Ballarat Bishop accepts criticism in sex abuse case
Following the sentence of former priest Gerard Ridsdale to four moreyears jail for sexual abuse of 10 boys from 1970 to 1987, BallaratBishop Peter Connors has accepted the judge's criticism of the Churchand has offered assistance to victims.
JudgeBill White has criticised the Church for allowing Ridsdale to continueto prey on boys as young as six-years-old by moving him from parish toparish after complaints were lodged against him, the Ballarat Courier reports.
"Icame to the diocese nine years ago, so therefore everything thathappened with Ridsdale happened before I was here," Bishop PeterConnors said.
"Certainly I've since met a number of victims ofRidsdale's and agree with the judge that the nature of the assaults wasterrible and the ongoing effects on the victims and their families hasbeen terrible."
Mr Ridsdale, who admitted to his 24th counts ofindecent assault on a male person under 16, four of buggery and sevenof gross indecency, was removed from the priesthood in 1992.
"Wehave learnt a lot about pedophiles in the last 20 to 25 years. Now ifthere was even one incident of complaint, I would say to that priestthat you cannot continue in the ministry," Bishop Connors said.
"People who decide that the church is corrupt or always protecting pedophiles can be assured that that is certainly not true."
BishopConnors said he had not received a complaint about a priest assaultinga minor during his nine years as the head of the Catholic Diocese ofBallarat.
He said Mr Ridsdale's crimes had a terrible effect on the morale of his brother priests.
BishopConnors said he had endeavoured to visit the communities across thewestern district where Mr Ridsdale had committed his crimes whileworking as a priest.
"I have offered practical assistance to those victims who wish to meet with me," he said.
"Idont want to be defensive about this. I think it is good that thesepeople have been able to have their day in court because I think thathelps their healing process."
Bishop's aid offer to victims (Ballarat Courier, 15/8/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bishop Peter Connors, Ballarat
Catholic diocese of Ballarat
New controversies in sex abuse cases (CathNews, 14/8/06)
Former priest pleads guilty to 35 more charges (CathNews, 8/8/06)
More charges for jailed priest (CathNews, 8/7/05)
Prosecutors block child sex charges against ex-priest (CathNews, 17/8/04)
Pedophile priest may face more charges (CathNews, 14/12/04)
For the term of his unnatural life (Herald-Sun, 15/8/06)
15 Aug 2006
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.Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia