Tuesday, 31 July 2012

First prosecution of bishops in Australia?

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today that a 'brief of evidence' and an investigator's report in relation to the cover up of a series of cases in Maitland-Newcastle diocese will be given to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the next few weeks.  According to the SMH, it will name Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, now retired Bishop Malone of Maitland-Newcastle, and ACBC General Secretary Fr Brian Lucas (also named in the current Armidale Fr F case investigation).

The case relates to the laicization of Fr Denis McLinden, alleged perpetrator of abuse against many girls in the diocese over several decades, in the early 1990s.  The then bishop, Leo Clarke apparently promised protection to the abuser:

"Your good name will be protected by the confidential nature of this process", despite "your admission to Father Brian Lucas and other evidence".

"A speedy resolution of this whole matter will be in your own good interests as I have it on very good authority that some people are threatening seriously to take this whole matter to the police," Bishop Clarke's letter said.

The alleged knowledge of Archbishop Wilson (immediate past  President of the Australian Bishops' Conference) of other Maitland-Newcastle cases (he was a priest of Australia's most notorious diocese so far as the abuse scandal goes for over twenty years, notary in the McLinden case and Vicar General there from 1987) has been the subject of an ABC Four Corners Report.  According to the SMH, he has exercized his right to silence and declined to be interviewed by police on the McLinden matter.

McLinden died in 2005, and Bishop Clarke died in 2006.  Bishop Malone resigned at the age of 71 last year.


Robert said...

God willing, every single OzChurch pervert (lay or clerical), and every single OzChurch stooge (lay or clerical) of perverts, is now sweating bullets at the Hunter Valley turn of events.

Perverts and their stooges can run but they can't hide.

Oh yes, and it now emerges that the former South Australian "Catholic" Police Minister - you know, the one who officially doesn't go by the name which the proverbial pet-shop galah must be familiar with by now - was hit during June with aggravated kiddie porn charges:


Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke.

Anonymous said...


I wonder under what section of what statute any proseuction will be brought, and what the mens rea is??

It might be a tough one for the prosecution to make out.

+ Wolsey

A Canberra Observer said...

An ugly turn of events whatever transpires. One which the Church will struggle to recover from for many a long day I suggest, regardless of the truth of the matter.

And with that thought in mind, I wouldn't be so quick to lynch the unfortunate person to which Robert refers.

Keith said...

+ Wolsey, do you seriously think that the police would charge into this sort of exercise half-prepared? Every police officer's worst nightmare is the dread that his case won't prove watertight in the courtroom, and that an entirely guilty person will get off scot-free because some shonk of a defence barrister picks holes in the arrest procedure. Failure to sign a warrant in quintuplicate or something.

Quite frankly, if forced to choose between trusting the average cop and trusting the average Australian bishop, I'll take the average cop any time.

A Canberra Observer said...

Keith, I think court transcripts etc will prove that there are numerous occasions on which the police have brought charges or heralded an investigation which came to nought.

That may be viewed as unfortunate from a number of views - perhaps because justice was not done and perpetrators went free, the police did not have a sound case to begin with, or perhaps even were 'over zealous'.

PM said...

And will someone investigate the NSW police for turning a blind eye to the under-age meat market at The Wall in Darlinghurst for all these years? Or the protection of powerful figures in the law? By all means let's have a royal commission but not confined to the church, much as it needs a good cleanout.

While we're at it, can we finally call to account the clowns posing as moral theologians who have been assuring us that there's no such thing as an intrinsically evil act?

Anonymous said...


I'm a lawyer, I know what I'm on about here.

It could be that, and I suspect that, the boundaries of the law are being tested. In which case, there's an element of a lucky-dip about the whole thing.

+ Wolsey

Kate Edwards said...

Wolsey - The reports say that s316 of the NSW Crimes Act is the relevant provision:

"If a person has committed a serious indictable offence and another person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that he or she has information which might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the offender or the prosecution or conviction of the offender for it fails without reasonable excuse to bring that information to the attention of a member of the Police Force or other appropriate authority, that other person is liable to imprisonment for 2 years..."

