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Incompetent dealing with priestly paedophilia

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Frank Brennan |  21 January 2013

Bishop Harry KennedyIf Bishop Harry Kennedy (pictured) were alive today he would be 97 years old. He became a bishop 41 years ago and retired 21 years ago. Chances are that, like others of his fellow bishops, he was a man of his times.

Thirty-one years ago he ordained a new priest, 'Fr F', and sent him to Moree parish in the Armidale Diocese. Two and a half years later, Kennedy abruptly terminated Fr F's appointment and sent him on 'what was euphemistically called 'sick leave'' to use the language of retired judge Antony Whitlam who has conducted a thorough inquiry into the case of Fr F. A psychologist gave him the 'all clear' for continued ministry.

Three years after the termination of Fr F's Moree appointment, he was arrested and charged with serious sexual offences against a boy, Damien Jurd, who had been an altar boy for Fr F in Moree. The magistrate improperly dismissed the charges. Fr F continued to serve as a priest.

Kennedy being long dead, we will never hear his side of the story. But Whitlam has been scrupulously fair in concluding on the evidence available to him that Kennedy's later treatment of Damien's parents was a disgrace, Kennedy's failure to look into various matters was 'utterly inexplicable', and his record keeping was abysmal.

If the spotlight of a retired judge were not thus applied to the issues which arose once Fr F was moved from Moree to various other parishes in the dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta, it is unlikely that the present bishop of Armidale would have publicly acknowledged that Kennedy 'failed in his duty of governance [of the diocese] and, more importantly, in his duty to the pastoral care of its people'.

It will be no surprise if the McClellan Royal Commission highlights such failings by some other bishops of that generation. The judicial spotlight is welcome.

The 4 Corners program Unholy Silence which led to the Whitlam inquiry made much of a meeting on 3 September 1992 between Fr F and three still serving senior clergy — Frs Usher, Lucas and Peters. According to the 4 Corners reporter Geoff Thompson, 'What happened at the meeting is crucial to understanding the major flaws in the way the Catholic Church deals in-house with allegations of sexual abuse'.

This was the first of three such meetings between September and November 1992. The letter of Fr Peters to his bishop eight days after the first meeting which was said to be 'a short report on the meeting', disclosed five distinct admissions by Fr F to sexual interference with children.

Having interviewed all three senior clerics and reviewed all available documentary evidence 20 years later, Whitlam concludes, 'Notwithstanding the honest differences in recollection, I do not disbelieve Fr Lucas and Mgr Usher. Accordingly if 'F' made no admissions that either of them considered could and should be reported to the police, then there was no 'cover-up' back in 1992.'

Whitlam observed that 'There is nothing sinister in that situation. Nor do I consider that [the Peters letter of 11 September 1992] must necessarily be accepted as a more accurate record of the discussion.'

In Unholy Silence, Cardinal Pell's edited remarks gave the impression that there was a contemporary file note relating to the meeting of 3 September 1992. He said, 'The file note of that meeting ... does not show that [Fr F] made any admission'. Whitlam observed, 'It would be unfortunate if that statement gave the impression that Fr Usher's briefing note was a contemporaneous record of the meeting in question.'

In fact the file note provided to His Eminence was drawn up on 6 June 2012. Speaking for Fr Lucas on the program, Cardinal Pell said, 'I've reported what the file note says and what he said about what happened at that particular meeting.' Two days after the program, the Archdiocese of Sydney issued a media statement pointing out that the Peters letter did not reflect the 'notes of the meeting held by the Church's Professional Standards Office'.

Those notes were presumably not the file note to which His Eminence was referring. Unfortunately those notes do not appear in the Whitlam report.

Kerry O'Brien introduced Unholy Silence with the question, 'why has this man (Fr F) not been brought to justice?' He said the story would focus 'on the failure of the Church at very senior levels, right up to the present day, to deal adequately with allegations of serious and predatory crimes, including the apparent failure to alert police'.

Having inspected all available materials and interviewed all key players still living, Whitlam provides a more complex tale. It's not just a matter of out of touch clergy failing to act justly, compassionately and transparently.

