Former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns to appear at royal commission in Melbourne

The Age

July 30, 2015

Jane Lee
Legal affairs, industrial relations and science correspondent

A former bishop described as “pivotal” to the failure to prevent decades of widespread child sexual abuse at Catholic schools in Ballarat will appear before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The commission confirmed in a statement on Thursday that former Bishop Ronald Mulkearns was expected to appear at the second hearing, which will be held in Melbourne starting on November 23. Cardinal George Pell will also give evidence at the hearing, which will focus on authorities’ role in child sexual abuse.

Ronald Mulkearns, the Bishop of Ballarat between 1971 and 1997, presided over many decisions to move disgraced serial paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale to numerous parishes despite knowing of allegations of child sexual abuse against him, the royal commission heard earlier this year.

Father Adrian McInerney, who was Bishop Mulkearns’ secretary for five years during this period, described him as the “pivotal person” responsible for addressing child abuse. “In retrospect, he needed to remove people completely from ministry,” he told the commission in May. Ten of Ridsdale’s victims are suing Bishop Mulkearns in the Supreme Court, arguing that he failed to act on abuse claims.

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