Category Archives: Diocese of Newcastle-Maitland

Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author

Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author

22 Jul 2016, 4 p.m

From the Link:

SADISTIC Catholic paedophile priest John Denham committed crimes against boys without fear of exposure because of an alleged sexual relationship between Catholic priests Tom Brennan and Patrick Helferty, writes a former St Pius X, Adamstown student in an explosive new book.

Denham “protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers”, writes James Miller in his book, The Priests, in which he alleges he was sexually abused by Brennan in 1978 when he was 15.

Mr Miller has called for Catholic schools funding to be stopped until the celibacy rule for priests is removed, saying the celibacy vow poses a blackmail risk because of the church’s structures relating to schools.

Studies suggesting up to 50 per cent of Catholic priests break their vows because of sexual relationships with men or women, or sexual abuse of children, mean “every second priest is living a life of deceit, with the other probably aware”, Mr Miller said.

“This systemic dishonesty makes the church unfit to care for children. With so many clergy compromised where is the moral authority to act when confronted with evidence of abuse within a Catholic school?

“How can a compromised bishop be trusted to report offenders to authorities if the offender can destroy the bishop’s career by publishing details of a secret and longstanding affair with a mistress?”

In his book, released on Monday, Mr Miller writes that he was sexually abused by Brennan while a year 10 student at St Pius X and after transferring from Belmont High School.

He alleges Brennan told him: “There is nothing wrong with what we are doing. But some people just won’t understand. It’d be bad for you.”

“It was as if I was his young boyfriend,” Mr Miller writes.

In the book Mr Miller writes that the abuse had a profoundly negative impact on his life. Although he went on to become a Newcastle University law academic, commercial barrister and author, Mr Miller writes about drinking, self harm, suicide attempts, destruction of relationships and homelessness he links directly to abuse.

“I became more or less constantly angry on the inside. Something was definitely broken,” he writes.

In The Priests Miller writes that nearly 40 years after the abuse he discovered Brennan and Helferty were “lifetime lovers”.

This week he stood by the controversial allegation, saying he relied on evidence contained in his civil action against the church which he declined to make public because it has not yet been put to Maitland-Newcastle diocese.

Rumours of the men’s sexual relationship were raised with the Newcastle Herald by others a number of years ago. Witnesses at Helferty’s funeral described Brennan as a sobbing and devastated man grieving for a dead partner, and not a calm Catholic priest celebrating a soul’s elevation to heaven.

While Brennan’s sister-in-law Patricia Brennan said on Wednesday that she had “never heard such rubbish in all my life” and she was “very proud of the fact” she was the late priest’s sister-in-law, former St Pius X teacher Bill Izzard said “I’d give that quite a bit of credence”.

“I wouldn’t say no to that one. I would form the view the bloke’s telling the truth,” Izzard said.

A Maitland-Newcastle diocese spokesperson declined to respond to questions about the allegation that Brennan and Helferty had a sexual relationship. The spokesperson said the diocese would not make public details about victims of child abuse but “respects their right to disclose aspects of their personal narrative as they choose”.

In The Priests Miller argues Brennan did nothing because Denham knew of his relationship with Helferty, when it was still dangerously illegal to be an active homosexual in Australia, and when the Catholic Church not only damned homosexuality as an abomination, but demanded the complete suppression of sexual impulses from its priests. The celibacy rule also leaves priests and bishops in clandestine relationships with women at risk of blackmail within the church, Miller said.

“Denham had the senior leadership of St Pius X right where he wanted them,” he writes.

“Denham protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers. I would go further and say that whether he ever actually put the specific threat counts for naught. It would have been enough that Brennan and Helferty believed Denham would do so.”

Denham was approached for comment but did not respond to written questions.

Solicitor representing many victims of church abuse, Dr Judy Courtin, said celibacy was a child protection risk.

“A spiteful nature combined with some serious dirt on a fellow clergyman, can make a powerful weapon with which to demand silence all round. Such silence can only enable the commission of child sex crimes,” Dr Courtin said.

