Thursday, 4 September 2008

Public Statement of Fr John Fleming

Sentire Cum Ecclesia (picked up by Cath News) has provided this text of a statement by Fr Fleming on the recent accusations against him, and I thought it useful to disseminate widely:

"The Sunday Mail said today that I am the subject of a police investigation.

I know nothing of any such investigation. No police officer or other person has ever to this day approached me in relation to any criminal investigation: I have seen no statements: I have been given no particulars of any kind by anyone of any alleged criminal behavior. I know nothing about any such investigation having ever occurred.

I am shocked and sickened by what has been written about me in this article. I will deal with the three allegations contained in it separately.

Firstly, as to the allegation relating to “Jane” I utterly refute that I have ever engaged in sexual or other inappropriate behavior with a minor. It is an outrageous lie for anyone to suggest otherwise. As I have been told nothing of this person’s identity or her circumstances or of what I’m alleged to have done to her, I cannot respond with more particularity. I can only say that the allegations are totally false and I can say that because I have never behaved this way to any person. It is a wicked attack upon my character and upon my reputation. I urge “Jane” to go to the police immediately if she has not already done so.

Secondly, as to the allegation relating to “Jenny”, while the particulars given are very scant, enough is revealed in relation to this allegation for me to identify the alleged “victim” as a woman known to me from previous unsubstantiated allegations made by her to my church.

She does not even allege on her own account anything that could constitute criminal behavior. But further than that, I utterly refute any allegation of any inappropriate behavior of any kind, sexual or otherwise, in relation to her.

She was a troubled young woman who I met as a member of my Anglican congregation at St Paul’s Church in the 1970s. She was well known to my wife and to many other members of the congregation for the profoundly mistaken and inappropriate assumptions she made as to the nature of the assistance I was offering her. Her complaint, such that it was, was dealt with appropriately by the Vicar General of the Church over twelve years ago. She took it no further until 2004 when she wrote to Cardinal Pell. She refused to take up the opportunity subsequently -offered her at the Cardinal’s request by my local bishop to have the matter reinvestigated.

If there is any substance in the suggestion that she has approached the police I welcome the opportunity to deal with her false allegations finally and comprehensively.

Finally, as to the allegations relating to “Richard”, I utterly refute the suggestion in the article that at any time there was any impropriety in the discharge of my responsibilities as a counsellor or priest. It is utterly false to suggest we were in any kind of a “relationship” for six years. He, too, was a member of my St Paul’s congregation. He and his wife later became close friends of my wife and I. Our relationships became personally complicated but I had thought we had remained friends. He attended my ordination as a priest in 1995. His marriage was subsequently annulled following the processes of the Marriage Tribunal of the Church and he is now openly homosexual.

I cannot understand what has caused him to participate in this false attack upon me. I am shocked and dismayed at what he is alleged to have said.

As to the contentions in the article that there has been any irregularity or impropriety of any kind associated with my ordination as a priest or with my appointment to my present academic role, they are totally false and I utterly refute them.

I welcome the investigation by Mr. Abbott QC as to these matters which Archbishop Wilson in Adelaide has apparently commissioned, though I knew nothing of it until I read about it in the article. I will co-operate fully with it and with any other investigation.

I have retained the best legal advice to assist me in responding to this outrageous attack upon me.

Over the years I know that some have been discomforted with my personal exposition of my understanding of my faith. We live in an age of increasing hostility, particular in sections of the media, to the Church and its teaching. It remains possible that this may explain in part this terrible attack upon me. There may be more mercenary explanations. I am determined to find out.

In accordance with long — established protocol in the church, it is appropriate that I stand down from my duties as a priest while these investigations are undertaken and completed. Similarly, and because I do not wish to cause any distraction or inconvenience to the wonderful College of which I am President or to its student body, I will not resume my duties at the college until these investigations have been brought to an end.

Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for their support at this time.

I will not be offering further comment until the investigations are complete."

Campion College (of which Fr Fleming is President) has also released a statement on the subject, which can be read here.

If you want to read the original claims (though I wouldn't advise it) you can them here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, Dr F. will sue many media organisations and various individuals in defamation once this is over, if he is proved innocent of any wrongdoing (as I have little doubt he will be).

We need to draw the blood of the church's enemies (financially, at first).

+ Thomas Wolsey

Archieps Eborac, etc