An inquiry into the alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse committed by Maitland and Newcastle Catholic priests will reopen to hear evidence from two of the church’s most senior officials.
The special commission of inquiry will reconvene in Sydney on September 9 when the general-secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Brian Lucas, and the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Monsignor John Usher, will give evidence.
Father Lucas gave evidence to the inquiry during its eight weeks of public hearings that wrapped up in Newcastle earlier this month.
He said between 1990 and 1995 he heard of 35 complaints against priests while working on a team established to persuade paedophile priests to resign.
Father Lucas was also part of a committee that designed protocol for bishops in dealing with allegations of criminal behaviour in the 1980s and 1990s.
Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, who was due to hand down her findings on September 30, was granted an extension last week to report to the NSW government on February 28 next year.
Commissioner Cunneen is investigating the circumstances in which Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, whose allegations of a church cover-up sparked the inquiry, was asked to stop investigating certain matters.
The inquiry is concentrating on two Hunter paedophile priests, Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher, both now dead.
Commissioner Cunneen is also examining the extent to which Catholic church officials co-operated with police, including whether any investigation was hindered by the failure to report criminal offences.