Catholic suspected paedophiles allowed to continue teaching, despite complaints
May 17 2016
From the Link: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/catholic-suspected-paedophiles-allowed-to-continue-teaching-despite-complaints-20160517-goxam5.html
Catholic officials knowingly allowed two suspected paedophiles, including one of NSW’s worst, to continue teaching unpunished, eventually putting St Edmund’s College students at risk for a decade.
One cover-up involved a Marist Brothers principal in Sydney, who was aware that now-notorious child predator Brother Francis “Romuald” Cable was abusing boys, but failed to report him to police.
Cable instead went to Newcastle, where he molested another 11 children before leaving the order to teach at St Edmund’s between 1979 and 1989.
Fairfax Media has also established that the Christian Brothers, who then ran St Edmund’s, became aware of a complaint against one of their NSW brothers, but sent him to Canberra regardless, allowing him to allegedly abuse another boy.
The Christian Brothers concede their past handling of such cases was flawed and that “what happened 25 years ago is not what the community or we would accept today”.
The Marist Brothers say the Sydney principal never reported Cable’s abuse to his superiors, and that the order’s leadership did not become aware of any complaint until 1993, when his teaching career was over.
Francis ‘Romuald’ Cable
Cable hunted boys with an unnerving depravity and audacity before he moved to the ACT, molesting or raping at least 19 students at three Marist schools in the 1960s and 1970s.
Labelled one of NSW’s worst Catholic school paedophiles, he twisted religious doctrine and used his authority to manipulate victims, many of whom were troubled or from broken families.
He molested boys in his office, on excursions, behind his desk as fellow students sat nearby, and at the local swimming pool.
“You won’t say anything to anyone,” he told one boy. “You are not Catholic and have the mark of the devil on you.”
The same child was later beaten mid-rape to stop him screaming out in pain.
Afterwards, the boy asked Cable “what have you done to me?”, prompting the brother to hit him again, tell him to “remember our little secret”, and bless him in Latin.
Cable’s crimes were only recently reported publicly. He was sentenced last year to 16 years in jail for abusing 19 students over 15 years. Now 84 and frail, he is likely to die before he is eligible for release.
There is no evidence Cable abused children at St Edmund’s.
However, Fairfax Media can reveal that Cable could have been stopped 12 years before he even arrived in the ACT.
A principal at a Marist school in Sydney, St Gabriel’s in Pagewood, was told Cable was abusing boys as early as 1967.
One victim told police in 2013 that the principal came to his parents’ home, asked him whether he had been touched indecently, and then assured him and his father that Cable had been “spoken to” and would be moved.
The principal failed to report the allegations to the police, and Cable was sent to a school in Newcastle, where he abused a further 11 boys over the next eight years.
Strangely, a detailed, official history of the Marists’ Hunter Valley schools, published in 1998, omits any reference to Cable, despite his decade of service there.
But the Marists say the St Gabriel’s principal never took the matter to the order’s leadership when he learned Cable was abusing children in 1967.
“In saying that, in no way do we contradict the witness statement made in 2013 in relation to events in 1967, and we accept the witness may have told the principal at that time,” Marist Brothers Australia said in a statement.
“However no record, statement or summary of that allegation was ever forwarded by the principal to the Marist Brothers.”
The Marist Brothers said they first received a complaint about Cable in 1993, well after he had finished teaching but decades before police began investigating him. They had no cause for concern when Cable left the brotherhood and moved to Canberra.
The Marists also said the 1993 complaint could explain why Cable was not mentioned in the history of Hunter Valley schools published five years later.
“It is possible that his name was deliberately omitted to spare victims unnecessary discomfort.”
The Christian Brothers, who then ran the ACT college, say they immediately searched their records mid-last year after learning of his prior abuse in NSW, but found no complaints.
“We strongly urge The Canberra Times or any person who may hold any evidence of criminal conduct at the school to refer that to the police for the proper investigation,” the brothers said in a statement.
Cable was a lay teacher at the college, swapping his first name Francis for “Rom”, an abbreviation of the saintly moniker he took as a Marist brother.
Fairfax tracked down 10 of Cable’s St Edmund’s colleagues from the 1980s and told them of his history.
Many were shocked, saying they knew nothing of his past abuse nor of any complaint about him while he taught in Canberra. Several said the headmaster at the time would not have hired Cable had he known.
One clearly remembered Cable for his “ridiculous” contempt for the children. “He just had that real sense of hatred that kind of shocked me.”
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Roughly 20 of Cable’s ex-students from St Edmund’s were also found. Some described him as a cruel man, who picked on children and appeared to enjoy corporal punishment, while others said he was an unremarkable teacher who had not caused problems.
“My experience with him was horrible. He was not a nice person,” one said.
It is understood ACT police have not received complaints about Cable’s time at St Edmund’s.
But clergy-abuse survivors have expressed concerns about his decade here.
Bob O’Toole is a co-founder of the Clergy Abused Network. He was abused by another Marist teacher, Brother Leon Mackey, at the same Newcastle school where Cable preyed on children.
Mr O’Toole said Cable’s move away from the Marists would be unlikely to have changed his behaviour.
“I’d be extremely surprised. These people don’t just get to 1979 and suddenly stop.”
The NSW Christian Brother
A second brother was also sent to St Edmund’s in disturbing circumstances.
The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was teaching at Christian Brothers schools in NSW before he came to the ACT in 1978.
A child-abuse allegation had been made against him in NSW. Despite being aware of that complaint, the Christian Brothers allowed him to move to St Edmund’s to teach until 1983.
“We acknowledge that this appears to have occurred notwithstanding a previous complaint that resulted in the later settlement of a civil claim,” the order said in a statement.
