Little Legacy Lost after School Wipes Former Archbishop's Name from School Building
By Melissa Cunningham
December 6, 2017
Former Melbourne Archbishop Frank Little will have his name removed from a building at his old school for his role in orchestrating a culture of secrecy that allowed scores of children to be sexually abused by Catholic clergy.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered a withering assessment of the Melbourne archdiocese's handling of clerical abuse on Tuesday, with much of its opprobrium reserved for Archbishop Little.
St Patrick's College in Ballarat said it would remove Archbishop Little's name from a building which had been named in his honour and revoke his status as an inducted Legend of the College on Wednesday.
Headmaster John Crowley said Archbishop Little had abjectly failed to exercise proper care for the children entrusted to him, which did not align with the college's expectations around child protection.
"The findings demonstrate that Archbishop Little's behaviours do not meet these expectations," Mr Crowley said.
"The college hopes to role model, at every opportunity, responses that embody our child protection expectations and obligations in support of our mission of raising fine boys to the status of great men."
The royal commission found that Archbishop Little led a culture of secrecy in the Melbourne archdiocese designed to hide complaints against several priests and protect the church's reputation from scandal.
|St Patrick's College headmaster John Crowley with former student Peter Blenkiron. Blenkiron survived years of sexual abuse while a pupil at the Catholic school. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer|
"We are satisfied that the evidence ... showed a prevailing culture of secrecy within the Archdiocese, led by Archbishop Little," the royal commission found.
"Complaints were dealt with in a way that sought to protect the Archdiocese from scandal and liability and prioritised the interests of the Church over those of the victims."
|Former Melbourne Archbishop Frank Little to have his name erased from history of his former college |
Archbishop Little's inaction over Doveton parish priest Father Peter Searson left children at risk of harm, including sexual harm, and had catastrophic human consequences, the commission also found.
The hearing previously heard Searson brandished a gun and made children kneel between his legs when they went to confession and killed a bird with a screwdriver in front of pupils.
Despite being aware of mounting complaints about Searson's "unpleasant, strange, aggressive and violent and sexual conduct" with children, Archbishop Little failed to remove him.
Last year, the college put a black line through paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale's name on a board honouring former students who went on to take holy orders.
The school has also placed a plaque beneath it, which reads: "The black line above stands both as a symbol of respect to the bravery of victims and survivors, and for the college's deep remorse."
Ridsdale was convicted in 1993 of more than 100 charges of sexual abuse against children over a period of about 30 years.
In 2014, The Australian Catholic University's Aquinas campus also dumped former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns' name from its lecture theatre for his failure to act on paedophile priests.
Bishop Mulkearns was the first bishop in Ballarat's history to not be buried in the crypt at the local Cathedral.
The church said after his death last year, it had decided on a simple service given the controversy regarding him.