“Sexual abuse survivor Andrew Collins has called on Ballarat Diocese Bishop Paul Bird to resign” & related articles

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The Standard   (Australia)

3 Apr 2017, 3:30 p.m

Abuse survivor Andrew Collins. Photo: Eddie Jim

Abuse survivor Andrew Collins. Photo: Eddie Jim

CLERGY sexual abuse survivor Andrew Collins has called on Ballarat Diocese Bishop Paul Bird to resign after he refuted calls to remove plaques which include the name of disgraced bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

Mr Collins, who went to Rome last year to hear Cardinal George Pell’s evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, called on the Vatican to remove Bishop Bird if he would not resign. Bishop Bird told The Standard it was important to accurately record historical events where the community had gathered to celebrate with Bishop Mulkearns.

He said each school or church council had to make its own decision in regards to the removal of plaques and called on those making such decisions to also recognise the good work done by Bishop Mulkearns.

Bishop Mulkearns, who died last year, was known as the “keeper of secrets” and headed the Ballarat Diocese while paedophile members of the clergy abused children.

Mr Collins, who was sexually abused by numerous priests as a boy, said Bishop Bird’s comments showed that he did not care.

“Mulkearns was the author of his own legacy. He may have done some good things, but they are well and truly overshadowed by the bad things that he did,” he said.

“He knew about the abusers and he moved those abusers all around. He didn’t report them to the police. As far as we (abuse survivors) are concerned he essentially facilitated the rape and abuse of all those children.

“There are so many people that have taken their own lives because of his actions. There are families that don’t have sons, brothers, fathers because of him.”

In an emailed statement, Bishop Bird said: “I appreciate the wish of our school communities to show sensitivity to the feelings of victims of abuse. At the same time, I believe it is important to present history as fairly as possible. This means recording the good as well as the bad.

“A plaque for the opening of a school building records an occasion when the bishop came to say a prayer and celebrate with the local community to mark the opening of the school. This was a good thing the bishop did.

“The bishop’s failings have been frequently recorded elsewhere. In my view, the record of something good he did also deserves to be kept intact, namely his visit to celebrate with a local community the opening of their school.”

Mr Collins said Bishop Bird’s comments were insensitive to survivors.

“The mere fact that survivors are saying ‘this distresses me’ should be enough for him to say ‘you know what, we will do everything we can because of what the church has done to you, to try and make up for it’,” he said.

“For him to say that he won’t remove or alter those plaques, it’s just a slap in the face to survivors and it really does make us worried. If he’s coming out as the Bishop of the Ballarat Diocese and he is saying this now while the Royal Commission is still going, what is the church going to be like after the Royal Commission is over?”

Mr Collins called on Bishop Bird to stand down.

“With everything that he has seen and heard at the Royal Commission hearings, he either doesn’t get it or he just doesn’t want to get it,” Mr Collins said.

“If he won’t stand down, I would call upon the Vatican to remove him, because it really is just so insensitive, in one of the dioceses that is one of the worst in the world in the numbers of victims, this man is not the right man to have here.”

Mr Collins said there had been “absolute outrage” at Bishop Bird’s comments on the Ballarat So Sad Facebook page, which supports survivors of clergy and institutionalised childhood sexual abuse across Australia and worldwide.

“Every survivor I have spoken to about this is exactly the same,” he said.

“They are outraged and there is absolute disgust that this man would come out and say this.”

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Bishop of Ballarat says history should accurately recall historical events

The Standard (Australia)

2 Apr 2017, 3:30 p.m.

THE Catholic Bishop of Ballarat has refuted calls to remove plaques which include the name of disgraced bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

Bishop Paul Bird.

Bishop Paul Bird.

Bishop Paul Bird made the comment prior to a visit to Warrnambool on Sunday.

He said it was important to accurately record historical events where the community had gathered to celebrate with Bishop Mulkearns.

The bishop said other events, including Bishop Mulkearns’ failings, had been recorded elsewhere. Bishop Bird said he thought it was going too far. Bishop Mulkearns, who died last year, was the bishop of the Ballarat Diocese while pedophile members of the clergy abused children.

He was aware of pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale’s offending in 1975 but chose to move him to parishes within the diocese, allowing the notorious offender to keep committing crimes.

Churches and schools within the diocese have been discussing removing historical plaques out of respect for the hundreds of victims.

St Colman’s in Mortlake and Warrnambool’s St Joseph’s primary schools have decided to remove the plaques or remove Bishop Mulkearn’s name from the plaques. Bishop Bird said each school or church council had to make its own decision. He called for those making such decisions to also recognise the good work done by Bishop Mulkearns.

The Royal Commission into sexual abuse heard that almost 10 per cent of clergy members of the Ballarat diocese had committed sexual offences.

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Warrnambool’s St Joseph’s Primary School council decides to delete Bishop Mulkearns’ name from plaque

The Standard

15 Mar 2017, 7:53 a.m.

​THE name of the former bishop of Ballarat will be removed from a plaque at Warrnambool’s largest catholic primary school out of respect for victims of clerical sexual abuse.

In its weekly newsletter, St Josephs Primary School announced the move after a victim of abuse requested action in relation to plaques on churches and schools two months ago.

The victim became emotional on Tuesday when told of the move.

“I know to many people this will seem a very small thing but the school’s decision recognises the wrongs of the past,” the tearful victim said.

“We are not trying to rewrite history, just to acknowledge what has happened.”

