Religious Life Without Integrity
The Sexual Abuse Crisis
in the Catholic Church
By Barry M Coldrey
Appendix 1: The Pre-War
View of the Priesthood
The edited extracts are from: Moran, H.M.
Viewless Winds: Being the Recollections and Digressions of an
Australian Surgeon, Peter Davies, London, 1939, pp. 321 ff.
'During the year 1900, I stood for several
days in succession on the corner of Market Street, Sydney, impatiently
waiting for the issue of a newspaper. In a divorce court near by a case
was being heard which seemed to threaten the foundations of my religion.
A priest, the eminence grise of our cardinal, (Monsignor J. O'Hagan) had
been cited as co-respondent in a divorce case. To us young people it sounded
like the knell of our church.
At the first whisper of the impending legal
process in many Catholic homes there had been an uneasy feeling that the
charge might be true, for the accused clergyman had the reputation for
being indiscreet in his conduct. A reaction, however, quickly set in,
aided no doubt by the firm reassurance of our spiritual leaders. This
was all the work of the devil; with guile the ancient enemies of the Church
were seeking to overthrow it. The celibacy of our clergy was something
no one could challenge. The priesthood was sacred; let no man assail it.
Were not priests the ordained of God ? We who were young and many who
were credulous forgot that the clergy - they, too - were but pedestrians
on a dusty highway along which men trudge, and rarely unbespattered.
The court soon became the cockpit of sectarian
strife: non-Catholics believing the priest guilty; Catholics determined
to exonerate him; few interested in the evidence. All sorts of chicanery
· The Catholic Postmaster-General
arranged for letters pertinent to the case to be opened in transit through
· a house was criminally burgled
in order to steal important documents;
· attempts were made on both sides
to subborn the jury.
In the event, the jury were divided but by
majority verdict found the co-respondent not guilty
'Today (p. 324) there are too many of our
Catholic clergy who do not defend the Faith, except with formalities,
but who are actually using the Faith to defend themselves. What curdled
my childish dream of simple goodness in the world was the contact with
ordained men of God who had much piety but little truth or honesty or
charity. The true apostle is rare. The ministers of God are often so preoccupied
with a private exultation over the prerogatives of their caste that they
cease to be humble before the awful responsibility of their mission.
'In England in 1935, an English Jesuit said
to me abruptly: 'What is wrong with the Church in Australia ?' When my
answer came pat: 'The priests,' he seemed surprised only at the readiness
of my reply. The evil in Australian Catholicism may be summed up (p. 326)
in this way: there is an alarming percentage of unedifying failures among
our clergy. A commercial spirit pervades many of the secular priests
and nearly all the nursing orders.
You will say: 'Who is this that throws the
first stone ?' It is often alleged that being a doctor I have seen only
the pathological side, I reply that usually the delinquent Catholic priest
does not consult a Catholic doctor when he is suffering from the effects
of his misbehaviour. The very pious will cry out about the sin of giving
scandal. This is an old smoke screen by which the clergy defend not
so much the church as the clergy. It could be justified if there were
not so complacent an acceptance of what has become a chronic condition.
'He had discarded the clerical garb. (p.
327) In a low voice he told me his history. His parents, like many other
fervent Catholics, had wanted to dedicate a son to the church. Foolishly,
they believed that if they trained the twig when it was young the branch
would grow bent to their purpose. The lad had weakly yielded to parental
pressure; only, he had never learned to climb. At first the brighter side
of clerical life had attracted him with its honourable status and privileges,
but early in his novitiate he realised that this was not his true vocation.
Pride and shame, but above all, a lack of moral strength, kept him chained
to his uncongenial task...Those seminary days, were, however, scored by
no unseemly behaviour.
No one will envy them (Novice Masters) their
ungrateful task of making a selection, but what I can never understand
is their toleration at time of students who are, quite obviously, abnormal
psychically. Our medical theories of sex psychology may be all wrong,
but clinical experience enables us to make in many instances a correct
prognosis. Too many young men are ordained and too quickly.
