It is certain that many people will have mixed feelings about the life of Pope Benedict XVI. The expected passing of Benedict is a painful reminder that we’re still dealing with the aftereffects of his tenure in Germany as Archbishop. We also can’t forget the twenty years he spent as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under John Paul II before becoming Pope. Sadly, many clergy abuse victims are not out of the woods in terms of healing from their wounds and getting the justice they deserve.
Survivors of child sexual abuse in Germany were among the most hurt, having been deceived first by Benedict’s cover-up of sex crimes and then monumentally betrayed following his election to the papacy. There are no words to adequately express the anguish these survivors and their dear ones faced. We wish to honor the abuse survivors in Germany and everywhere for continuing to speak truth to power against such great odds and in the face of such powerful denial. Despite Benedict’s lack of candor, their truths cannot be denied.
In our view, Pope Benedict XVI, much like John Paul II, was more concerned about the church’s deteriorating image and financial flow to the hierarchy versus grasping the concept of genuine apologies followed by true amends to victims of abuse. The rot of clergy sexual abuse of children and adults, including their own nuns and seminarians, runs throughout the Catholic church, to every country, and we now have incontrovertible evidence, all the way to the top.
Any celebration that marks the life of abuse enablers like Pope Benedict must end. It is time for the Vatican to refocus on change: tell the truth about known abusive clergy, protect children and adults, and allow justice to those who have been hurt.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
In 1977, the then Sydney-based provincial of the Catholic brotherhood St John of God, Brother Brian O’Donnell, received an anonymous letter bearing disturbing news. The prior and one of the brothers at Marylands, the order’s school for students with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand, were sexually abusing a boy, the letter alleged.
Pausing at that moment now, as O’Donnell’s eyes flicker across the words on the page, there is an opportunity for dozens of children to avoid their fate, for boys who will later die by suicide to become grandfathers, and countless unhappy lives to take a different trajectory.
The junior brother mentioned in the letter was Bernard McGrath, who went on to become the most notorious perpetrator of child sexual abuse among religious orders in Australia and New Zealand and possibly the most prolific. When the letter arrived he had just been promoted by the prior, Rodger Moloney, whose role only emerged in detail in a report into abuse in care by a New Zealand royal commission last week. He was McGrath’s mentor.
But O’Donnell was disinclined to believe the allegations.
“I thought it was a trouble-causing letter,” he would tell Catholic Church Insurance Limited years later.
“I didn’t think it was based on fact and I thought it was members of staff at our school in Christchurch trying to get the brothers moved on.”
But O’Donnell did not do nothing. Moloney, an Australian, was his close friend and due shortly to be seconded to the Vatican to apply his original training as a pharmacist. O’Donnell allowed this appointment to go ahead. He applied with McGrath what became known as the “geographic cure” and transferred him to Kendall Grange, a boys’ home run by the order at Morisset Park on the NSW Central Coast.
Then O’Donnell boarded a plane to Christchurch. By this time he had received a second letter containing similar allegations and he brought with him a sample “in the hope that we could identify what I would call disguised handwriting”, he later told the insurers. Moloney – who had already departed for Rome – had previously arranged samples from each of the staff.
O’Donnell’s time in Christchurch appeared on the evidence before the royal commission to have been predominantly spent substantiating his “trouble-causing” theory. He did not conduct any interviews. One brother, who had been waiting until Moloney left to raise his suspicions about McGrath, brought his concerns to O’Donnell and was told to “leave it with me”. O’Donnell also spent some time examining the rolls to see if any boys’ parents lived in the suburbs identified on the letter, but none matched.
On his return to Sydney he wrote to Moloney in an avuncular mood.
“I am sure you would be pleased to hear from me that, after careful inquiries into the allegations made in regards to Marylands, I am convinced they were completely unfounded,” he wrote. “More than that, I am sure they are the work of a ruthless and vindictive member of the teaching staff. You need have no further concern about that matter … It was good to hear your voice on the phone the other night.”
He also destroyed the letters – “because of the harm they could do”, he later explained.
But New Zealand’s royal commission would hear that the sexual abuse at Marylands went well beyond the allegations made in the anonymous letters.
One in five former students claims to have been abused, with 74 complaints against McGrath and 32 against Moloney. More than half the brothers who ministered in the Christchurch community had specific allegations of child sexual abuse made against them. A caregiver told the royal commission it was common for staff to have to apply cream medication for anal fissures.