University of Sydney child protection specialist and law Professor Patrick Parkinson said celibacy was a child protection risk because some men who abused children did so because their vows prevented them from having relationships with adults, so they became “situational” abusers.

“If you are a religious Brother, you’re lonely and your context is teaching in a boys’ school, that’s where you go find it,” Professor Parkinson said.

He said all the evidence was that celibacy was “a hard road to follow”. There were credible reports of 50 per cent of bishops and priests breaking their vows which potentially compromised them within the church.

He rejected the argument that Catholic schools funding should cease until the celibacy vow is removed, saying the school context had changed significantly in the past 40 years, particularly priests’ interaction with children.

“Funding issues should be made on legitimate criteria and the celibacy of priests is not legitimate criteria,” Professor Parkinson said.

Australian Catholic University Professor Neil Ormerod said breaching celibacy could compromise priests and could pose a child protection risk, but there were more significant reasons why the church should reconsider the celibacy vow based on the mental wellbeing of priests.

“There are many reasons why the church might reconsider the whole issue of celibacy, and the ones around abuse are not the only ones. Many priests never mature as psycho-sexual beings and that is a cause of many difficulties,” Professor Ormerod said.

He rejected the argument for stopping Catholic schools funding because of the child protection risk posed by celibacy, saying it might have been a valid argument 30 years ago but was not today.

In public and reported comments Pope Francis has said he favoured retaining the celibacy rule although “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change”.

The issue of married priests was in his “diary”, the Pope is reported saying.

What the church documents reveal

What the church documents reveal


The Catholic church should be outlawed forthwith

The Catholic church should be outlawed forthwith

JohnB on outlawing the Catholic church today

From the link:

After all my anger at the crimes and the harm done to society by the Catholic cover up is the need to understand how the healing journey can go and how it can help straighten a part of your life – it helps to regain a part of your truth and to show the depth of the damage and the harm caused by the actions of Catholics in their attempts to cover up the crimes of their fellow Catholics and their clergy.

Talking whilst driving with my son today and I began to relate to him some details about a foot injury I had as a child. He had come home and shown me a blister on his foot; I told him he had not spent enough time in bare feet – that was the prompt,  my topic could be my right foot or how long/harmful/life distorting the repression of the day to day Catholic cover up are – its part of the healing journey and a son who smiled today when he listened to me about this – its the story of how I had to cover up the injury even though I had to have ongoing medical attention and purpose made boots it was always done in the name of something else – my injured foot which had left me with a distinct limp because I walked with my foot turned in as it had been injured seriously when the car door was repeatedly slammed on my foot on the day the priest raped me at a little church in the beautiful hills of Central Victoria – its about how every Catholic knew what the cause was and every Catholic knew I was not permitted to speak about it – they were able to assist me with my pigeon toed-ness but they were not able to help me with my injured foot due to being slammed in the lock of the car door as that was a lie that would send me to hell – that’s why other kids parents were permitted to beat you if they heard you speak about it being what it in fact was. This was a conscious campaign by every catholic in that town, nuns and priests, knights of the Southern Cross, bishops, the local Catholic Policeman, the Editor of the local newspaper included – they all knew and participated – that to me is what the cover up was and the to me is what the cover up is today – that is what Catholic parishes across the world participate in still today – that is the Catholic cover up in action. It is bigger and stronger than just the Catholic hierarchy because so many have built their careers and their fortunes on.

The part skepticism plays in helping to clarify those truths and facts of your life – you realize that your own brothers and sisters were blackmailed in the same way over this and over dozens of other crimes that had occurred and were covered up – there was a regular murmurous uproar as another instances of sexual abuse was gossiped and whispered about and some kid bullied into fear of their life until the rules of secrecy were instilled (rather this repression was the enforcement of denial into the entire catholic population.

