A Catholic priest who defended Cardinal George Pell at the child abuse royal commission last week was the subject of a historical sexual abuse claim.
ABC TV reported on Wednesday that an apology and $75,000 compensation was given to survivor John Roach in 2012 after the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne accepted Father John Walshe had sexually abused him in 1982.
The Age reports that “The Catholic Church in Melbourne has been hit with child sexual abuse claims just two days before Christmas as police target allegations that fall directly under the leadership of George Pell. The time-frame of the allegations covers the years when Cardinal Pell was archbishop of Melbourne and current archbishop Denis Hart was vicar-general.
Adults Surviving Child Abuse’s Dr Cathy Kezelman said it was ‘‘very concerning’’ that the allegations related to abuse that may have been going on ‘‘in the heartland of the archdiocese of Melbourne’’ when the church’s abuse handling system, the Melbourne Response, was launched in 1996. ‘‘Should these allegations be verified then it would be evidence of the absolute failure of the Melbourne Response to keep children safe,’’ she said. ‘‘This is obviously very much in the heartlands, in the place, at the time, in the centre of the then archbishop’s domain.”