On several occasions students disclosed to Moloney that they had been abused by other brothers, only to find nothing was done and the abuse worsened.
One former student, who was repeatedly abused by McGrath, said McGrath and Moloney were close and he would often see them emerge from a bedroom together. One night he alleged he was plucked from his bed and they attempted to abuse him, but he would not stay still – so McGrath whacked him with the plastic baseball bat he always kept nearby.
Another survivor claimed McGrath and Moloney normalised sexual abuse, and it later became common between the boys as well.
“The brothers made us perform sexual acts on each other,” he alleged. “This included sexual fondling and oral sex. At the time I thought this must be what boarding school was like because it was so common and normal at Marylands. Looking back at it now, I realise this isn’t normal behaviour.”
McGrath would become a notorious paedophile on both sides of the Tasman. He is currently serving two prison sentences for more than 100 child sex offences relating to his time at Kendall Grange, where he rose to become the head of the school. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found 40 per cent of the brothers at Kendall Grange were child sex offenders.
But decades later McGrath would claim and receive $100,000 compensation from the order for the sexual abuse perpetrated by Moloney.
It was more than many of the child victims would receive.
Moloney spent six months in the Vatican before being transferred to Papua New Guinea, where he sat on the order’s Oceania provincial council, administering Australia, New Zealand and PNG. In the late 1990s he was transferred to Kendall Grange.
When the New Zealand government sought his extradition to face 30 charges of sexual abuse against 11 minors in 2003, the order’s lawyers spent three years and an estimated $1 million fighting for him to stay in Australia. After serving nine months of a 33-month sentence in New Zealand he returned to Australia and was welcomed back into the order. He died in their care in 2019.
The New Zealand royal commission found the order had missed a clear opportunity to respond to reports of abuse by Moloney and McGrath in 1977. McGrath was convicted of sexually abusing dozens of intellectually disabled children in his care over five trials in New Zealand and Australia between 1993 and 2019.
“Had the order taken appropriate action at that time, later prolific offending by these two brothers could have been prevented,” the commission reported.
It also queried the rationale for a $100,000 payment to McGrath in 2012 over the abuse he had been subjected to by Moloney and another brother in the 1970s. “The terms of the settlement were confidential and we were given no documents by the order that would explain the basis for a payment of this size, or why the payment was higher than many of [those] his victims received.”
A spokesman for the Brothers of St John of God said the order was considering the findings and was committed to participating in any redress scheme. “SJOG fully supported the inquiry and participated voluntarily when requested,” he said.
A Catholic order has lost its latest attempt to use the death of a known paedophile clergy member to shield itself from allegations of child sexual abuse after a judge found that allowing such a course would “bring the administration of justice into disrepute”.
In recent months, the Guardian has revealed how the Catholic church, in particular its Marist Brothers and Christian Brothers orders, is increasingly using the deaths of clergy members to argue for permanent stays of cases brought by abuse survivors in the civil courts.
In a more recent case, the Marist Brothers argued that the death of notorious paedophile Brother Francis “Romuald” Cable rendered it unable to fairly defend itself from a civil claim by a survivor known by the pseudonym of Mark Peters, because it can no longer call Cable as a witness.
The Marist Brothers made that argument despite the fact that Cable was alive for 22 months after Peters first notified it of his claim. After learning of Peters’s claim in October 2020, it did nothing to seek a response from Cable before he died in September 2022. Cable was 88 years old and behind bars when the Marist Brothers learned of the impending case.
On Friday, the NSW supreme court rejected the church’s attempts to use Cable’s death to justify a permanent stay.
“The defendant should not, in my view, have the benefit of its own inaction,” justice Nicholas Chen found.
“The defendant’s alleged inability to meaningfully deal with the claim is, I find, a product of its own unreasonable failure to attempt to make contact with Cable, and to take steps to secure his evidence.
“In my view, to accept otherwise would, adopting what was said by [former chief justice Thomas Bathurst], ‘itself bring the administration of justice into disrepute’.”
Court documents allege the Marist Brothers have known of abuse complaints against Cable since 1967, but concealed his crimes from police and other authorities for decades and instead shuffled him between its schools, where he continued to abuse children.
