The "sacred" music was not so "heavenly" for this victim

By a Broken Rites Australia researcher.  Article posted 22 March 2013.

This is a different kind of case-study in the Catholic culture of cover-up. In December 2012, the Sydney archdiocese signed a settlement with a victim (let's call him "Simon", not his real name) who was sexually abused by Father Leonard John Henry — one of Australia's most promiminent promoters of "sacred" music.

Broken Rites has researched the background of Father Leonard Henry. Born at Uralla (northern New South Wales) in 1919, the future Father Leonard Henry was educated at De La Salle College, Armidale NSW. He was ordained in 1944 as a priest for the Armidale diocese but he spent most of his career officially attached to the Sydney diocese.

Possessing academic qualifications in music, Fr Henry specialised in promoting "sacred" music and in developing parish choirs. He lived in parish houses (for example, at Sydney's Manly and Mosman), but does not seem to have been appointed to be in charge of any particular parish. Around 1960, he lived for two years in the Caringbah parish (Our Lady of Fatima), where he guided the parish choir.

He spent several years in Melbourne, where he assisted the Melbourne diocesan director of Music, Rev. Dr Percy Jones. While in Melbourne, he lived in several parish houses, including at Collingwood and Elwood.

He also spent some time in Tasmanian parishes, based in Launceston.

In some years, according to an official summary of his career, he spent periods "on leave". Eventually, according to the summary, he resumed being listed as a priest of the Armidale diocese.

Fr Len Henry died in 1968 at Mosman Catholic Presbytery in Sydney from cardiac arrest at age 49.

Simon's story

The victim in the settlement, "Simon", alleges that, between the ages of seven and eleven, he was indecently assaulted numerous times by Fr Henry at the home of Simon's parents in Sydney.

Simon told Broken Rites:

"My parents were 'good Catholics' and were active members our local parish, attending social nights, fetes and pageants. My siblings and I attended the local parish primary school. I was in the school choir; my dad sang in the church choir each Sunday. Father Len Henry was a very good choirmaster.

"Father Henry visited our house frequently. Sometimes, if the rest of the family were out, Father Henry would be my baby-sitter. My parents trusted him, because he was a Catholic priest.

"Sometimes Fr Henry would interfere with my genitals. At first, at that age, I didn't realise there was anything wrong with this. I was a naïve, innocent child who trusted the clergy completely.

"Sometimes he would talk about sin, especially mortal sins, which would send me to hell unless I was absolved in a confessional. He performed oral sex on me, and he then made me do the same thing to him. He would then make me help him to masturbate himself.

"I wasn't able to tell my parents about what Father Henry was doing to me because, as 'loyal' Catholics, they did not want to hear anything negative about the clergy. So I was overwhelmed and was intimidated into silence.

"Father Leonard Henry's child-abuse (plus the Catholic Church's code of silence) has had a bad effect on me. It disrupted my teenage development and my adult life. I still feel repercussions now at this advanced age.

"So, for me, this child-abuse was not just something that happened a long time ago. I still feel hurt, including by the church's long history of cover-up."