Pedophile Best Still a Christian Brother

May 22, 2015

The Christian Brothers have still not made any move to expel convicted pedophile Robert Best from the Catholic order, four years after his latest conviction.

Best has not asked from his jail cell to be removed from the Brotherhood and no-one in the order has taken any initiative to kick him out, the child sex abuse royal commission has heard.

Christian Brothers Oceania Province leader Brother Peter Clinch, who has been in the role since July, said he has not raised the issue of Best's dispensation process with Rome.

"The matter has not come to my attention yet because he's still in prison and it hasn't come to my attention to take it further at this stage," he told the commission on Friday.

He said Best will be in his 80s when he gets out of jail.

"So what do we do with an elderly man in his 80s? So some would say, leave him where he is," Br Clinch said.

"Well I'm not sure how I would respond, is probably my best answer at this stage."

Best does not call himself Brother in jail, though Br Clinch said he would be very uncomfortable if he did so once he was released.

"I am of the conviction that anybody that committed the crimes that he has done, how could he ever live a life of a Christian Brother?"

He said he had been advised that the dispensation process was very long and complicated.

The only Christian Brother he knew of to be dispensed of his vows is pedophile Edward Dowlan, who has changed his name to Ted Bales.

He said Dowlan had thought about returning to the congregation but that was not permitted.

Best, Dowlan and Brother Stephen Farrell have all been convicted of abusing students at St Alipius Primary School in Ballarat East in the 1970s. The Christian Brothers admit another teacher, Brother Gerald Fitzgerald, who died in 1987, was also a pedophile.

Farrell had not taken his final vows and voluntarily left the Brothers.

The royal commission also heard the Christian Brothers spent $1.53 million on legal fees for Best, the principal at St Alipius.

Best was sentenced in 2011 to 14 years and nine months' jail for abusing 11 boys over a 20-year period at three schools, including St Alipius.

It included the rape of a nine-year-old disabled boy.

Br Clinch said the Christian Brothers' Professional Standards Office has been inundated with abuse claims, particularly from Perth.

"That's our struggle, finding that money and we just haven't got it in cash so we are trying to realise that now."

Br Clinch said young people are no longer interested in becoming a Christian Brother, as they don't see it as an option for them as a way of life.

The Christian Brothers have not had a novice stay with the order in Australia and New Zealand for more than 25 years, although the Oceania Province does have some novices in Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

Br Clinch said the average age of Christian Brothers in Australia is 75.

"Our way of life is coming to an end," he said.








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