Catholic Church bishop Ronald Mulkearns likely to avoid facing child sex abuse royal commission because of ill health

By Andrea Hamblin
August 22, 2015

THE man who was in charge of the Catholic Church in Ballarat while paedophiles preyed on young children is likely to escape being forced to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Former bishop Ronald Mulkearns has been admitted to Ballarat’s St John of God hospital, where he on Saturday was in intensive care.

His ill health casts doubt over whether the commission will force him to give evidence.

The 84-year-old has been accused of shuffling offending priests to different parishes, but has previously maintained a stony silence when questioned.

Father Mulkearns finally spoke publicly last month after being ordered to give evidence over the alleged offending of a former priest. But he gave little away and said he could not remember most events.

He is yet to be called to the royal commission.

The Sunday Herald Sun understands Father Mulkearns has been diagnosed with cancer.

He has been living near Aireys Inlet since his retirement.

He has previously escaped giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into sex abuse within the church, after stating that he had suffered memory loss following a stroke.

But at a recent Geelong court hearing into the offending of alleged paedophile priest Robert Claffey a magistrate ordered Mulkearns must testify.

Father Mulkearns answered “I don’t recall” to more than a dozen questions during his first appearance at the hearing.


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