Media Crucifying Innocent Priests

By Shaun Inguanzo
Jily 23, 2008

A DANDENONG priest celebrating 50 years of service to the Catholic Church says the media has unfairly linked priests to child abuse.

Father Anthony Guelen, 80, this year celebrates his jubilee 50th year as a priest, which includes 23 years of service to Dandenong's St Mary's Catholic Church.

Fr Guelen said he was glad that Pope Benedict XVI this week apologised to victims of child sex abuse on behalf of the Catholic Church.

But he said media coverage had unfairly targeted all priests when the large majority were innocent.

"I think it is unfair that only priests are being highlighted in this," Fr Guelen said.

"Most child abuse happens in home life, and it's never highlighted that it happens in other professions.

"No one else gets the same publicity, and yet 98 per cent of Catholic priests you couldn't say anything bad about."

Fr Guelen said his jubilee year as a priest had come as St Mary's Catholic Church in Dandenong celebrated its 125th year.

Fr Guelen arrived in Australia in 1955 from Holland, where he began his theological studies.

He then joined a seminary in Melbourne and was in 1958 sent to Dandenong where he worked alongside Father Kevin O'Donnell, a priest who unbeknown to Fr Guelen would later be convicted and jailed for child sex abuse.

In 1965, he left to go to Carlton and in 1971 he was given the task of starting a parish in St Albans South, with just five acres of land.

He returned to Dandenong at St Mary's in 1985 and has preached there ever since.

The widelyrespected priest said he had witnessed Dandenong change from a country town to a sprawling city.

He even remembered when Greater Dandenong mayor John Kelly was an altar boy.

Fr Guelen gave thanks to the St Mary's Parish which he said had supported him over the last 23 years

"I want to say thank you for the good help you've given me," he said.

St Mary's Catholic Church will hold a special service for Fr Guelen this Sunday at 3pm.


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