How deep is that repression?
How clarifying it is to me as a person. Reason and memory fit as another part of the jig-saw each of us who experienced this repression which was deployed on to all Catholic children. This was the cruelest and most psychologically damaging process that a human being could be put through- the entire religion and its entire congregation believed fervently that the were the leading light of Christianity – they led the world in morality, justice, humanity, compassion, leadership, ethics, community,salvation, redemption whilst they practiced the ways of the psychopath through a regime of terror inflicted through the fear of eternal hell, damnation, spiritual death and the very real and very often ostracism they deployed on those in the community the wished to bring into line.
Catholics were and remain efficient at that form of repression, they are persistent and ruthless as they are religiously sanctioned by the bishops, priest and nuns (each of whom backed up the story of the priest – this sealed the fate of any victim child of any form of torture who attempted to break out from it.
Those who survived that became good Catholics and continued with this genocidal war against their own children to ensure they would be as psychologically harmed as their parents – it became a self replicating child repressing monster that enshrined its rites to continue with these atrocious abuses of the rights  of a human child. The Catholic church is riven with this thinking and behavior, it is endemic in its persistence within the entire life of a Catholic it is endemic in all those religions which followed the same course and who between them have polluted our society to the point where the blatant sexual abuse of more than 30 million people alive today must be held in repression by the believers in the Catholic religion.

If society does not turn away from the path of the Catholic church and if it does not freeze its assets, its businesses then the vast majority of the real crime in our society will never be addressed and the world will never have had a real chance to raise our children in a peaceful, loving and truthful environment. Lets make 2011 the year we all come together to unite in the single cause of demanding our government ceases to trade with and Catholic or religious entity until democracy is restored in our country.

There is no precedent that permits a sector of society to enact genocide on its followers on the basis of religion. That is what we have today and what we have today is insidious and at the core of the ability of society to progress in the areas of human rights, dignity, respect, individuality, freedom of expression of thought and the freedom of speech.

While ever the Catholic church continues to exist and to be able to function as an organized religion it will be in the process of enacting the genocidal practices of the religion against some portion of society and it will continue to enable wars just as any organized religion can and repeatedly to the detriment of society does. The Catholic church is our most obvious example. We can either help the Catholic church to  prevail or we can help our children to prevail. For every person on the planet the real choice they have to make is whether they will support the Catholic church or will they support the children.

2011 must be the year when those of us across the world who have an understanding of this and for us to collectively demand our governments brings it to a halt and never permits it to occur again. That is a part of their moral obligation to society. Any politician who today stands in support of the Catholic church should be collectively condemned through our united and collective voices.

Make 2011 the year when you connect up with a proactive survivor who speaks clearly and directly about the needs and the means of providing the safety and the protection our children and our society need.

The Catholic church and those who follow it today need to stand back and permit reason and justice to prevail, to permit each and every person within the boundaries of their country to live with the legitimate right to live in a free and democratic country free of repression and child abuse.

The Catholic church stands condemned as a psychopathic pariah and must be rejected in all forms wherever it is not regulated and policed.

Join with us and support us in our demand to governments across the world that the repression and actions of genocide carried out by Catholics and the Catholic church must cease immediately.


The Church’s Errant Shepherds

Op-Ed Columnist


The Church’s Errant Shepherds


BOSTON, Philadelphia, Los Angeles. The archdioceses change but the overarching story line doesn’t, and last week Milwaukee had a turn in the spotlight, with the release of roughly 6,000 pages of records detailing decades of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests there, a sweeping, searing encyclopedia of crime and insufficient punishment.

But the words I keep marveling at aren’t from that wretched trove. They’re from an open letter that Jerome Listecki, the archbishop of Milwaukee, wrote to Catholics just before the documents came out.

“Prepare to be shocked,” he said.

What a quaint warning, and what a clueless one.

Quaint because at this grim point in 2013, a quarter-century since child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church first captured serious public attention, few if any Catholics are still surprised by a priest’s predations.

Clueless because Listecki was referring to the rapes and molestations themselves, not to what has ultimately eroded many Catholics’ faith and what continues to be even more galling than the evil that a man — any man, including one in a cassock or collar — can do. I mean the evil that an entire institution can do, though it supposedly dedicates itself to good.

