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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Former Australian Bishop Says Not Sure Pedophilia was a Crime

BANGKOK - Former Catholic bishop Ronald Mulkearns said Thursday when he had to tackle child abuse cases involving priests in his diocese in Australia, he knew it was wrong but was not sure if it was a crime, local press reported.

Mulkearns, 85, made an appearance through video-conference at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which is investigating responses from religious, public and educative institutions to pederasty in recent decades in Australia.

The former bishop of Ballarat diocese (1971-1996), in the southeastern state of Victoria, said he never directly asked priests if they had abused minors, but knew about it through reports from psychologists, according to ABC news.

At least 14 priests were denounced in 130 cases of child abuse from the 1960s to the 1980s, and many of the victims committed suicide due to the trauma.

Gerald Francis Ridsdale, one of the abusers, was sentenced to eight years in 2014 for several cases of pedophilia, including one involving his own nephew, between 1961 and 1981.

For decades, the alleged offenders were transferred to another diocese but were never reported to the police.

"I didn't really know what to do or how to do it. There were problems with the priests in the diocese and I didn't seem to be handling them as well as I should have. And I'd like to say if I may that I'm terribly sorry that I didn't do things differently in that time," the former bishop said before the Commission in Sydney.

He added that he decided to retire in 1997 because of this reason.

On Sunday night (Monday morning in Australia), George Pell, Australian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and the inaugural and current Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, is due to appear before the commission through video-conferencing from Rome.

 

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