It is gratifying to see that Whitlam finds that 'had procedures for reporting child abuse laid down in [Towards Healing] been in force in 1984 and observed in Moree at the time, 'F' would have been stopped in his tracks', and that 'if those procedures had been in place in 1989 and followed in 'F's' case, there is no chance that [the Bishop of Parramatta] would have agreed to take him on'. Daniel Powell who became one of F's victims in Parramatta would have been spared F's depredations.

One of the matters for the Royal Commission will be to consider what should be the liability of the Church as an unsuspecting employer for the criminal acts of 'an employee' like Fr F who preys on an unsuspecting child like Damien Jurd. This will entail consideration of legal and moral questions about vicarious liability of employers for criminal acts of employees committed outside the scope of their employment and without knowledge of their employer, even if the employer be cautious and diligent.

Another matter will be consideration of the strict liability of any employer, including the Church, for permitting a renowned offending employee to be placed in a position of threat to children.

It is gratifying that Whitlam had no substantive criticism to make of any of Bishop Kennedy's successors in Armidale nor of either Bishop of Parramatta with whom Fr F dealt.

Even the late Bishop Kennedy could have been helped if he had better counsel available on the psychology of child sex abusers. Back in those days, it was possible for a psychologist to write to Kennedy in July 1988 after assessing Fr F and saying that 'he no longer presents any problems for children or yourself' and 'I would hope that 'F' will be given every opportunity to move beyond the cloud that still appears to hang over his head and receive the care and support he justly deserves after all this time'.

After interviewing Fr F himself, Mgr Usher wisely counselled that another assessment be sought, noting, 'I gained the impression that he was unable to understand the seriousness of the matters with which he had been charged and was arrogantly dismissing the whole affair as a figment of other people's imagination'.

After Kennedy's retirement, the new bishop took Usher's advice and sought an alternative professional opinion. The bishop was advised in 1992 that ''F' will be an ongoing risk', 'a high risk of recidivism' and 'the prognosis is not good'. The new bishop acted promptly to have F withdrawn from all ministry.

The late Bishop Kennedy's incompetence might not have wrought such damage, especially to Daniel Powell, if the prosecution of F had been more competent. Whitlam found that the reasons of the magistrate in discharging F in 1988 were 'plainly unsatisfactory and provide no support for his stated conclusion' and 'reflect a flawed approach to the exercise of his jurisdiction to discharge'. Whitlam says 'it is difficult to see how a decision was made not to continue the prosecution of 'F' on an ex officio indictment'.

There will be many complex lessons from the royal commission, and not just for Catholic bishops. Bishop Kennedy was not the only one out of his depth in the saga of Fr F; practitioners in law and psychology were found wanting. Other than Kennedy, most of the senior clergy involved with F appear to have done their job credibly according to the values and practices of the time.

It is now for the royal commission to recommend how contemporary values and practices can be improved for the protection of children like Damien Jurd and Daniel Powell. 


 

Frank Brennan headshotFr Frank Brennan SJ is professor of law, director of strategic research projects (social justice and ethics), Australian Catholic University, adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University.


 



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"There will be many complex lessons from the royal commission, and not just for Catholic bishops. Bishop Kennedy was not the only one out of his depth in the saga of Fr F; practitioners in law and psychology were found wanting." What about our Australian culture at the time, surely the Royal Commission, while not being charged to investigate the foundations of society operative at the time, will it accept submissions that call our nation to an examination of conscience on this matter? Another matter that needs investigating is the forensics behind adults who sexualise children and assault them. What are the cultural marks that have allowed this to happen? What will, should be, our national response to such cultural marks?

Fr Mick Mac Andrew 22 January 2013

Sadly, so sadly, another myopic view of the terrible corruption of the Catholic Church. According to church teaching these are evil and wicked acts, mortal sins. Now we the taxpayers are picking up the bill to have a Royal Commission recommend how an insitution that should know how to behave should conduct is affairs. I despair of a true humility in the face of ovewrwhelming evidence of corruption.