Th newsletter said that in response to the school community’s concerns, the school advisory council had recommended to Father John Fitzgerald to remove the name Mulkearns from the school commemorative plaque.

“The school plaque commemorates the school opening here on this site in 1985,” the newsletter said.

“Our school council’s view was to importantly maintain the recorded historical fact of the opening celebration but to respect the victims of clerical abuse, identified via the Royal Commission, by removing the name.

“Father John has accepted this SAC recommendation.”

The moves comes in line with some other schools and churches in the Ballarat diocese, which covers south-west Victoria.

A plaque at Warrnambool’s St Pius X Church was also removed, while Mortlake’s St Colman’s Primary School also took down a similar plaque.

Ballarat’s St Patrick’s College has also had a black line drawn through the names of disgraced members of the clergy on its honour boards.

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns was the bishop of th​e​ Ballarat diocese while sexual abuse was committed by a number of members of the clergy including notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Ridsdale told a family member his victims numbered in the hundreds.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Response into Child Sex Abuse has found the Ballarat diocese was one of th​e​ worst ​impacted in Australia with almost 10 per cent of clergy members involved in abuse.

Bishop Mulkearns knew about Ridsdale’s offending in 1975 but moved him when complaints were made, therefore allowing the priest to continue offending.

Ridsdale served in Warrnambool, Mortlake, Edenhope, Timboon and Apollo Bay.

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Estate of retired Australian bishop to be used to help child abuse victims

The Catholic Herald (UK)

06 September 2016

The late Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who ‘regretted’ his handling of abuse cases, left his fortune to the Diocese of Ballarat

The multi-million dollar estate of Ronald Mulkearns, the former bishop of in Ballarat in Australia, will be used to help abuse survivors, the Diocese of Ballarat has said.

Bishop Mulkearns left his entire estate – valued at $2m (£1.1m) – to Bishop Paul Bird to be used “at his absolute discretion”, according to local press.

Bishop Mulkearns, who died of cancer in April, was accused of covering up incidents of child abuse in Victoria and allowing priests accused of paedophilia to move freely between dioceses in the Australian state. There have been more than 100 claims of child abuse within the diocese since 1980.

In February, the retired bishop told a royal commission investigating child abuse that he “regretted” that he didn’t “deal differently with paedophilia.”

“We had no idea, or I had no idea, of the effects of the incidents that took place,” he said.

Australian Associated Press reported that Bishop Paul Bird, the current Bishop of Ballarat, said in a statement that the inheritance would be used to help abuse survivors.

The statement said: “Whatever the diocese of Ballarat receives from Bishop Mulkearns’ estate, I intend to set aside for assistance to victims of abuse.”

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Abuse victims to benefit from estate of former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns

ABC News           Australia

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Real estate and cash left to the Catholic Church by a bishop blamed for the sexual abuse of hundreds of children in Ballarat, north-west of Melbourne, will be given to victims of abuse.

Ronald Mulkearns left nearly all of his estate, including a Fairhaven property valued at more than $2 million, to the Catholic diocese of Ballarat after his death his April.

He was accused of not properly handling complaints about abuse in his diocese, which he apologised for while testifying before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In testimony he said he was not sure if he knew child abuse was a crime when he was in charge of the Ballarat diocese but he knew it was wrong.

In a statement, current bishop Paul Bird said he intended to set the money aside to help abuse victims.

“Whatever the diocese of Ballarat receives from Bishop Mulkearn’s estate, I intend to set aside for the assistance to victims of abuse,” he said.

“This will continue the support that the diocese has given to abuse victims over many years.”

One of the victims, Andrew Collins, said he was surprised to learn Bishop Mulkearns left most of his assets to the church.

“The fact it is left to the church is an opportunity for the church to look at that figure and do something meaningful with it,” he said.

Mr Collins said the money should be used to help victims and their families.

“I think that as Mulkearns essentially facilitated the abuse of victims by moving perpetrators around,” he said.

“I’d like to see that money used to help victims and their families, especially those who have taken their own lives.”

3 Responses to “Sexual abuse survivor Andrew Collins has called on Ballarat Diocese Bishop Paul Bird to resign” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    When it comes to bishops and cover-ups, here’s what’s happening in Australia.

    Note the two articles at the bottom of the page which detail the fact that Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, the former bishop of the scandal-plagued Ballarat Diocese in Australia, left his very substantial estate to the diocese. The current bishop of the diocese, Paul Bird, indicated his intent last year to set those monies aside to assist victims of abuse.

    And now this. Bishop Bird has left the decision to remove either Bishop Mulkeanr’s name or the plaques bearing his name from various schools and churches up to the individual schools and churches.

    “I appreciate the wish of our school communities to show sensitivity to the feelings of victims of abuse. At the same time, I believe it is important to present history as fairly as possible. This means recording the good as well as the bad.

    “A plaque for the opening of a school building records an occasion when the bishop came to say a prayer and celebrate with the local community to mark the opening of the school. This was a good thing the bishop did.

    “The bishop’s failings have been frequently recorded elsewhere. In my view, the record of something good he did also deserves to be kept intact, namely his visit to celebrate with a local community the opening of their school.”

    Thoughts?

  2. Mark says:

    As heartbreaking and disgusting as the saga of sexual abuse by Catholic priests is, I have been to the Ballarat So Sad Facebook page and let me tell you, the people running it have no compassion for falsely accused priests. But then again, so little members of the general public do. Twice I posted a comment on the aforementioned Facebook page about falsely accused priests and it got deleted both times.

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