I mean the way that a religious organization can behave almost precisely as a corporation does, with fudged words, twisted logic and a transcendent instinct for self-protection that frequently trump the principled handling of a specific grievance or a particular victim.

The Milwaukee documents underscore this, especially in the person of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, previously the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009 and thus one of the characters in the story that the documents tell. Last week’s headlines rightly focused on his part, because he typifies the slippery ways of too many Catholic leaders.

The documents show that in 2007, as the Milwaukee archdiocese grappled with sex-abuse lawsuits and seemingly pondered bankruptcy, Dolan sought and got permission from the Vatican to transfer $57 million into a trust for Catholic cemetery maintenance, where it might be better protected, as he wrote, “from any legal claim and liability.”

Several church officials have said that the money had been previously flagged for cemetery care, and that Dolan was merely formalizing that.

But even if that’s so, his letter contradicts his strenuous insistence before its emergence that he never sought to shield church funds. He did precisely that, no matter the nuances of the motivation.

He’s expert at drafting and dwelling in gray areas. Back in Milwaukee he selectively released the names of sexually abusive priests in the archdiocese, declining to identify those affiliated with, and answerable to, particular religious orders — Jesuits, say, or Franciscans. He said that he was bound by canon law to take that exact approach.

But bishops elsewhere took a different one, identifying priests from orders, and in a 2010 article on Dolan in The Times, Serge F. Kovaleski wrote that a half-dozen experts on canon law said that it did not specifically address the situation that Dolan claimed it did.

Dolan has quibbled disingenuously over whether the $20,000 given to each abusive priest in Milwaukee who agreed to be defrocked can be characterized as a payoff, and he has blasted the main national group representing victims of priests as having “no credibility whatsoever.” Some of the group’s members have surely engaged in crude, provocative tactics, but let’s have a reality check: the group exists because of widespread crimes and a persistent cover-up in the church, because child after child was raped and priest after priest evaded accountability. I’m not sure there’s any ceiling on the patience that Dolan and other church leaders should be expected to muster, especially because they hold themselves up as models and messengers of love, charity and integrity.

That’s the thing. That’s what church leaders and church defenders who routinely question the amount of attention lavished on the church’s child sexual abuse crisis still don’t fully get.

Yes, as they point out, there are molesters in all walks of life. Yes, we can’t say with certainty that the priesthood harbors a disproportionate number of them.

But over the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.

In San Diego, diocesan leaders who filed for bankruptcy were rebuked by a judge for misrepresenting the local church’s financial situation to parishioners being asked to help pay for sex-abuse settlements.

In St. Louis church leaders claimed not to be liable for an abusive priest because while he had gotten to know a victim on church property, the abuse itself happened elsewhere.

In Kansas City, Mo., Rebecca Randles, a lawyer who has represented abuse victims, says that the church floods the courtroom with attorneys who in turn drown her in paperwork. In one case, she recently told me, “the motion-to-dismiss pile is higher than my head — I’m 5-foot-4.”

Also in Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn still inhabits his post as the head of the diocese despite his conviction last September for failing to report a priest suspected of child sexual abuse to the police. This is how the church is in fact unlike a corporation. It coddles its own at the expense of its image.

As for Dolan, he is by many accounts and appearances one of the good guys, or at least one of the better ones. He has often demonstrated a necessary vigor in ridding the priesthood of abusers. He has given many victims a voice.

But look at the language in this 2005 letter he wrote to the Vatican, which was among the documents released last week. Arguing for the speedier dismissal of an abusive priest, he noted, in cool legalese, “The liability for the archdiocese is great as is the potential for scandal if it appears that no definitive action has been taken.”

His attention to appearances, his focus on liability: he could be steering an oil company through a spill, a pharmaceutical giant through a drug recall.

As for “the potential for scandal,” that’s as poignantly optimistic a line as Listecki’s assumption that the newly released Milwaukee documents would shock Catholics. By 2005 the scandal that Dolan mentions wasn’t looming but already full blown, and by last week the only shocker left was that some Catholic leaders don’t grasp its greatest component: their evasions and machinations.

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