Shane Carmody 22 January 2013

A thoughtful summation! Thank you!

KAM 22 January 2013

The best attitude I've heard so far is the reaction of a NSW police inspector (Peter Fox) when he referred to the Sydney Archbishop as "Mr Pell". The core of the problem is hierarchy being unaccountable to the law of the land and thinking their religious titles give them a right to flaunt not just secular laws, but get around them through religious absolution. To quote from Peter Fox: "Let's not use subtle language such as "errant priests". Let's call them what they are - criminal child molesters. Let's hear the condemnation of those criminals within the clergy, rather than those protective phrases coming out from people like Mr Pell." To quote from Amos: "But let justice roll on like many waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing river."

AURELIUS 22 January 2013

The word "incompetent" suggests not sufficiently skilful to do something successfully. Yet, it seems to me, a very skilful job was completed in destroying vulnerable people, in 'inexplicable' failures and disgraceful treatment of families of victims. For those whose lives have been destroyed, I would suggest that words like "incompetent" and "inexplicable" would bring little comfort. It is to be hoped that the Royal Commission will lead to improvements for the protection of children. And an awareness that our behaviour does have consequences. Consequences that words can't always reach.

Pam 22 January 2013

FR MICK, I recall how innocent Germans referred to "an examination of a nation's conscience and culture" after the Holocaust, to try and explain how such a tragedy could occur.

AURELIUS 22 January 2013

Fr Brennan has provided an excellent and soundly objective account of the Whitlam report, a report which may be found on the website of the Diocese of Parramatta. Thank you for this important contribution to our understanding of what happened in the matter of 'F'.

Fr John Fleming 22 January 2013

My only problem here is the words 'unsuspecting employer'. I suspect that the church's priests, wherever they have stood on the hierarchy, have had plenty of suspicions about child-abusing clergy - even if only rumours about that, which should have been followed up. How could that not be so, considering the occurrence of clergy child-abuse across the whole Catholic church? Ignorance of this kind of possibility cannot be grounds for the church's defence.

Lorraine Parkinson 22 January 2013

I am still hoping the church will recognise its collective desire to protect itself was, by its own standards/commandments, idolatry

rose 22 January 2013

I absolutely agree with Shane Carmody! I can't put it any better!!

Nathalie 22 January 2013

If all social institutions acted on pedophilia allegations in 1984 - with the knowledge they had in 2004 - things would have been very different all around. Psychologists themselves were unaware - in some cases - of the intransigent nature of the disorder. There has been a steep learning curve all around though a reluctant one in many cases, where people have found it too horrifying to focus on. I sense a degree in openness and good will among most people as evidenced in the sense of the tragedy of it all and the desire to implement new and better protocols. Meantime child abuse and trafficking continues in many countries and the police have their occasional victories in stopping it. Child abuse and sexual abuse seem endemic to many human societies - and at least - if too late - we are doing something about it and most of all helping the victims of these horrific events.

Skye 22 January 2013

Fr. Brennan’s article is very timely; two days ago in The Sunday Age (Jan 20) a front page article called “Priest in pulpit after big payout” again indicates the sad attitude of the Church towards sexual abuse. The abuse in this case was not a child but a young disabled woman who was a trapped victim to the power of priestly authority for 14 years. The article said that the priest in question had been given administrative leave, but is now returned to full duties at St. Francis’ Church Melbourne. Victim’s advocate Chris McIsaac is quoted at the end of the article: “A psychiatrist who targeted a patient sexually could face deregistration, so why not a priest?” Priests who are unable to refrain from inappropriate sexual activities should be laicised immediately. The Church is badly out of line with the teachings of Christ, the Vatican needs to let go of its falsly constructed ideals and image in order to restore our trust.

Trish Martin 22 January 2013

If each case (for lack of a better word) of child sexual abuse that comes before the Royal Commission is dealt with the same judicial skill as Mr Antony Whitlam did the Fr F case, then we are in for a long haul. In the end, I believe, much good will come of it. But it will require much patience from every quarter.