'During this period of interdiction (p. 328)
his sexual passions were effectively muffled, but once he was thrown on
his own resources, advancing in the open order of secular priesthood,
he lost contact... Moran describes the drift of the priest down among
low priestly companions until 'he lay in the gutter, become a drunken
derelict, touched bottom in every vice. He had surrendered to the dark
conspiracy of his own senses. The Church cast him off like refuse. His
parents disowned him. In their house the mention of his name was forbidden.
His own father had cursed him, shutting the door in his face.
Such a story illustrates the old bad practice
frequent in Ireland on parents imposing a vocation on their sons.
It opens the question of the moral conduct of a celibate clergy. The strict
observance of continence is easier in a monastery. In a mixed community,
surrounded by the adulation of foolish women, the secular priest is set
an almost impossible task. Carnal desire is the countersign of our humanity;
all over our bodies is the arrow mark of this condemnation to moratality.
Is it to be fairly expected of a young man that after a few years training
in a seminary he can suppress the natural passion in which his own parents
begot him ? The life of the celibate priest is continually overset by
the sexual problem. He resorts, too frequently, to practising the solitary
vice which is the end makes him anti-social and creates in him ultimately
a disgust for normal relations within the sacrament of marriage. It begets
sometimes even a resentment against marriage itself. It makes him exaggerate
absurdly the importance of a single commandment. Honestly and truthfulness
become minor matters; the sins of the flesh alone count...Few and blessed
are those who after a great effort clamber to a safe ledge above the fret
and foam of desire.
Nearly every priest who breaks away from
the Church in Australia does so because of a woman. In my youth there
came to Australia an Irish priest, of tall and commanding presence, who
suddenly changed his religion and took a wife. The man-nature in him had
won. In his new religion he became a highly respected minister and a prominent
figure in Masonic circles...but he desired to be buried a Catholic.He
had just slipped out of the celibate battalion to join a regiment of
married men whom he thought was going the same way. What influenced
him was the pitiless coercion of desire. He could not remain for every
sexually mute in the garrulous crowd around him.
(p. 335) On one occasion there came to my
surgery a priest whose drawn face warned me he had something heavy to
unburden. He had the fame of being an excellent pastor...After living
for years in a constant ferment of sexual emotion, he had ultimately,
in a moment of weakness, yielded to temptation and gone out, recklessly,
to look for the enjoyment of those gambols of the flesh which a thousand
of his ancestors had known. However, since he dreaded to give scandal
by his evil example, he had turned his footsteps to a drab purlieu and
to hired bodies...The penalty of this adventure was minor venereal disease.
The occasional failure (p. 337) of a priest
under the harsh coercion of his nature to keep so difficult a vow is but
an incident affecting chiefly himself. We Catholics, because we have
been taught to revere our spiritual leaders, expect too much of them.
They are but crystallisations out of the mother liquor of the people.
If, by divine favour, there is often concentrated in them the virtues
of the multitude, there is always enclosed too, the nucleus of a dust
that defiles: our common humanity.
Appendix 2: Sexual Abuse
and Boundary Violations
In the following cases, abuse allegations
- and sometimes court cases - followed from the actions of a priest or
Brother. However, in no case where a molestation allegation was made or
criminal proceedings followed was there a conviction. Some of the situations
or actions illustrate the grey area in this question where direct abuse,
boundary violations, misunderstanding and silliness intersect.
The point is that much can be learnt
from looking at actual cases rather than endless pious, generalised verbiage.
Case 1. (c. 1960) St. Augustine's Orphanage,
Geelong, Victoria. 'The new principal looked in at us boys lined up stark
naked in serried files waiting to be directed to the showers in groups
of ten. He looked surprised....within a month we were each purchased a
dressing gown to wear while going to and from the showers and while waiting
Case 2. (c. 1953) Melbourne Catholic College.
Brother X (the Principal) used occasionally sit next to boy(s) in the
playground at lunch or recess and place his hand on a lad's knee. This
led to an allegation - in 1953 - and an executive commented: 'Brother
was imprudent in putting his hand on boys knees when sitting next to them
in the playground.'