The Marist Brothers argued to the court that it didn’t seek a response from Cable to Peters’s allegations while he was alive because he had earlier rebuffed them in 2015 and said he did not want to have any more contact with the order’s leadership team.
But the court rejected that submission for five separate reasons. It found that 2015 was a particularly sensitive time for Cable, given he had just been convicted for child abuse and was awaiting sentence, meaning he may have been more likely to want to talk five years later, if the Marist Brothers had attempted to contact him again.
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The court also found that Cable may have been willing to talk to a lawyer or investigator, rather than a member of Marist’s leadership team.
Cable had also subsequently pleaded guilty to a raft of other child abuse charges in the period after the Marist Brothers approached him in 2015. He knew he would likely be in jail until he died, the court found. That “suggests that Cable, if contacted, may well have agreed to discuss what happened to the plaintiff”.
“At an absolute minimum, I consider that the defendant should have attempted – on an ongoing basis – contact with Cable following the letter notifying the defendant of the plaintiff’s intent to commence proceedings in 2020, and those steps should have been intensified once proceedings had been commenced,” Chen ruled.
“As it happens, nothing was done by the defendant to ascertain whether Cable would speak to them, their lawyers or investigators about the plaintiff’s claim.
“I do not accept that the defendant can simply stand back and do nothing, which is what has occurred here.”
It is unclear whether the Marist Brothers will attempt to appeal the ruling. But the win allows Peters to proceed with his case and either agree to a settlement or take it to trial.
The Marist Brothers have a lot to answer for when it comes to Darcy O’Sullivan, otherwise known as Brother Dominic.
In the 1970s and 1980s, O’Sullivan taught at the Marist Brothers College in Hamilton, Newcastle, and St Mary’s High School in Casino, on the northeast coast of New South Wales.
In 1996, O’Sullivan was almost appointed the principal of the Marist Brothers College.
This is all in spite of the numerous child sexual abuse rumours and claims circling O’Sullivan at the time. In this article, we expose O’Sullivan’s horrific crimes and share how he was brought to justice.
Other Marist Brothers knew O’Sullivan was abusing his students
Other Marist Brothers knew what O’Sullivan doing to his students. In fact, it was another Marist Brother who inadvertently turned O’Sullivan into the authorities in January 1997.
Brother Anthony Hunt — otherwise known as Brother Irenaeus — was Brother Superior of the Marist Brothers in Lismore in the mid-1980s. Like O’Sullivan, Brother Anthony was teaching primary and secondary students in the area.
Another victim said the school was like a “smorgasbord” for O’Sullivan.
“He would take you out of the classroom into a storeroom and he’d just go for it. He’d do it on the veranda where anyone could see. He’d push you up against the wall and when he was finished he’d take you back in and take another boy out,” the victim said.
In March 2016, O’Sullivan pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to a maximum of six years in prison for crimes against 12 students. However, two years later O’Sullivan did a complete backflip in the Sydney District Court. O’Sullivan showed a complete lack of empathy for his victims and denied ever touching them but instead claimed he had a “paternal interest” in them.
The Commission also heard from multiple Marist Brothers who claimed Malone knew about the allegations and moved O’Sullivan to other parishes to avoid trouble. In a Marist Brothers provincial council meeting, Malone claimed:
Something that becomes easier for some victims/survivors/oppressed/bad-eggs/outcasts to see is the hidden-truth, the dry wit, the ‘adult humour’, “things only grownups understand” that they innately become both aware of & exposed to during their youth. I wanted to post this immediately after recognising patterns in ‘She Said’. Many of the power+control methods exposed by this great work also reflect/mirror dynamics they continue throughout Institutions-Corporations-Society’s-Families & personalities.
While Harvey Weinstein’s ‘imprisonment’ has triggered off other moments, reminders give hope to other truth’s being exposed.
Many other ‘parallels’ appeared to me, which I gravitate to. It’s not about whether it’s popular to others, it’s whether it’s meaningful to me, another was Spotlight which brought up reminders I was exposed to on a church youth camp! How blessed were we?!
Posted Thu 4 Aug 2022 at 4:30pmThursday 4 Aug 2022 at 4:30pm, updated Yesterday at 5:58am
The Catholic Church is using a controversial legal tactic in a bid to be excused from a civil damages claim lodged in the Victorian Supreme Court involving Cardinal George Pell.