He was then accused of abusing a boy at St Edmund’s, which also led to a civil claim and settlement.
The brother was then moved out of the ACT, and has since been accused of more child sexual abuse after his time at St Edmund’s.
Those allegations are currently before a court interstate, restricting what the Christian Brothers can say about the brother.
But the order did say its past handling of such cases had been flawed and offered its “unreserved apology” to any student who suffered abuse.
“Sadly, it has been the ongoing learning from our own work and that of the royal commission that poor practices in the past have failed to deliver acceptable outcomes,” it said.
ACT Policing’s child-abuse taskforce, Operation Attest, can be contacted via 131 444.
Vatican laments Irish dissent, silences priests
Apr. 26, 2012
DUBLIN, IRELAND — Just weeks after a report from a Vatican inquiry into the Irish church lamented what it described as “fairly widespread” dissent from church teaching, it was revealed that the Vatican has “silenced” Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery.
The Holy See’s move provoked fury among the members of the 800-strong Association of Catholic Priests, which has accused the Vatican of issuing a fatwa against liberal clerics.
It’s not exactly clear why Flannery, a popular author and retreat director, has come under Vatican suspicion. He has voiced support in the past for opening up debates around the ordination of women, a change to the church’s ban on artificial birth control and an end to mandatory celibacy. He also provoked dismay among senior Irish bishops when he publicly backed Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s 2011 attack on the Vatican in the wake of the report into the mishandling of clerical abuse in the Cloyne diocese. Kenny accused the Vatican of “dysfunction,” “disconnection,” “elitism” and “narcissism.” Flannery described the speech as “wonderful.”
By acting against Flannery now, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may well have scored an own goal by provoking the ire of the priests’ association. As well as his retreat work, Flannery is a founder of the association, which now represents some 20 percent of Ireland’s clergy. Since its founding less than two years ago, the group has campaigned for liberal reforms in the church and is due to hold a national assembly in early May to harness momentum. Key priorities for the group include “a re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching” and “a redesigning of ministry in the Church, in order to incorporate the gifts, wisdom and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.”
Flannery is the latest Irish priest to face Vatican censure. In mid-April, it was revealed that moral theologian Fr. Seán Fagan had been silenced by the Vatican two years ago. His Marist order even took the bizarre step of buying up unsold copies of his 2008 book What Happened to Sin?.
Capuchin Fr. Owen O’Sullivan also fell foul of the doctrinal congregation in late 2010 after he published an article suggesting that homosexuality is “simply a facet of the human condition.”
More of the same is likely to be in the cards given some of the findings of the apostolic visitation, published on March 19. The summary of the document — oddly, only four of Ireland’s 27 serving bishops have seen the full report — warned that “dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal.”
The tendency “among priests, religious, and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium” required, the visitation concluded, “particular attention directed principally towards improved theological formation.”
A war of words has now broken out — of sorts, since no one of the Vatican side of the argument is speaking at all. Renowned ecologist Fr. Seán McDonagh, a member of the priests’ association’s leadership team, accused the Holy See of “outrageous” behavior in silencing of the clerics.
He accused the Vatican of “throwing a fatwa” at the priests and said that some of Rome’s recent actions were like a return to the Inquisition.
“This isn’t the time for heresy-hunting,” he warned.
The association has rallied behind Flannery, insisting, “This intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise.”
The association has also resisted attempts to cast it simply as a liberal pressure group. “The issues surfaced by the ACP since its foundation less than two years ago and by Tony Flannery as part of the leadership team are not an attack on or a rejection of the fundamental teachings of the Church. Rather they are an important reflection by an association of over 800 Irish priests — who have given long service to the Catholic Church in Ireland — on issues surfacing in parishes all over the country,” the group said in a statement.
A recent survey commissioned by the association seems to demonstrate that the priests are not the Irish church’s only restive members. While weekly Mass attendance is still relatively high, three out of four people who identify themselves as Catholic say they find the church’s teaching on sexuality “irrelevant.”
The survey — conducted by the respected research association Amarach — also showed that almost 90 percent of those surveyed believe that divorced or separated Catholics in a stable second relationship ought to be able to receive Communion at Mass.
The figures were compiled from a sample of 1,000 Catholics and, according to researchers, have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
According to the results, 35 percent of those surveyed attend Mass at least once a week; 51 percent attend at least once a month. Just 5 percent of Irish people who identify themselves as Catholics never attend Mass.
Eighty-seven percent disagreed with church teaching on an unmarried priesthood and said they believed that the church ought to allow priests to get married, while 77 percent said the church should admit women to the priesthood.
When asked “to what extent do you agree with the Catholic church’s teaching that any sexual expression of love between a gay couple is immoral,” 61 percent said they disagreed while 18 percent of those surveyed believed homosexual acts to be immoral.
Seeming to set himself on a collision course with the Vatican, McDonagh said the survey “confirms that those who are advocating for change in the church are not a tiny minority, but are, in fact, at the heart of the church.”
He said Irish Catholics are “crying out for change and do not want the church to go backward, but to move forward and change.”
A spokesman for the Irish bishops’ conference, pointedly not commenting directly on the findings, said, “The results of this survey confirm the importance of all in the church taking up this task in a spirit of communion and sharing the good news of the Gospel in a rapidly changing social and cultural environment in Ireland today.”
The Vatican seems to be drawing a clear line in the sand. From Rome’s point of view, whatever the future shape of Irish Catholicism will be, it must be a future marked by greater adherence to church teaching. The Association of Catholic Priests strikes a decidedly different note. This Vatican approach, it warns, “may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant ‘disconnect’ between the Irish church and Rome.”
[Michael Kelly is deputy editor of The Irish Catholic, an independent, lay-owned weekly newspaper.]