Case 3. Brother Y was Director of a Training
College, the Juvenate, where lads considering a vocation to the Congregation
could finish their secondary education. (The time was the 1960s; the allegations
were made in the 1990s.) When a teenager was having problems or needed
to talk or was considering leaving the programme, Brother commonly took
the lad for a drive around the outer suburbs after night prayers while
On the face of things, it all appeared kosher,
but years later when the allegations surfaced Brother found he had been
alone with lads in an enclosed space, commonly at night, for lengthy periods,
and since the boys problems had often been sexual they were talking of
sexual things. Someone(s) was determined to take things the wrong way...but
the case went nowhere - except giving Brother some very unpleasant moments.
Case 4. Brother K teaching in a rural
city became good friends with one of his thirteen year old Grade 8 pupils
and regularly visited the family home. Brother believed that he was very
popular with the family, although as things turned out he was welcome
as the boy's friend since family members tolerate and are polite to one
another's friends. In fact, the parents were indifferent and one, at least,
of the sisters did not like Brother at all.
Time passed and Brother was transferred
to teach in another school, but often returned to his former appointment,
staying at his friend's house despite their being a Congregation monastery
in the town. Since it was an ordinary house, Brother slept in a separate
bed in the boy's bedroom.
However, the years were passing and the
little thirteen year-old impressed by Brother's friendship, became the
scatty (late developer) seventeen year-old teenager who wished Brother
would go elsewhere. He came to believe that Brother's friendship was sexual
and alleged that Brother had molested him or propositioned him while they
were sleeping in the same room. Maybe Brother had; there were no witnesses;
and so it was simply one person's word against another's.
The allegations went to trial, but at
the hearing Brother presented well and was clear in his defence; the lad
presented poorly appearing as a foolish, rather screwed-up teenager with
little credibility. After being incredibly foolish Brother had been incredibly
fortunate. The jury returned a 'not guilty' verdict and there was little
In fact, Brother may have been more fortunate
than he realised. He was accompanied to the court by a much older colleague,
a member of the Province executive. As the jurors were sworn, the consultor
noticed that one had been a member of the Congregation many years previously.
The juror looked up and gave a discrete 'thumbs up' salute to the consultor.
This man may have had a lot to do with the comforting verdict.
Case 5. (Western Australian Orphanage, 1943)
In that year there were charges of sexual misconduct against Brother X...
'The grounds of the allegations were circumstantial and were based mainly
on the fact that Brother had, on several occasions, taken boys into his
room after 'lights-out' and kept them for some considerable time talking
by the light of a candle or small kerosene lamp. The group of boys in
question had decided amongst themselves that the meetings were of a sexual
nature, and had bored holes through the ceiling over Brother's bed to
hide up in the rafters to see for themselves...Brother's actions in taking
boys to his room after 'lights-out', though injudicious and foolhardy,
were certainly not to my mind of an invidious or sexual nature...' There
was an internal investigation which cleared Brother X but he was transferred
away from the institution in question.
Case 6. In August 1995, a New South Wales
high school teacher won reinstatement after being sacked after being accused
of making overtures to female students. The allegations included that
he sat on benches in a way that had sexual overtones (!), stood in doorways
so that female students had to brush past him and stood behind female
students to look down their tops. He was also accused of looking at female
staff and students in a suggestive way, asking inappropriate questions
about female students private lives and looking at female students with
his hand on his crotch.
Case 7. In January 1996, at Winchester Crown
Court (Hampshire, UK) Brother Cyril, a Christian Brother (FSC), former
headmaster from 1985 to 1994, of St John's College, Southsea, was cleared
of eight charges of indecent assaults on six boys formerly in his care.
Brother Cyril engaged in playful bouts of wrestling with his primary school
pupils during which he had pinched boys buttocks. Hardly appropriate behaviour
for the school's principal, but Brother was lucky. Although there may
have been something sexual in this playfulness, the jury decided that
it did not go far enough to be called sexual abuse and warrant a conviction.