Uncle Pat 22 January 2013

"Chances are that, like others of his fellow bishops, he was a man of his times." "Other than Kennedy, most of the senior clergy involved with F appear to have done their job credibly according to the values and practices of the time." We don't say this about the holocaust - that it has to be judged by the practices of the times. We don't say it about slavery. We don't say it about the genocide of indigenous peoples. Yet it seems ok to say this about the Church's handling of pedophilia. I don't know of a time in our history when praying on children was anything other than a crime. If it was badly handled then it deserves condemnation for that very fact, not excuses. That it occurred within the Church, by the very people who should most care for children just makes it more horrific.

Vivienne 22 January 2013

It would appear to this lay observer that any examination of how ‘errant priests’ have been dealt with in the past must go beyond strictures of Bishops who failed to act. These men, sworn to Papal loyalty, were limited in their civil actions by obedience to Canon Law enforced by 5 Popes from 1922 to 2010, with an automatic excommunication for disobedience. In any enquiry orders emanating from Rome must also come under close scrutiny.

Brian 22 January 2013

A most relevant, insightful and timely article, Frank. Paedophilia is something which, a generation or two ago, was put into the "too hard" basket by many in positions of authority. It was, I suspect, a cultural thing. It happened it all Churches; Education Departments; children's homes and similar institutions. It is something we as a nation needed to come to grips with. There have been several notable failures and some successes here. Brian Keon-Cohen QC has expressed the view that, with the new national Royal Commission, the cost and compensation should be met by the institutions responsible for the abuse in proportion to their responsibility. That would really put the cat among the pigeons. It is time many institutions had a good hard look at themselves in the mirror of reality. The Anglican Church in Brisbane, under its current Archbishop, Phillip Aspinall, is probably an excellent model as to how a situation was rectified with compassion and without putting the institution first. So with Catholic Bill Morris in Toowoomba. For Christianity to survive with respect in this country the sea change with regard to authoritarianism needs to continue. There is a difference between proper authority and authoritarianism which many Australian administrators, both religious and secular, have not previously recognised. It is good clergy like you; Michael Kelly and Andrew Hamilton take the lead in writing about this matter in ES. It is not one that can be pushed under the carpet. It needs to be handled and handled well and with compassion. I think many vacant pews in all Australian Churches are due to a perceived public perception of the Churches and how they have dealt with this matter.

Edward F 22 January 2013

Why is it, in this article, that the abused children are named but the offender is not?

B F TYNAN 22 January 2013

Aurelius (and his reminder of Peter Fox`s down to earth approach) seems to hit a major nail right on thre head. When I look at Bishop Kennedy`s photo my immediate reaction is: "why on earth is this man dressed up like that in the late 20th century?"; and why would our Cardinal get the extra handle "His Emminence"? What is the symbolism of all that supposed to mean in the modern world? ...when is the Church going to dump all this bogus medieval princely baggage? The style becomes the message and is just the wrong one; and it gets in the way of core competences!

Eugene 22 January 2013

Father FB, our author, offers anonymity to his fellow Vaticanite 'Father F' and is careful never to identify who he is, while being more than happy to identify one of the victims of Vatican failures. Typical! As for this line, "most of the senior clergy involved with F appear to have done their job credibly according to the values and practices of the time", what a cop out. Finding excuses because they were in accord with 'the values and practices of the time' is grounds to excuse all and any bad behaviour, as someone else has already commented on with the German people's 'shock horror' understanding of what they all (mostly) voted for when they indulged Hitler and ditched democracy. If The Good Book is constant and unvarying in its 'truth' then so should the Vatican and Christianity. Mere mortals and their poor behaviour should not be found to be reflected in such a body as the Body of Christ - the Vatican and its acolytes, be they Popes, cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops or lowly priests. I await the Mullins view (from yesterday) of 'Father F', where we find it was not too much of a problem because we can all forgive and learn from it.

janice wallace 22 January 2013

This is the first and most balanced summation of events that occurred at that time. While denouncing them in the strongest terms, it has to be remembered the understanding of the long term effects of sexual abuse on victims of any age, and the regression of perpetrators, was very limited outside the medical profession. One cannot judge the events of a previous age with the knowledge of the present day.

