Monday, May 17, 2010

Priests kept working despite investigations

Priests kept working despite investigations
May 17, 2010

Sydney Morning Herald
Patrick Maye and Finian Egan.

The Catholic Church is accused of bungling sex abuse inquiries, with at least two priests continuing to work despite church investigations into the cases.

A Sydney priest, Finian Egan, was found to have groped two girls over many years in the 1980s, yet he was praised at a public Mass in Carlingford last year for 50 years of service.

A Melbourne priest, Patrick Maye, twice celebrated the annual Mass for Victoria's Irish community, despite being banned from acting as a priest after church investigators found that he had committed serious sexual abuse in 1973 by forcing himself on a 31-year-old woman when she was in a ''vulnerable'' state.

The church also found he groped two sisters in their family home in the 1980s. Father Maye denied the allegations. Victims of both priests went through the church's Towards Healing process, which is supposed to give closure and compensation to victims.

The church inquiry into Father Egan took more than two years, despite victims being told it would take no more than six months. The inquiry and Father Egan's appeal were delayed while he took overseas holidays.

During the appeal, he officiated at a wedding.

Kellie Roche, who was groped by Father Egan while a teenager, said: ''I wonder what the married couple would have felt if they knew.''

Another victim, who does not want her name used, was repeatedly groped by Father Egan when he gave her guitar lessons. She says the church discouraged her from going to police.

Father Egan worked at St Gerard in Carlingford in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His service was honoured last August - after the findings had been made - when he was lead celebrant at a Sunday Mass. A supper was also held in his honour and he was mentioned in the honour roll in the archdiocese's newsletter.

In a statement to the Herald, the Bishop of Broken Bay, David Walker, would only say ''it would not be appropriate to make any response that could jeopardise the balance of trust that is placed in the church's process of healing''.

In 2005 the church forced Father Maye to retire early with his ''canonical faculties'' removed, so he could not act in public as a priest - the most serious church penalty apart from defrocking.

Despite that, Father Maye has for the past two years acted as a priest at the St Patrick's Day Mass, defying the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, who has repeatedly written letters warning him against working as a priest and saying ''any publicity will reflect adversely upon yourself [and] upon the church''.

Archbishop Hart also acknowledged the pain his victims would experience on learning of the priest's actions, but has been unwilling to publicise Father Maye's name to ensure he can't act as a priest.

In February, Father Maye was the ''surprise guest'' at a party for the Sydney bishop David Cremin. The Sydney function was also attended by the Irish ambassador.

In 2004 and 2005, Father Maye continued his work at St Augustine's Primary School in Yarraville, while police and the church investigated abuse claims. The girl he groped in the 1980s said the church should not have allowed this. ''I was feeling sick about the thought of him possibly abusing kids there,'' she said.

The police inquiry did not proceed to court. Father Maye denied the allegations through his lawyers.

One victim said: ''Dealing with the church itself was a hell of a lot more traumatic than dealing with the abuse.''

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