The man lodging the claim says he suffered nervous shock after learning of allegations his son was abused by Cardinal Pell
Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence and was acquitted by the High Court of criminal charges in 2020
The Archdiocese has asked to be excused from the civil case, claiming the father was not the primary victim of any alleged abuse
A man is suing the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Cardinal Pell for damages, claiming he suffered nervous shock after learning of allegations Cardinal Pell sexually assaulted his son when he was a choirboy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.
In 2018, Cardinal Pell was found guilty of the assault, but the High Court unanimously quashed the conviction in 2020.
The Cardinal has always maintained his innocence.
Church calls upon ‘Ellis defence’
In a preliminary hearing in the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday, the Archdiocese indicated it wanted to rely on what is known as the ‘Ellis defence’ to be excused from the case.
The Ellis defence emerged out of a 2007 NSW Court of Appeal judgement that prevented an abuse survivor suing the Church because it was not a legal entity.
If the Archdiocese is excused, Cardinal Pell would remain a defendant.
In a letter to the court, solicitors for the Archdiocese indicated that, even if the Church avoided liability, it would still pay any damages should the judge find against Cardinal Pell.
“If the plaintiff is awarded damages against the second defendant [George Pell], the Archdiocese will ensure that the award is paid by indemnifying the second defendant in respect of the award,” the letter said.
The father of the choirboy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, launched his case last month.
His son died of a drug overdose in 2014 and the father only learned of the allegations against Cardinal Pell the following year.
The father is claiming general damages, special damages and seeking compensation for past loss of earning capacity as well as past and future medical expenses.
His solicitor, Lisa Flynn, said the High Court’s decision to quash Cardinal Pell’s conviction would not affect the civil proceedings.
“The High Court made some decisions in relation to the criminal prosecution against [George] Pell. Our case is a civil case against George Pell and the Catholic Archdiocese,” she said.
Sexual abuse was rampant at St Joseph’s Orphanage in Clontarf, WA. The Christian Brothers would leer at the boys while they showered, and in the evenings, the Brothers would choose boys to take to their bedrooms. One of the survivors said this was “pretty much a nightly occurrence, or at least it occurred more often than not”…
Although some CSA Survivors were disappointed during parts of the CARC (2013-17), a major step is now being confronted: Arranged, networked + partial occasions throughout VIC have been mapped out, for moments of the Catholic Church. Although there are multiple other denominations of churches who use their own ‘unique sway‘, majority of congregations are Catholic. A great place to start exposing the (hidden) truth.
As there are many similar ‘maps’ existing, for other denominations-victims-schools-teams-clubs – this gives a confidence boost, with support that experts are anchored into the necessary legal-counselling-psychological work. Whether a cure is ever available, alternative solutions will be considered for this longterm (hidden) dilemma.
3 key points:
The first mapping effort linked 99 clergy to 16 paedophile networks in the Melbourne and Ballarat dioceses
Documents and the oral histories of at least 50 survivors are being used
Women in the church and nuns will be examined as part of the mapping process
ABC News + SBS News will remain our primary sources, with relevant references given.
Since 26th Oct 20, there has been a jump in visitors to our RCbbc Blog. Most of these were concerning ‘known CSA predators’, ‘elite’/‘private schools’ and ‘previous charges’/‘current trials’. The inclusion of another ‘Brand™’ of GPS Schools (Catholic) had also been a major trigger to these jumps. While following a similar pattern of how Journalistic-identified programs had unveiled CSA instances, upwards from southern states; RCbbc has ‘back-traced’ these same trails in reverse (BBC-GPS-NSW).
Although identification of these trails were discussed during our early days (2013-15), it is still breathtaking when truths are realised. Unfortunately, those who experienced any of Butch’s (AK Buchanan, BBC, St Paul’s & IGS) classes may remember some of AAGPS Schools being mentioned, in his previous exploits (SHORE, Scots College et al). Much more is awaiting to become evident, so stay tuned.
BBC’s inclusion in the Royal Commission’s eventual National Redress Scheme, is administered via the PMSA (Presbyterian Methodist Schools Association). Each of the other stated Private Schools should be administered by their similar authorities. Relevant details of each of these institutions is contained in the following References, which should provide relevant authorities detail upon request.