Judith Gibbs 22 January 2013

I agree with Rose. On this issue Mr Brennan your astute advocacy of vulnerable people is understandably biased. It is so sad the cost has been so great.

Heather Marshall 22 January 2013

Fair go. Frank Brennan can't name Father F for the same reason Whitlam QC can't: his name is suppressed by a court order. It's not too difficult to find out who he is from the many people who counseled Harry Kennedy against his ordination or those who were in the seminary with him 30 years ago. But a court order is a court order and its defiance is in contempt - a punishable offence.

Michael Kelly 22 January 2013

I totally agree with Shane Carmody, Nathalie and Vivienne. While the article is an appraisal of Whitlam's comments, Fr Frank's concentration the times in which these crimes took place seems to excuse an inadequate, improper and arrogant behavior on the part of this particular bishop.

Jeff 22 January 2013

Regardless of the times, regardless of the conferencing of one cleric with another in order to ratify the situation - the facts remain that little credence was given to victims. In fact, I don't hear you mention the victims as such in your exposition. What happened then, is still happening. I know of a priest at this moment, banned from my Diocese, lived with a homosexual partner for six years and I believe, has now been re-instated into priestly duties in the Archdiocese of Sydney. Why would I be surprised?

Shirley McHugh 22 January 2013

I would happily name the offender if the law allowed me. In fact, when the Whitlam Report was first published, it contained an unwitting mention of Fr F’s name. I checked with Church authorities, fully intending to use his name. I was informed that there was a court order suppressing his name. The Church authorities then quite rightly expunged the name from the published version of the Report, and I have refused to publish his name. Once the court suppression order is lifted, I will use his name. This minor incident highlights the need for all of us to respect the rule of law if the reporting and conduct of the royal commission is not to descend into populist preconceptions, impugning the motives even of those who simply want to get to the truth while complying with the law. The rule of law matters to all of us – victims, perpetrators, and those who seek justice, compassion and transparency for all. The good thing about the Whitlam process is that he was able dispassionately to consider people’s actions and systemic failures. His report deserves the closest consideration, rather than blanket pre-judgment of all clerics.

Frank Brennan SJ 22 January 2013

Frank, the point on the law is well said and needed to be said. However, your final statement about "blanket pre-judgement of all clerics" seems very odd as I didn't read most (if any) comments as suggesting that all clerics were being judged. I wonder why you felt the need to say that??

Vivienne 22 January 2013

@Frank Brennan

That's why it would be opportune to leave this kind of reporting to the Royal Commission, wouldn't you think??

Liz 22 January 2013


Fr.Brennan, whilst I believe you have written a very balanced summary of the Whitlam report I am concerned that a priest may not be an "employee" at law and if not then the legal implications/ramifications thereof could well turn the Royal Commission from the highly "lawyers picnic" into a "Legal Roman" orgy! There is some case law in this regard, but as I'm retired I don't have access to the citations.

G.H. 22 January 2013

Great piece, Frank! Three things stand out in your discussion and one in the comments (Trish Martin).
First, how refreshing to find that someone, Justice Whitlam has approached his enquiry without preconceived opinion and report on facts rather than on emotive feelings.

john frawley 22 January 2013

The common ground with USA abuse catastrophe is the near zero consideration re bishops in the past, steadfastly advised, by psychiatrists etc. to endlessly recycle pedophile clergy with guarantees of clearance as cured. Such an approach is still harmonized with that highly authoritative American Psychological Society sanctioned DSM-IV Pesychiatric Manual. Such does not diagnose pedophiles as mentally disturbed unless their depraved acts cause 'pedos' depression and anxiety.[then relaxation therapy[in situ?] is invoked. The APA has not paid $2 billion compensation, as have USA bishops for letting lose pedophile clergy. Australian Psychiatrists and ilk could well face close scrutiny at the Royal Commission for disastrous advice to bishops and religious provincials.

