Ronald Mulkearns’ Sin Was Putting Church Ahead of Children
By John Ferguson
April 5, 2016
As far as we will ever know, Ronald Mulkearns never molested anyone.
But through his cover-up of priests who did, the former bishop of Ballarat arguably inflicted more damage on children under his care than any other figure in the Catholic Church in Australia.
Such was his culpability that Mulkearns will go down on a world scale as having created a system in which paedophilia could thrive.
His death presents the modern church with a dilemma: how to farewell a servant of the church who got it so wrong, while honouring the faith’s core belief of forgiveness.
Those who say Mulkearns was all bad will get it wrong, but his gravest sin was to put the church ahead of the children.
The church, from the 1950s until the extent of the sex-abuse scandal became known in the 1990s, was powerfully proficient at covering up offending, aided by compliant community attitudes.