Appendix 3: The Seriously
The following may prove disturbing even to
some in the rather limited specialist audience who will ever read this
exploration. It is edited from: Shelley-Griffin, E. 'The Clergy and Compulsive
Sexual Behaviours', The Priest, May 1989, pp. 40 - 45. What
the article discusses is the type of problem/fixation which modern psychological
testing might have detected if psychological testing had been in vogue
when the priest involved had been in the seminary or contemplating a vocation.
In the edited article, the third-person narrative
is that of the clinical psychiatrist (Griffin-Shelley) and the 'I' is
the priest telling his story.
'The story that follows is true and describes
the experience of a (parish) priest who is now recovering from his sexual
addiction. When I first read the story, I felt that the details were too
clear and the story too upsetting to remain as written. I was tempted
to edit out the intensity of the events for fear that they would seem
too extreme for priests to relate to or be compassionate about. On second
thought, I decided the story should be told as is.
"It's Friday morning. I'm up early so
I can take my time to shower carefully and prepare myself for my day off.
First, I have to offer Mass. Then I'll be free and off to the big city.
I've carefully packed a small black bag with the things I know I'll need.
I rush to catch the early bus. The ride isn't that long, but there is
enough time to be concerned and to agonise over what is going to happen
on my day off.
"I don't want it to happen. Every fibre
of my mind is rebelling against what every fibre of my body is aching
for. I tell myself that this time will be different. This time I won't
do it. Yet, I know this is the same line I've run a thousand times before
around my fevered brain ! I try to tell myself I'll use the day constructively.
I want to believe that I do not have to do this !
"Once the bus pulls into the terminal,
though, I feel myself drawn helplessly to the telephone as if by a magnet.
All the while I'm dialing, an inner voice is screaming: 'What are you
doing ? This is crazy ! You fool ! Stop now, before it's too late !' Then
I hear the voice on the other end of the line and I have absolutely no
control. The machinery has been put in motion, and I am caught up in the
wheels of what I have come to learn is the most powerful, and most dangerous,
and the most painful of all additions - sex addiction.
" In the cab on the way over, fantasy
takes complete possession of my mind...My heart pounds faster and faster,
and it is a struggle to breathe...By the time I get to my destination
and ring the apartment buzzer, my head is spinning.
"No-one could possibly imagine that
the soft-spoken, jean-clad apartment dweller will soon turn into a brutish,
black-leather-clad sadist, much less picture a parish priest stripped
and bound willingly in leather and chains to be tortured...The whip-wielder
is being paid to do precisely what I want him to do. This is how I exercise
my control over him.
"Once the scene begins and the leather
thongs fly through the air to wrap themselves around my helpless body
in an ever-increasing crescendo of pain, the sense of helplessness overrides
all else. The need to feel and, indeed, to be a victim is actualised.
Only now does the physical pain, intense and searing, match the internal
psychological pain and over-power it. Swelling together like a giant tidal
wave, the combined pain engulfs me completely and sweeps me away from
reality every more deeply into the bottomless pit of my sexual addiction.
"The body I have hated for so many years
is completely on display, secured in leather cuffs and chains to heighten
the sense of helplessness and humiliation. The pain of the beating, the
agony of the strategically placed clamps, and other tortures, will assure
feelings of total submission.
"As the sadist becomes more and more
secure in his domination, be becomes more and more bold in his expressions
of control...So, it goes on and on, for the predetermined amount of time
I can afford that week. The scene ends finally with hysterical screams
for sexual release. A mass of black and blue bruises and vivid scarlet
welts, I am totally dependent on him to provide the final fix as I am
still helplessly-secured, usually spread-eaged. The marks and bruises
bear silent witness to an incredible capacity to endure physical pain
under these circumstances. But once it is over, it is over.
"As swiftly as possible all things revert
to normal, as they had been when I entered the apartment. He gets his
money, and I am allowed to shower quickly before being shown to the door.
"I am a sex addict...Monday morning
I was called to the Chancery and confronted with a letter I had written
from a post-office box taken out under an assumed name...I was sent to
a controlled-environment for psychiatric treatment.
