Catholic orders deny protecting pedophiles

Sydney Morning Herald

April 29, 2013

Patrick Caruana and Daniel Fogarty

Two Catholic orders have denied colluding to protect pedophile members of the clergy, but say they accept some responsibility for the crimes committed.

One in four St John of God brothers and 14 priests of the Salesian order have been the subject of child abuse complaints in Victoria, a state parliamentary inquiry heard on Monday.

More than 100 abuse cases have been upheld in the Catholic Church’s Ballarat diocese alone since 1975. More than 60 per cent of them involved one offender, the defrocked priest Gerald Ridsdale – who has been convicted.

The bishop now in charge of Ballarat has admitted a predecessor made a “terrible mistake” in letting Ridsdale – one of Australia’s worst pedophiles – remain in the ministry after being alerted to a complaint as long ago as 1975.

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