(The penalty can be 5 yrs if a consideration is involved).

I believe it is a provision that has been tested before, albeit not on the church, though it was considered in the case of another Newcastle VG, ultimately deemed to old to prosecute.

Could it be that the antagonistic secular state will ultimately be doing the Church a favour, just as Julian the Apostate did when he rid the Church of all those Arian bishops?

Anonymous said...

Anyone guilty of crime should be punished. That, however, won't sufficiently deal with the problem of homosexuals within the ranks of the clergy. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if nothing much comes of any police investigation - pervert priests almost certainly, through the gay network, have all the dirt on pervert judges, prosecutors, police, politicians and deviants in most professions. Once they threaten to spill the beans, the police and/or the DPP will suddenly decide there's just not enough evidence to prosecute, or the offence is too stale.

+ Wolsey

Robert said...

A Canberra Observer, I don't think anyone except yourself has invoked the concept of lynching, and I can't think of a single occasion in my life on which I've advocated it. (Surely such advocacy be the sort of thing which one would remember doing?)

But, putting aside such poker-playing gambits as + Wolsey's "I'm a lawyer" (not necessarily a cause for inordinate pride, I'd have thought, in this era of ambulance-chasing TV dramas ...), the fact is: the analogy with Julian the Apostate and the Arians is germane.

Until fairly recently millions upon millions of Catholics, myself among them, assumed that all the horrific crimes by perverted priests - to say nothing of at least one South Australian politician - were mere fantasies invented by Titus Oates, Maria Monk, the Ku Klux Klan, etc. Not the least mortifying aspect of the whole moral squalor is this: if Catholics can't, ultimately, trust their hierarchs, then the whole Catholic case against Protestantism falls to the ground.

American religious journalist Rod Dreher (of the Orthodox communion, I believe) makes a very good point. I quote:

"Do we really want to go back to a time when the media covered up for the president’s sex life, à la Kennedy? ... You cannot have a society in which all authority is radically suspect. Things will fall apart. At some point, most people have to suspend their disbelief. But who? At what point? And at what cost?"

These are legitimate questions. What + Wolsey has given us so far is not legitimate questioning at all, but mere ad hominem parrying.

Mr Dreher's whole piece is here:


Kate Edwards said...

Robert - Though I basically agree with your sentiments, I'd have to disagree with you on the Catholic case against Protestantism colllapsing as a result of these events.

The holiness of the Church does not necessarily reside in individuals, be they hierarchs or not, as indeed the case of the Arian bishops, when the whole world was (last) engulfed in heresy, and the many dark eras in Church history since attest.

Robert said...

Thanks Kate. I perhaps laid insufficient stress, in what I originally said, on the word "case".

Of course, within Catholicism, the office is ultimately more important than individuals ("be they," in your own words, "hierarchs or not"). But how does one convey that truth to a hostile Australia in 2012, i.e. how does one, literally, expound a case for it? Wish I knew.

It was easier to convey such ideas (even to Catholicism's foes) when a culture of all-round societal deference prevailed. In the New South Wales of my childhood and adolescence - which wasn't all that long ago! - not only bishops, but doctors, surgeons, lawyers, and judges, benefited from such deference towards their offices.

Now that culture has gone - forever, I should think - and I see nothing except majoritarianism even attempting to replace it. Probably in Australia 99% of people nowadays (including lots of persons who purport to be Catholics) seriously suppose that Christianity, including its most demanding moral codes, is really all about democracy and majority voting. After all, everything else in modern Australian society is (sport perhaps excepted). Which undercuts the whole concept of authority, and therefore of hierarchical authority, with greater success than almost any other mindset can do.

Aurora said...

Robert - I take issue and offense at your assumption regarding President Kennedy. There is not a single shred of evidence that the calumny against him is true - keep in mind that hearsay is not evidence. See the article below about forger Lex Cusack sentenced to ten years:


The other main source of these lies are the kind of evil men that had JFK's head blown off in broad daylight. There's a great essay out there entitled "JFK was good, that's why they killed him."

May the truth always prevail