November 9, 2020
By Erin Parke
A second priest has broken ranks with the Catholic Church, going public with concerns about what he has described as the “abysmal and extremely unjust” Vatican response to sexual misconduct allegations at an outback diocese.
It comes as an ABC investigation has uncovered a series of scandals involving priests in the trouble-plagued Diocese of Broome, including one who impregnated a schoolteacher, and a clergyman who returned to India before police could interview him over indecent assault allegations made by a teenage girl.
The incidents allegedly occurred under the management of 70-year-old Bishop Christopher Saunders, who is subject to an ongoing, two-year police investigation into sexual misconduct, allegations he has strenuously denied.
The Vatican is also running a separate internal investigation into his management of the diocese, which covers the vast Kimberley region of northern WA.
The review was triggered in March, when local priest John Purnell went public with concerns about the Church’s inaction over the sexual misconduct allegations made against Bishop Saunders in October 2018.
Now, another former Kimberley priest has spoken out, saying he is shocked and appalled at the Church’s failure to remove Bishop Saunders while the investigation is ongoing.
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