A Hunter priest has blamed general anaesthetic for memory lapses about the events surrounding paedophilia within the Maitland Newcastle Catholic diocese.
In a tedious morning of cross-examination at the special commission of inquiry into alleged sexual abuse cover-ups by the church, Father William Burston, answered more than 40 questions by saying he did not recall or remember.
Following the morning adjournment, counsel assisting the inquiry, David Kell, asked Father Burston if he suffered memory problems.
The priest said he believed he did but had no seen a doctor about it and presumed it was the effects of 10 general anaesthetics administered to him.
Mr Kell remarked to Father Burston that his memory was precise on some aspects and not on others. The priest agreed.
He denied Mr Kell's suggestion that he was being deliberately selective with his memory, telling the inquiry his entire memory is affected "full stop", not just matters surrounding the diocese.
Father Burston was questioned about events, letters, media releases and conversations regarding paedophile priests Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher throughout the 1970s to 2004.
Despite having almost no memory about when he first learnt of the allegations against McAlinden, Father Burston was able to remember the events surrounding the 2002 allegations against Fletcher.
He explained that the accusations against Fletcher stuck in his mind because he was a friend and McAlinden was just another priest of the diocese.
The inquiry continues.