NSW Enquiry Session 2 Week 2 (Or: Who? When? Where? Why? For Us To Know And You To Guess)


Image source: www.idiotjoyshow.com

Week 2 of Session 2 of the NSW government enquiry into clerical child sexual abuse in the Newcastle-Maitland Catholic Church diocese began with a day off. Later, it will hold “in camera” (i.e., secret) hearings with the media and general public excluded. Details regarding the scheduling of in camera hearings will remain confidential. Nothing much to see here, folks.

In-camera evidence is due to be given by the following people:

  • Archbishop Philip Wilson (of Adelaide)
  • Father Glen Walsh
  • Father Gerard Mackie
  • Sister Paula Redgrove
  • Michael Stanwell
  • Peter Gogarty  (has indicated he would prefer to give public evidence)
  • Detective Jeffrey Little (NSW police)

The enquiry officials state that “No adverse inferences should be drawn from the fact that certain witnesses will give evidence in camera” under penalty, so none will be drawn. (Fortunately, the author is not a cartoonist and wouldn’t know how to represent an inference pictorially anyway.)

Tuesday is due to see public hearings resume on Tuesday with Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, Detective Senior Constable J. Flipo, and Mr. Donald Brown. Tuesday and Wednesday should see former Newcastle-Maitland bishop Michael Malone. This should be most entertaining.

The remainder of the week should be taken up with Fr. William Burston, Fr. James Saunders and Monsignor Alan Hart (no relation to Bishop Denis Hart).

As covered last week, Monsignor Hart wrote that ‘‘those who have lodged complaints intend to consider instituting criminal charges and compensation charges against the Church’’ in a letter released by the enquiry. The letter demonstrated that Monsignor Hart knew of offending by a local priest. Poor Monsignor Hart has had a hard time of it. In 2005, a homeless man punched him several times in the head and face at his church. The homeless man was charged with assault, and was refused bail.

In 2008, Fr. Gerard Mackie “inadvertently” showed a class of seven-year-olds at a government school a picture of an erect penis, for which he was suspended by the diocese. No charges were laid by police. The NSW Department of Education confirmed the “incident.” In a statement, the manager of the Newcastle-Maitland diocese’s Child Protection and Professional Conduct Unit, Sean Tynan, said that “Fr. Mackie is entitled to privacy.” Fr. Mackie was reinstated in 2010, when the diocese “welcomed him back.”

In earlier testimony, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox said the mother of one of (paedophile priest) Fr Fletcher’s victims rang him in a distraught state, saying she was told that Bishop Malone, Fr Harrigan, Monsignor Jim Saunders, and Fr Bill Burston were at the meeting when Fr Fletcher was told of the investigation.

The first priest in Australia charged with covering-up the activities of a paedophile priest was Toronto priest, Tom Brennan. He died before trial. Another of this week’s public hearings witnesses, Fr. Jim Saunders, gave the eulogy at Brennan’s funeral, as his “friend and confidant.”

The Catholic Church hired security guards for the funeral service out of fear of victim’s protests outside the church, which did not eventuate. ‘‘As he was to leave this world, there was no animosity, and with malice towards no-one,’’ Father Saunders said.

However, a single victim maintained a silent protest by standing at the rear of the church with his back to the service. He later stood near the hearse with a sign about the church’s ‘‘shame.’’ “I’m here for those who can’t be,” he said, referring to the number of victims of the paedophile priest who had committed suicide.

Despite the problem with the in-camera hearings, some truths may come out this week.

Read more here:

TOMORROW: NSW enquiry – Session 2, week 2, day 2

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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