Appendix 4: Brotherhood
of St Gerard Majella
The Brothers of St. Gerard Majella, at
the point it was disbanded, 16 December 1994, was something of a paedophile
organisation managing a male harem. This is over-stating the case,
but at that time the writer was in Europe and was talking of these events
to a member of the General Council and he remarked: 'If the media revealed
this story we'd be calling them anti-Catholic liars !' At the point that
the Bishop of Parramatta dissolved the Society it had three priests and
some 15 to 20 Brothers. Whether John Sweeney founded the society with
the deliberate intention of perverting its young members is not known
- and is not pleasant to contemplate.
The Society was founded as a diocesan Religious
Congregation by John Sweeney in 1958 to minister to Catholic students
attending state schools, by taking religious education classes, as allowed
in those schools, and arranging retreats and other activities. Its members
were concentrated in the new working class areas of Sydney's western suburbs
where there were fewer Catholic schools and many Catholic students attending
The founder, John Sweeney, envisaged
a society of both priests and Brothers. Cardinal Gilroy (Sydney) gave
his blessing to the new congregation and recruitment was steady, although
there was a considerable turnover of personnel. When the vast archdiocese
of Sydney was sub-divided, the Brothers of St. Gerard Majella were placed
under the supervision and ultimate control of the new Bishop of Parramatta
Members of the Society presented a conservative
Catholic image and wore neck-to-ankle clerical cassocks. The Bishop of
Parramatta gave the Society the parish of Greystanes and the management
of the nearby Newman Catholic High School, where the Society provided
the principal and some of the staff. The school gave a base for recruitment.
Over time, the congregation grew and had
several houses where it conducted camps and retreats for secondary school
students and for young military personnel, such as naval apprentices.
Young men from sixteen years of age were admitted for training and on
profession took the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
At the time the Society was dissolved
it owned or managed the following houses:
Headquarters. Generalate of the Society
of St Gerard Majella, 198 Old Prospect Road, Greystanes, P.O. Box 299.
Wentworthville. 2145. Superior-General: Very Rev. Stephen Robinson,
Bowral, NSW 'Bailey House', Centennial
Road, P.O. Box 153. Bowral NSW 2576.
Bunbury, WA. Brothers of St. Gerard,
20 Prosser Street. Burbury. WA 6230.
Greystanes, NSW. Newman Scholasticate,
198 Old Prospect Road, P.O. Box 90. Wentworthville. NSW 2145.
Greystanes, NSW Parish staff, 198
Old Prospect Road, NSW. 2145.
Kemps Creek, NSW. Mount Vernon Novitiate,
105 Kerrs Road, P.O. Box 54. NSW 2171.
The property at Bowral had an interesting
history being formerly owned by Mr. L.O Bailey, a wealthy businessman,
philanthropist and natural health enthusiast. The property known as 'Hopewood
House', was opened in 1944 and was a house for illegitimate, abandoned
and neglected children, which operated before the professionalisation
of child care. Over the 1940s and 1950s, some 86 children were cared
for at 'Hopewood House', an anachronism within the child care world. Bailey
was treated as a good-natured, charming eccentric with views on (vegetarian)
diet and natural therapies which would resonate with many people at the
turn of the century. When Bailey died he left 'Hopewood' to co-worker,
Madge Cockburn and in 1967 she presented the property to the new Catholic
Religious Order of the Society of St. Gerard Majella. She was unaware,
of course, of the dark underside of the Society's training programme.
There appear to have been some complaints
from parents, students and parishioners about the activities of the three
senior figures in the Society before 1994 but nothing was done. However,
the secrecy surrounding the dark side of the Society began to crumble
in April 1993 when Father Pritchard pleaded guilty in Liverpool Court
(South-Western Sydney suburb) to indecent assault of a young naval apprentice
who was in his care. Pritchard was placed on a $2000 good behaviour bond.
The case did not attract media attention, but prompted other victims to
think about redress.
