These victims in this diocese have defeated the church's cover-up

Catholic Church sex-abuse victims in one part of Australia — the Newcastle region, north of Sydney — have been so successful in demanding justice that their local bishop is longing for early retirement. Bishop Michael Malone says that publicity about multiple abuse cases in his diocese has left him "disillusioned".

Bishop Michael John Malone was born in October, 1939. He was appointed head of Maitland-Newcastle Diocese (with headquarters in the city of Newcastle) in 1995 aged 56 and, since then, he has been kept busy, trying to cope with the public's alarm about high-profile church-abuse cases.

This does not mean that the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese is different from Australia's thirty other Catholic dioceses. It merely indicates that Maitland-Newcastle victims have been particularly active in reporting these crimes to the police, instead of remaining silent. The police investigations — and the court convictions — have been reported frequently in the local daily newspaper, the Newcastle Herald. Thus, the Maitland-Newcastle victims have shattered the church's traditional cover up of these crimes.

The traditional retirement age of a bishop in Australia is 75 but in early January 2011 (when he was still only 71) Bishop Malone said he was unable to face another three to four years in the top job.

The Newcastle Herald (on 4 January 2011) quoted Bishop Malone as saying: "I'm emotionally drained by what has happened [that is, the publicity about the sexual abuse cases] and feel disillusioned."

In 2009, Malone asked the Vatican to appoint a coadjutor bishop (or successor) to take over the Maitland-Newcastle diocese but (as at 4 January 2011) his request had not yet been granted.

"As soon as I hear from the Pope I'll move into the sunset," he said.

The Herald article (entitled "New road beckons for Bishop Malone") quoted Malone as saying that the knowledge his colleagues had committed abhorrent crimes against children still kept him awake at night.

''I toss and turn at night over the sex abuse committed by clergy and experience a lot of anxiety,'' Bishop Malone said.

The Herald said the fallout from the sex abuse scandal has been widespread and led to criticism of Bishop Malone from his own priests.

"The priests believe I have not been supportive of them," Bishop Malone said.

Police investigations

A reliable source, who knows all about the police investigations in Maitland-Newcastle, has told Broken Rites: "Bishop Malone is currently co-operating with the police investigations. He is trying to demonstrate that his diocese is no longer covering up — that is, he trying to salvage his public reputation.

"However, this openness is making Malone unpopular with certain other Australian bishops, who think that Malone is being too helpful to the police. Certain other bishops would be happy to see Malone vanish before his openness 'damages' the church's public image any further."

See more here

Here are some Broken Rites articles, giving examples of cases in which the church has damaged its own public image in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese:

  1. Fr John Denham
  2. Fr James Fletcher
  3. Fr Vincent Ryan
  4. The Fr Denis McAlinden cover-up

Article posted 6 January 2011