Diocese response to child sex inquiry findings

Bishop Bill Wright will provide the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese response to the Special Commission of Inquiry’s damning findings into the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Hunter Region tomorrow morning.

Bishop Bill Wright will provide the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese response to the Special Commission of Inquiry’s damning findings into the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Hunter region tomorrow morning.

Bishop Bill Wright will provide the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese response to the Special Commission of Inquiry’s damning findings into the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse in the Hunter region tomorrow morning.

Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC handed down her findings on Friday and determined that a number of senior Catholic clergy intentionally misled investigations and were unreliable witnesses. 

Three of the four volumes of the report were made public on Friday.

Ms Cunneen said the fourth volume remained confidential in order to protect potential future criminal proceedings or until a decision had been made that they should not proceed.

Monsignor Allan Hart, Father William Burston and former Newcastle Catholic bishop Michael Malone all came under fire in the report.

Monsignor Hart and Father Burston were described as unimpressive witnesses in regards to their testimony concerning the sexual abuse carried out by Father Denis McAlinden.

Mr Malone’s dealings with disgraced priest Father James Fletcher were also questioned. 

Ms Cunneen said that police detective inspector Peter Fox, who instigated the commission, had been found to have exaggerated evidence, been deliberately untruthful at times and had become obsessed about the Catholic Church and alleged conspiracies involving senior police.

Ms Cunneen thanked the victims and family members, who assisted the commission, in a statement on Friday.

“Victims (often appropriately called “survivors”) and family members have contributed enormously to the work of the commission,” she said.

“I will be forever grateful for their assistance and their willingness to let their voices be heard.”

Ms Cunneen said she hoped their involvement with the commission would help in the process of healing and in releasing the “guilt collar” that some victims spoke of.

She also reiterated that no shame was attached to the victims.

“It squarely belongs with the perpetrators of the abuse, and those who concealed their abhorrent crimes.”

Bishop Wright will make a formal statement at a press conference in Newcastle tomorrow at 9.30am.

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