Bishop Bede Heather (Parramatta) ordered
an inquiry into abuse allegations and the overall management of the Order
on 4 May 1993. On 22 September 1993, the Bishop announced a reorganisation
of the Order. In a circular letter to members of the Society Bishop Heather
said that Brother John Sweeney, the founder of the Order had resigned
from holding office in the society but remained in parish work; while
Brothers Stephen Robinson and Joseph Pritchard were ordered 'not to live
for the present in a community of the Society or exercise priestly ministry.'
Greystanes parishioners were given no reason
for the disappearance from the local scene of church workers well-known
to them. Parents who suspected sexual misconduct, and others who made
specific complaints of abuse, found their letters received short shrift
or were ignored.
In December 1993, the Melbourne-based, sexual
abuse survivors support group, Broken Rites, publicised its national
telephone hotline and several former Brothers of the Society of St. Gerard
Majella called to tell of systematic sexual abuse while they were members.
There were three senior-priest-members of the Society and each and all
were sexual abusers, paedophiles.
Some former Brothers revealed confidential
memoranda written by the Bishop of Parramatta, Bede Heather, to two Sydney
priests, Rodger Austin and Peter Blayney to investigate the Society and
gather written statements from ex-Brothers about their experiences. After
the investigation, a second confidential memo in September 1993, revealed
that Bishop Heather was suspending Sweeney, Pritchard and Robinson from
The Greystanes parish newsletter merely revealed
that Father John Sweeney had 'elected to resign' as parish priest to have
'a necessary time of renewal.' It was Broken Rites which advised the former
Brothers to give their statements to the NSW Police Child Protection Unit,
which they did during 1994. This team then located further victims.
While this police investigation was proceeding,
another senior priest in the Parramatta diocese, the Vicar-General, (since
1991), Richard Cattell (54) pleaded guilty, 19 August 1994, to
five counts of indecently assaulting a fourteen-year-old boy. The lad
had approached Cattell, then a parish priest, in 1973 - 76 after being
molested by a teacher and Cattell had seized the opportunity to assault
Father Richard Cattell was the person to
whom anyone in the Parramatta diocese who had a complaint against a priest
would have approached. It was like reporting burglaries to a thief. Cattell
was jailed for two years, and Bishop Heather wrote to his former parishioners
supporting his brother priest, and ignoring the victims.
On 13 December 1994, detectives asked Bishop
Heather to produce documents - including the Austin/Blayney report - relating
to the abuse alleged against the three senior members of the Society of
St. Gerard Majella. Heather refused. The police therefore gained search
warrants and raided the Sydney Archdiocesan offices and Bishop Heather's
own office at Parramatta and seized many missing documents including a
number of written complaints that had not been forwarded to the authorities.
Three days later, 16 December 1994, Bishop
Heather quietly disbanded the Society of St. Gerard. Sydney media revealed
the scandal surrounding this Religious Congregation. The church promptly
disposed of the Society's property; it was alleged that innocent Brothers
who had spent their late teens and some of their twenties in the Congregation
had no job and no qualifications for a new one.
The press statement, dated 16 December
1994, and signed by Bishop Bede Heather, Brother Maurice Taylor, the Superior-General
of the Society of St. Gerard Majella and Father Gerry Iverson, the parish
priest of Greystances included the following:
· This evening a meeting was held
in the parish (hall) of Our Lady of Peace, Greystanes to inform parishioners
officially that the Brothers of St. Gerard have decided to dissolve
· The meeting also gave parishioners
a forum to discuss their reactions (a) to the withdrawal of the Brothers
from the parish earlier in the year; (b) to the announcemnt of the dissolution
of the Society; and (c) to any other matters of concern.
· The Society withdrew from its
commitment to the parish due to the findings of an enquiry initiated
by the Bishop following allegations by several members of sexual misconduct
and problems of governance within the Society. These findings had far-reaching
implications for the Society in general, which made it impossible for
it to continue.
· The Church recognises that many
people beyond the confines of the parish, may have been seriously affected
by these events and the ultimate dissolution of the Society. Many people
have suffered enormously over the past couple of years, including the
Brothers, former Brothers, their families and parishioners.
· It is important to stress that
only a very small minority of persons was involved in misconduct and
this should not distract from the overwhelming integrity and lasting
contributions made by the great majority of Brothers.
