US Church Paid to Cover Sins of Priest
By Dan Box
December 1, 2012
THE AMERICAN Catholic church paid tens of thousands of dollars to the US victims of an Australian pedophile priest after they agreed not to pursue legal action against the Australian bishop who sent him there.
Evidence of this international agreement is contained in documents, seen by The Weekend Australian, which show the former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, sent the priest overseas despite receiving repeated warnings of his crimes against children.
The documents include a 1992 letter from Emeritus Bishop Mulkearns to an American cleric, detailing two such allegations against the priest, Father Paul David Ryan, and asking "what options there might be for him to minister . . . in the US".
As a result of the allegations against Father Ryan, "he feels that it is now impossible for him to work in the diocese . . . I agreed with this assessment", the unsigned letter said..
In another, signed, letter written to Father Ryan a year before, the bishop said he had received an allegation the priest had abused a young boy and "obviously there is the potential for some scandal".
Father Ryan, who could not be contacted last night, was also moved between parishes within Victoria, where he also abused children, one of whom later committed suicide.
In 2006, he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two teenage boys.
Bishop Mulkearns, who did not respond to calls yesterday, has previously told The Weekend Australian he had "no recollection" of being told Father Ryan abused children.
"I'm not saying it didn't happen. I suffered a stroke and I'm an old man," the 82-year-old said.
The earliest evidence of Father Ryan's sexual activities is contained in a 1977 letter sent from the seminary where he studied to become a priest, detailing "the harm he may have done to some of the younger students here . . . naive, innocent boys".
He was subsequently sent to the US for what Bishop Mulkearns described as "treatment" for his homosexuality, and later worked as a parish priest in Virginia.
The priest went on to make visits to the US over three decades, where he allegedly abused at least three young boys.
One of these victims yesterday said he had since discussed pursuing a criminal prosecution against the priest with US authorities.
"I hope there's still a chance he'll see justice in this world," the man said.
During the 1990s, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, made confidential financial payments to a number of Father Ryan's victims.
These were agreed on the condition the recipients did not pursue legal action against several named church officials in both countries, including Father Ryan and Bishop Mulkearns.
Father Ryan left the church in 1993, although the diocese continued to provide him with money and did not report the allegations against him to police.