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Bishop accused of distancing himself from information of abuse to ‘protect church’

Posted December 14, 2015 19:06:20

A Catholic bishop has been accused of attempting to protect himself and the church although giving proof at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Kid Sexual Abuse.

Bishop Brian Finnigan was among a group of priests who handled complaints of paedophilia amongst priests in the Ballarat Diocese in the 1980s.

Counsel Assisting the Commission Angus Stewart SC asked the bishop why his evidence in a private hearing earlier this year differed from his evidence in public hearings right now and last Friday.

“The evidence that you have given for the royal commission on Friday and indeed this morning has not been given in such a way that you have sought to help the royal commission and the public to recognize the history of Gerald Ridsdale in the Diocese of Ballarat,” he put to Bishop Finnigan.

Bishop Finnigan replied that his intention was “certainly not to create confusion”.

Bishop Finnigan: “If I have designed confusion due to the fact of my numerous methods of expressing things all I can say is ‘I’m sorry’.”

Angus Stewart SC: “I say to you bishop that in your evidence in this public hearing you have consistently distanced yourself from any expertise of youngster sexual assault by priests of the dioceses to protect your self and to defend the church – is not that right?”

Bishop Finnigan: I wouldn’t agree with that.

Earlier, Mr Stewart read from a transcript of an interview Bishop Finnigan gave in 1993 to the Catholic Church’s insurers, asking the bishop to confirm the truth of his answers.

Each Mr Stewart and the commission chair Justice Peter McLellan expressed aggravation with the bishop’s inability to do so.

Justice McLellan: “You told me the other day that you answered truthfully, did not you?”

Bishop Finnigan: “Yes I did answer truthfully. I wasn’t producing up stories, but at the exact same time I didn’t think about [the church insurance coverage interview] a formal interview beneath oath or something like that.”

Justice McLellan: “You wouldn’t see the obligation to tell the truth to a CCI [Catholic Church Insurance coverage] investigator in the exact same light.”

Bishop Finnigan: “I would envision that I was attempting to tell the truth of what I knew at the time but I’m happy to acknowledge now the really loose statements that I created.”

Priests’ celibacy led to immaturity

In other proof, a Catholic priest said the require to stay celibate led to a level of immaturity inside the priesthood and contributed to the church’s inability to recognise paedophilia within its ranks.

Father John McKinnon acknowledged he failed victims by not questioning why numerous colleagues were moved about the Ballarat Diocese throughout the 1970s and 80s.

I occasionally wonder no matter whether the fact that we are celibate signifies that we miss out on that standard incentive to grow.

Father John McKinnon

Father McKinnon stated he was not conscious of the paedophilia issue until the late 1980s and did not question choices made by Bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

He mentioned a cultural immaturity within the priesthood meant priests advising the bishop were not sensitive to the possibility youngster abuse was the cause some colleagues have been becoming moved.

He believes immaturity stemmed from the truth several priests went straight from college to a secluded life in the seminary, a extremely diverse life to young men their age.

“Most fellows would have had the opportunity to cope with falling in adore and negotiating relationships and some would have grown and had their personal households and so on and once again creating that capacity, that sensitivity to a youngster and that sense of sacredness of the child,” Father McKinnon said.

“I at times wonder whether the fact that we are celibate signifies that we miss out on that standard incentive to grow.

“I consider it would be greater if there had been ladies among the consulters and women in positions of leadership since I think they would be instinctively sensitive to these issues when we weren’t.”

The hearing continues.

Topics: royal-commissions, law-crime-and-justice, youngster-abuse, neighborhood-and-society, religion-and-beliefs, catholic, melbourne-3000, ballarat-3350, mortlake-3272

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