Private Funeral for Victorian Bishop
By Megan Neil
April 6, 2016
A former Victorian bishop who moved pedophile priests between parishes will have a small and private funeral.
Bishop Ronald Mulkearns died before completing his evidence to the child abuse royal commission about the Catholic Church's handling of pedophile priests during his 1971-1997 years in charge of the Ballarat diocese.
Bishop Mulkearns, a priest for 60 years, died from cancer in his Ballarat nursing home on Monday, aged 85.
A funeral mass will be held on Monday morning in the Nazareth House Nursing Home's chapel.
Current Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird said the gathering would be for family and close friends.
Ballarat clergy abuse victim Stephen Woods this week said Bishop Mulkearns' funeral should be a small and subdued affair as there were many people whose lives had been "torn asunder by the catastrophic effects of his decisions".
The commission has heard Bishop Mulkearns knew pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale and others were sexually abusing children and moved them between parishes, and he also destroyed documents in Ridsdale's file.
Bishop Mulkearns told the commission he was sorry and regretted he did not deal with pedophile priests properly, saying he was trying to protect the church's reputation and stop further offending.
His evidence was limited to a 90-minute session in February on medical advice and a further hearing had not been scheduled.
The commission will now hold a directions hearing in Sydney next Wednesday to deal with outstanding issues regarding the bishop's evidence, which was to complete the public hearing into Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat.
The commission will also set a further hearing date for its inquiry into the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne's handling of child abuse, so four former officers of the Catholic Education Office can give evidence.
Cardinal George Pell has told the commission he heard about sexual misconduct allegations against Doveton parish priest Peter Searson in 1989, while a Melbourne auxiliary bishop, but was deceived by education officials who said they had been dealt with appropriately.