After the fall of Cardinal George Pell in Australia, what’s next for PNG Church?

170726085308-02-pell-melbourne-court-arrival-exlarge-169It was bound to come to light sooner than later.   Over the last 20 years,  the  Catholic Church has been under intense pressure to admit to  cases of sexual abuse within its ranks.

Admitting is one thing. But investigating and brining criminal proceedings against  the offending priests and other members of the clergy is another matter altogether.  It is something the  Catholic Church has  shied away from for  many decades.

This week, people around the  world  read in horror as  the Vatican treasurer,  the third highest ranking  Catholic clergyman down from the  Pope,  George Pell,   was  found guilty of  sexually assaulting  two boys when he was archbishop.

There is no need to go  into the details  here because there is  enough of  it online.  But what we  should note  is that the abuses happened over several decades and that  large amounts of money were used to silence many of the victims and their families.   Why is this event in Australia significant and why should it concern Papua New Guineans?

There are 2.7 million  Papua New Guinean  Catholics.  Nearly a third of Papua New Guineans state “Catholic” as their  church denomination.    We have the biggest Catholic population in the Pacific.   The  Church has played an important part  in the  early development  of the country  from the construction of schools, health centers and economic activity.

Those at the  helm in Papua New Guinea as well as well as the people need to take stock of what has happened in Australia.  Serious questions need to be asked.

With the recent developments, many critics argue that the church has lost its moral compass and maybe, lost its relevance as well.  George Pell, may be just one person. But he represented millions in Australia.  As the institution argues against abortion, same sex marriages and  family planning the Pell  trial has exposed ongoing abuses  and the moral hypocrisy  that were covered up  until the trial and exposure of   Pell as a child abuser.

 What should also concern Papua New Guineans is that over the last 50  years,  Australian Catholic Dioceses and orders  transferred  priests  and religious brothers to rural parishes in  Papua New Guinea  to  prevent  Australian authorities  following through with child abuse  investigations   and making arrests.

One example… In 2014, Australian priest, Fr. Roger Mount,  stalled a deportation from Papua New Guinea. Previously known as Br. Roger Mount, he was  investigated for  child abuse whilst in Australia and was later sent to PNG where he  worked  at the Sogeri parish  for  20 years after his abuses came to light.

His victims in Australia were reportedly paid the equivalent of  K400,000 to shut up.

Roger Mount is one of several other members of the clergy sent to Papua New Guinea to ‘hide’ from Australian authorities.

Many of those decisions were made primarily   because our systems were and still are  too weak to track down offending  members of the clergy and there is little awareness of  the different forms of abuse in rural areas.

Cardinal John Ribat,  the most senior  priest in PNG  seems to have taken a strong stance against abuses.  But his words need to be enforced in a country where abusers of the worst kind tend to hide.

4 comments on “After the fall of Cardinal George Pell in Australia, what’s next for PNG Church?

  1. Thank you Scott for bringing this up. We know of the many hardworking priests and nuns in PNG but there is a high likelihood that some of the ratbag predators from Australia were sent off to PNG to avoid trouble in n Australia. Hopefully evidence will come in.



    2008: ‘A surprising number of already convicted paedophile priests have a background of service in PNG.

    In fact the extent of this might lead the cynical to suggest that PNG almost acted as a training-ground for priestly child molesters, and sometimes a convenient dumping ground for the Church to send accused priests. Out of sight, out of mind.

    This matter needs to be brought into the open as a public service to the people of PNG, and it needs to be investigated further as a protection for children and young people who may still well be at risk.

    If you have any direct experience of such activity, you should first go to the police – not the Church.

    Also, of course, people are entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by proper legal process.

    I provide here a summary of just a few of the priests with a PNG connection who have been convicted of child abuse.

    The list was compiled by the Australian victims support organisation Broken Rites.

    Edmund John Haines, committed child-sex crimes but he was caught when someone found child porn on the priest’s mobile phone, a court has been told. Known by his middle name (as John Haines), he grew up in Geelong, 75km south-west of Melbourne, Australia. John Haines entered the Catholic priesthood via a “backdoor” opportunity in Papua New Guinea, where priests were scarce.

    He later left PNG under mysterious circumstances and returned to Australia without clear career prospects. Then the Melbourne archdiocese, which was short of priests, accepted him for parish work in its Geelong parishes, thereby giving him access to children. The Melbourne church authorities did not look too closely into (or did not care about) Haines’ background. Haines pleaded guilty in the Geelong County Court in the state of Victoria to six counts of an indecent act with a child under 16, procurement of a minor for child pornography and possessing child porn.

    Father Denis McAlinden was protected for 40 years by the Church while he committed sexual crimes against young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. For years, the Maitland-Newcastle diocese had been transferring McAlinden backwards and forwards between New South Wales and Western Australia after he abused children in each of those states.

    The Maitland-Newcastle diocese also arranged for him to be “warehoused” in Papua New Guinea for several years, in the middle of his career. (He was based in Mendi diocese for 4 years.) The Church also arranged for him to spend a year doing parish work in New Zealand to protect him from exposure in Australia.

    Brother Rodger William Moloney was jailed in 2008 after the St John of God order to which he belonged spent over $1,000,000 on his defence. Moloney spent some time at SJOG’s operations in Papua New Guinea. He has been a member of the SJOG provincial council (administering the order’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific).

    Marist Brother Malcolm Hall was charged with multiple sex crimes against boys and girls in 1998. But before the case came to trial he collapsed and died. When the first allegation against Hall were made the Marist Brothers transferred Brother Malcolm out of Australia — beyond the reach of the Australian police.

    Thereafter (according to details given in his death notice in the Herald Sun) Brother Hall worked in church institutions in Peshawar (in Pakistan) and in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands — places where sexual abuse by church personnel is more difficult to expose. There is no way of knowing about his behaviour in those countries. Thus, the Marist Brothers protected their brand name in Australia.’ https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/11/was-png-a-training-ground-for-priestly-child-molesters.html?fbclid=IwAR3ncVCnuUFK8JpIqP26ZfQKx5x-y901ZKg8RL694Xc88jwgrIrTBE8AWjs


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