Category Archives: Father Narazeno Fasciale

Child abuse royal commission: Archbishop Denis Hart admits he was aware of complaints against abusive priest


Child abuse royal commission: Archbishop Denis Hart admits he was aware of complaints against abusive priest

By Danny Morgan
December 1,2015
From the Link: Child abuse royal commission: Archbishop Denis Hart admits he was aware of complaints against abusive priest

Archbishop Denis Hart

Archbishop Denis Hart

The Archbishop of Melbourne has admitted he should have done more to remove a violent priest who was alleged to have sexually abused children.

In 1996 Denis Hart received a complaint that Father Peter Searson, a parish priest, had hit a boy in the head.

Archbishop Hart told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that at the time, he would have checked Searson’s file and been aware of a long list of other complaints, including child sexual abuse.

However, he let Searson remain as parish priest in charge of a local primary school for another four months, only restricting his contact with altar boys.

Archbishop Hart told the hearing that in hindsight, more should have been done at the time.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan: You would have realised from the file it wasn’t just that group that was in danger, it was everyone?

Archbishop Denis Hart: I’d have to say that now, your honour, yes.

Justice McClellan: You didn’t realise that then?

Archbishop Hart: Well, I was relying very much on proper advice because there were a number of matters coming across the desk and I think I did what I thought at the time. On reflection, of course I’d have to say more should have been done.

The commission has previously heard that the Melbourne Archdiocese lied about the reasons behind the resignation of some paedophile priests in order to protect its reputation and avoid scandal.

In 1993, a group of senior bishops including Archbishop Frank Little allowed Father Narazeno Fasciale to resign for health reasons, despite knowing the real reason was an admission he had molested children.

In 1996 the Church put out a statement denying it had ever covered-up paedophilia.

Counsel assisting Gail Furness: That’s just a lie in relation to Fasciale, isn’t it?

Archbishop Hart: Well, I think that the facts of what was done and weren’t done put the lie to that sentence.

Ms Furness: And this is 1996. That’s appalling Archbishop, isn’t it?

Archbishop Hart: I think it’s indicative of the mentality.

The commission confirmed Rome-based Cardinal George Pell will give evidence to the hearing on December 16.

It is expected he will be questioned for up to three days on his response to child sexual abuse in his time as Archbishop of Melbourne and earlier in his career in Ballarat.

 

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