chancellor of the archdiocese of Sydney.
Father Lucas has previously given evidence before the inquiry, saying he and Monsignor Usher personally met about 35 alleged pedophile priests during the early 1990s, most of whom were subsequently convinced to resign.
This “secret and discreet”‘ process meant potential scandal could be contained within the church, Father Lucas told the inquiry.
It “was certainly the case”‘ that part of the inducement offered to the priests was that by resigning, they would avoid any potential involvement by the police, he said.