Evangelism Exposed

“Jesus wept.” Joh 11:35

Students suicided over abuse by a priest

Five former students of a Brisbane Catholic school committed suicide after being sexually abused by a priest, another alleged victim claims.

Paul Fauth, 59, now based in Melbourne, attended Nudgee College in Brisbane in the 1950s and 1960s, the Brisbane Times reports.

He said a classmate attempted suicide on July 30 in Brisbane after memories of abuse were rekindled prior to World Youth Day. His life support system was turned off on August 1 and he was cremated on Thursday.

Mr Fauth said that of his class of 29 students he knew of 10 who were sexually abused by the priest.

“When I was eight he first molested me by pulling my pants down and fondling me, saying that he had to check me out for disease,” he said. “A week later he raped me and said it’s what big people do and it should be our secret. I got myself expelled when I was 13 so I could get away from him.”

It is understood the priest, now 89, lives in a retirement home in a Brisbane suburb. Mr Fauth said the alleged victims were planning legal action against the priest, possibly a class action. Before World Youth Day last month, Bishop Anthony Fisher of the Sydney Archdiocese said some victims of sexual abuse were “dwelling crankily … on old wounds”.

Mr Fauth said Bishop Fisher’s comments “were just so gut wrenching and sickening. I was so upset I called my best friend from school and confided in him and he told me he’d been abused by the same priest.”

They called others in their class and learnt six had been molested and four others had committed suicide. Mr Fauth demanded a meeting with Bishop Fisher and saw him in Sydney on July 29.

“I told him very forcefully that he had no idea of the pain and suffering he’d caused by his totally offensive comments.”

A spokesman said Bishop Fisher had “expressed his sorrow that comments he had made … had been construed as criticism of victims, and apologised for any hurt Mr Fauth had suffered as a result.”

A Christian Brothers spokesman could not confirm whether Mr Fauth had attended the school or whether he had been abused.

Meanwhile, retired Sydney Bishop Geoffrey Robinson was in Brisbane last week to promote his book Confronting Power And Sex In The Catholic Church, which created a storm before World Youth Day last month.

Addressing an event organised by sexual abuse support group the Esther Centre at the Queensland State Library on Wednesday, Bishop Robinson encouraged victims to access the Towards Healing program, set up in 1996 after the jailing of several priests and brothers for sexual abuse.

The program was promoted as an alternative to court action and promised justice and compensation to victims.

Bishop Robinson said Towards Healing encouraged people to report offences to the police.

He said the church had persuaded a significant number of offenders to confess. 

‘We can get them treatment so they don’t reoffend, and provide closure for the victim,’ he said.

Bishop Robinson, a former chairman of the committee that runs Towards Healing, said he had been ‘out of this field for five years now’ but he did not believe ‘there is anything wrong with Towards Healing in itself within the context of the limited goals it seeks to achieve’.

And in another story, a New South Wales man Anthony Jones who was abused by a Catholic priest says that Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers have told him he could lose his house if he keeps pursuing legal action against the Church.

“I’ve had a letter from my lawyer where the Church says) I’d be forced into the situation (of having) to sell my home if I continued with the proceedings,” Mr Jones said.

In the letter sent to Mr Jones’s solicitor, Peter Karp, in June, John Dalzell of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgraph, representing Cardinal Pell, writes: “Unless he succeeds against our client on all components of his claim … he is likely to remain liable for a substantial sum of money.”

Later in the letter Mr Dalzell says: “In light of your client’s impecuniosity (which means a lack of money), and absent substantial recovery and set-off, he will be unable to meet the taxed proportion of those costs without selling his homestead.”

Mr Dalzell also writes: “On any view the continuation of these proceedings against the second defendant (Pell) cannot be in the interests of your client.”

In the letter, Mr Dalzell says Cardinal Pell was prepared to walk away from the case without pursuing costs against Mr Jones, if Mr Jones would drop the case.

“If the offer set out in this letter is not accepted, we will produce this letter to the Court in support of an application by our client for whatever costs order is properly then available (depending on the outcome of the case),” he writes.

Mr Jones said he had rejected Mr Dalzell’s offer.  


Abuse victims took their own lives: classmate (SMH, 10/8/08)

Bishop defends church (Brisbane Times, 10/8/08)

Christian Charity? (Northern Star, 9/8/08)

August 11, 2008 - Posted by | Australia, Sex Abuse

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