Father John George 22 January 2013

Great stuff Frank Keep it coming I think the Cardinal needs to apopoiny you or similar to deal with all matters relating to the Royal Commission He is clearly not up to it And has an unfortunate public presence

Peter Hoban 22 January 2013

The USA psychiatrics of notorious fr geoghan,who abused hundreds of children: "Psychiatrist Dr Swords complied with a placating letter whose tone was markedly more positive than that of his initial report: "Let me first say that we judge Father Geoghan to be clinically quite safe to resume his pastoral ministry after observation, evaluation and treatment here for three months. The probability that he would sexually act out again is quite low. However, we cannot guarantee that it could not re-occur. It is both reasonable and therapeutic for him to be reassigned back to his parish." He added, "The clinical decision to have him resume his pastoral ministry was ours, but the final administrative decision had to be yours." This apparently satisfied BISHOP Banks, who, in a reply to Swords, called the clarification "very helpful."[CF BISHOP ACCOUNTABILITY] A year later, Swords had a followup meeting with Geoghan at the institute, after which he wrote to Banks, "From what I could gather he continues to do well and remains psychologically fit for pastoral work in general, including children. He monitors himself well and from what he tells me has his sex drive under firm control."

Father John George 22 January 2013

To Nathalie, I do not agree with Shane Carmody. Our Holy Catholic Church is not corrupt; it is those inside the Church that are corrupt. In the past, our enemies were Communism and Protestantism. Today Communism is dying and Protestants are our friends. They were the ones who stood outside the Cinemas in a peaceful protest to the blasphemous films about Our Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus. I have a great respect and admiration for Fred Nile, than some Catholics who want to change the teachings of Our Holy Catholic Faith to suit their chosen life-style and depict Our Holy Catholic Church as corrupt.

Ron Cini 22 January 2013

GH the employee status of clergy has been hotly contested in courts.eg re vatican: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Federal-court-rules-Vatican-does-not-hold-employee-relationship-with-priests---POLL-167165445.html

Father John George 23 January 2013

Rob Cini, I am not saying "the church is corrupt" - but your opinion that somehow individual corrupt members of the church cannot influence the nature of the church is not a good and godly perspective (in my opinion) The church IS the people (it's members) so therefore the church is also fallible. If you follow your fundamentally flawed reasoning to its logical conclusion, then there's no way you can claim to be in fellowship with Protestants. Ecumenism requires an acceptance that our churches are fallible (ie of human creation and therefore capable of being corrupted)

AURELIUS 23 January 2013

FATHER GEORGE - Us lay sinners, whether we be petty pickpockets or serial rapists, don't get the luxury of a psychological evaluation before the police and legal system steps in to make a judgment. Why should priests?

AURELIUS 23 January 2013

While mandatory reporting should lessen the disastrous grip of psychiatric evaluation on pedophile offenders,nonetheless psychological evaluation emerges again with parole boards with mixed results Thus PROF Robert Hare as international specialist on psychopathy notes a fatal confusion re parole boards and indeed death-row. As judicial systems confuse anti social personalities[not essentially recidivist] with incurable sociopath/psychopathic personalities[with ensuing and grave injustice at parole board at least http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/dsm-iv/content/article/10168/54831 Ireiterate psychiatric accountability at the Royal Commission

Father John George 23 January 2013

Father John George, Sorry, but the content of your latest posting is neither here nor there. Why indeed, should priests be granted special treatment?

JR 24 January 2013

Aurelius laity has available a booming industry of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, psychologists, therapist at a phone call away. The Catholic Church also furnishes such for needy [laity or not at e.g. Centrecare and hospitals, etc.] Aurelius what you call a clergy privilege, I and others argue has,on pedophile issue,been a disaster.

Father John George 24 January 2013

At its heart this is yet another defensive article on the church's history of dealing with child sex abuse. Issues not addressed include: Was the psychologist employed by the church or an agency of the church? and What cultural power play was at work in convincing the magistrate to be swayed more by the priest than the victim?

Ellen 25 January 2013

Apparently "recidivist" is the new fancy term for "repeat offender" or "serial rapist". Do we really need a psychiatrist for this? (It should not even have happened once if priests followed their religious convictions - I know many psychologically burdened people who would not kill a fly.

