Priest re-instated by the diocese

On 23 January 2010 the Newcastle Herald newspaper in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales (north of Sydney) reported that the Maitland-Newcastle diocese has re-instated Father Gerard Mackie as a parish priest. Below is the Newcastle Herald item in full:

  • BELMONT Catholic priest Gerard Mackie has been reinstated as a parish priest after being stood down in September 2008 for allegedly showing an explicit image to a Lower Hunter state school class of seven-year-olds.

    The "inappropriate image" was allegedly shown during a religious education lesson to which Father Mackie brought his own computer equipment.

    No charges were laid by police, who investigated the incident after a report by the Department of Education.

    The matter was dropped after Strike Force Georgiana [New South Wales Police] investigated whether others had access to the equipment and after discussions with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

    Questions put to the church in relation to what allegations, if any, were proven and what action, if any, was taken, went unanswered yesterday [22 January 2010].

    In a statement, Zimmerman House (the Diocesan Child Protection and Professional Conduct Unit) manager Sean Tynan said Father Mackie was entitled to privacy.

    "Where the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has the responsibility to undertake an investigation all persons involved in that allegation, the alleged victim, the person subject of allegation, witnesses, have a right to care and respect," he said.

    "The NSW Ombudsman oversees the diocese's reportable conduct investigations.

    "The diocese is pleased to welcome back Fr Mackie."

[The above Newcastle Herald article is by reporter Gabriel Wingate-Pearse.]