Monday, May 17, 2010

Australian cardinal urges new action on pedophiles

Australian cardinal urges new action on pedophiles

The Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia - A Roman Catholic cardinal urged tougher action against pedophile priests after the church confirmed Monday two Irish priests accused of molesting girls continued performing church-related duties in Australia's two largest cities despite being barred from doing so.

Father Padraic Maye was found guilty by the church of molesting two young sisters in the 1980s and raping a woman in the 1970s, and was forced to retire in 2005. He denied the allegations.

Father Finian Egan was accused of groping two girls decades ago and the outcome of a church investigation is pending. Egan has denied the accusations. But Egan's superior, Bishop David Walker who handles complaints against priests at Sydney's Broken Bay diocese, has apologized to Egan's accusers for his actions.

Neither priest has been charged by police. Both were banned by the church from performing any clerical duties.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, last week said priests who molested children were "permanently removed from the ministry" under protocols established by the Australian church since 1988.

However, the church confirmed Monday that Maye and Egan have performed church duties, including holding mass and performing a wedding. Bishops in Melbourne and Sydney said both priests had carried out clerical roles without permission.

Pell said Monday any priests guilty of abuse should not perform church-related duties.

"The key principle to help protect children is that priests who are known to have abused children should be permanently removed from public ministry," Pell said in a statement. "Further steps need to be considered against offender priests who do not follow the protocols."

Kellie-Anne Roche, who complained to the church in 2008 that she had been groped by Egan from the age of 15 in Sydney in the 1980s, said she was disgusted that the priest had since conducted a wedding and had been publicly honored for his 50 years' service as a priest.

"The church is still more concerned about shielding their priests' reputations and keeping the public in the dark about what they have done than they are about justice for victims," the 40-year-old mother of two told The Associated Press.

"The only thing I wanted to happen to this man was for him to not be a priest, but that didn't happen," she said, adding she was now considering asking police to charge him.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said he wrote to Maye three times telling him to refrain from all public ministry.

"The archbishop recognizes that when Father Maye contravenes his explicit directions, this can be distressing to Father Maye's victims," a church statement said. "He apologizes to them and will take appropriate action against Father Maye." The statement did not elaborate.

Neither priest could be immediately contacted for comment Monday.

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