· Tonight the Bishop, Bede Heather,
paid tribute to the very effective work done by some many Brothers in
the fields of religious education, retreat work, as well as in parish
and school ministry. With it is disheartening to see the Society dissolve,
the Brothers have made an invaluable contribution to the life of the
Church which will always remain for others to build upon.
· Personally and also in the name
of the Church, we wish to apologise to all those who have suffered as
a result of any misconduct.
In July 1995, the Catholic church sold 'Hopewood',
the principal asset of the dissolved Society, for $ 1.25 million to an
Meanwhile, Fathers Sweeney, Pritchard
and Robinson were arrested in early 1995 and their several court appearances
spanned three years. A week before Father Sweeney's sentencing for sex
offences, Bishop Heather took early retirement. The three priests convictions
were reported widely in the media. e.g. Daily Telegraph,
19 July 1997; 13 November 1997; 3 March 1998; 4 March 1998; 28 March 1998;
The Australian, 23 December 1994, p. 13; Sydney Sun-Herald,
16 November 1997, p. 56.
Why did the victims, who were not exactly
small children, fail to complain ?
'I was too ashamed by what happened. I
felt very dirty after it and very confused. I'm saying that it was very
much psychological manipulation by those men in charge of the society.
When you join a society and are keen to be a member of a society...you
don't rock the boat.' - One Brother, 21 years a member of the Society.
(Temple, W. 'Trainees "preyed on by a priest"', Telegraph-Mirror
(Sydney), 19 December 1995, p. 3)
'I wasn't game (to report the priest predator).
He had complete control over whether I stayed, what I ate, where I slept...what
do you do ? (Temple, W. 'Trainees "preyed on by a priest"',
Telegraph-Mirror (Sydney), 19 December 1995, p.
Another victim told the court the circumstances
of the abuse:
'I joined the Order in 1979 when I was 16
years old, hoping to be a Brother. I was eighteen, and had been drinking
one day, upset over the death of my grandfather. He took me by the hand
and said: "Come on mate, it's time for bed". At this stage,
all I can really remember is him lying on top of me. I was still distraught
at this stage. I didn't know what to do. I didn't say anything.' (Temple,
W. 'Trainees "preyed on by a priest", Telegraph-Mirror
(Sydney), 19 December 1995, p. 3)
All three priests, the entire leadership
of the small congregation, were jailed - for sex offences against trainees
over many years. Sweeney (59) founder of the Congregation, was sentenced,
18 July 1997, to two years, three months jail...three counts of indecent
assault against a 19-year-old trainee Brother. Sweeney faces further charges
involving five other young males.
Father Joseph Pritchard was sentenced,
29 October 1997 to six years jail (four years minimum) after pleading
guilty to charges of buggery, intent to commit buggery; and indecent assault
involving seven trainee Brothers and another young male, all aged 16 to
21 years old, over a nineteen-year period.
At Father Pritchard's sentencing hearing,
Judge Taylor said:
Each of the offences involves a serious breach
of trust. The victims were young men striving to prove their suitability
for religious life. They were vulnerable to your manipulation and they
were powerless when faced with the prisoner's sexual advances.
Father Stephen Robinson, (51) the
order's novice master and spiritual director was sentenced, 27 March 1998,
to a minimum of eighteen months jail after two juries convicted him for
acts of indecency on two trainees.
These were not the only victims, just those
located by priests. In sentencing the judges said the three priests took
advantage of the trainees youth, naivety and their vow of obedience. The
trainees lived something of a 'child-like existence' in the order.
In the wake of these events, Father John
Usher, director of the Catholic church welfare organisation, Centrecare,
'If there was inaction in the past, it was
due to disbelief. Most of the bishops have got to where they are because
they are good people and dedicated people, and any thought that a fellow
priest and religious would commit a criminal action is abhorrent to them,
and when things are so abhorrent, you tend to think that they can't be
true. (Marris, S. and Powell, S. 'The Boy's Club', The Australian,
23 December 1994, p. 11)