AURELIUS 25 January 2013

Father Brennan, I have found all your articles informative. Could you, however, comment on the role of Canon Law and its apparent contribution to `cover-up` Perhaps a separate article might be appropriate. Thank you

John Casey 25 January 2013

Aurelius!
People with religious certainties do sin[thus confessionals]. Psychiatric reports are given eg. to parole boards re release of criminals Such hopefully competent type reports can advise also a bishop re recycling offending priest in limited ministry[provided an offender, eg alcoholic, etc.-is already responsive to therapy.

father john george 25 January 2013

JOHN CASEY[A CANONICAL PERSEPECTIVE] "BEFORE DALLAS: THE U.S. BISHOPS' RESPONSE TO CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN. By Nicholas P. Cafardi. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist, 2008. Pp. xii + 255. $27.95." [Below is a cut paste job of review of above historico canonical angle from 'theol stud'] "Cafardi ON ABUSE ISSUE tries to make a case for the neglect of the canonical, penal solution; the failure to use the time-honored canon laws of the Church is really to blame for the whole mess." "This book is a "historical synopsis and canonical analysis of the American bishops' original response to the sex abuse crisis that convulsed the Church in the United States from 1984 to approximately 1994" (ix). C. achieves that goal admirably. His careful exposition of the relevant canons could have been used to ameliorate many of the situations the bishops confronted, and, at the same time, provides a searing indictment of church leadership." "C. decries the triumph of the therapeutic model on which the bishops fell back. Therapists at just about all the major treatment facilities for clergy take their share of knocks here. C. admits, though, that "the treatment option was certainly better than what the bishops had been doing before they turned to therapy" (127)--that is, nothing much at all. The penal solution could and should have been used more regularly, C. insists--" frjg adds[given mandatory reporting more work is needed in integrating canon and civil laws]

Father John George 29 January 2013

There is no excuse for allowing Father F near children after it was known that he had sexually abused children. Its a no brainer. It is a crime not to do so. Its an outrage and shows the clergys total disrespect for the children and their families & total denial about the criminality of the abuse. Also so clear that all they care about is protecting themselves. I am furious with Whitlams pathetic coclusions but how bloody predictable.

Cindy O'Keeffe 01 February 2013

While I without reserve concur that this was/is a harrowing case, I again underscore the oft 'silent factor' in CSA, viz the pivotal role of psychologists[in fact fact "Mr. Boyle,psychologist" catastrophically gave fr f the 'all clear'! ] In The Royal Commission, I want resolute attention given to the unthinking [?] 'cover up abettors' viz psychologists and ilk.[Such in no way detracts from the apparent clerical torpidity in this instance.]

Father John George 01 February 2013

In the present Los Angeles Cardinal Mahoney court investigation,interesting comment is made re mandatory reporting: "In a 2010 deposition, Mahony acknowledged the archdiocese had never called police to report sexual abuse by a priest before 2000. He said church officials were unable to do so because they didn’t know the names of the children harmed. “In my experience, you can only call the police when you’ve got victims you can talk to,” Mahony said. When an attorney for an alleged victim suggested “the right thing to do” would have been to summon police immediately, Mahony replied, “Well, today it would. But back then that isn’t the way those matters were approached.” Since clergy weren’t legally required to report suspected child abuse until 1997, Mahony said, the people who should have alerted police about pedophiles like Baker and Wempe were victims’ therapists or other “mandatory reporters” of child abuse."

Father John George 03 February 2013

I have just finished reading 'The Case of the Pope' by Geoffrey Robertson.A paperback published by Penguin. What a read & an eye opener. Very relevant to the subject of sexual abuse of children. I can highly recommend it.

Marion McAndrew 06 February 2013

What a disappointing cop-out, Fr Brennan.

aurora 25 September 2013

after legalising homosexuality whats next legalise phaedophilia would that be on un charter that we can not deprive human being of their sexual needs just because they different

litle boy 01 November 2013

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