Mark Coleridge being investigated over handling of Canberra abuse claim

Ian Bushnell 26 February 2019
St Christopher's Cathedral sunset. Photo: Charlotte Harper

St Christopher’s Cathedral. The complaint stems from Archbishop’s time in Canberra. File photo.

The former Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge, now Archbishop of Brisbane, is under investigation for the alleged way he handled information on child sexual abuse during his time in Canberra.

A woman has complained about a meeting in 20o6 in Canberra in which she had offered information about alleged child sexual abuse within his then diocese.

The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn has issued a statement confirming the allegations and that an investigation was under way.

It said it and the Archdiocese of Sydney had been made aware of the allegations a few months ago and it had been agreed that Canberra and Goulburn would establish an independent investigation of the allegations.

“Archbishop Mark Coleridge cooperated with the investigation and strongly refuted the allegations,” the statement said.

“When the complainant was invited to cooperate with the independent investigation, she chose not to engage with the process. She has instead chosen to take these allegations to the media, which is deeply disappointing.”

Archbishop Coleridge was ordained a priest in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1974 and was named Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane in 2012.

He was appointed as Archbishop of the Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese in 2006, moving to Brisbane in 2012.

Last week he attended the Catholic Church summit on child sexual abuse at the Vatican, giving a sermon at the end of the four-day event calling for the need for more transparency and accountability from the Church.

“We will not go unpunished. In abuse and its concealment, the powerful [of the Church] show themselves not men of heaven but men of Earth,” he said during the sermon.

“At times, however, we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy, but we have not loved them, we have not blessed them. In that sense, we have been our own worst enemy.”

Guardian Australia said the announcement of Archbishop Coleridge’s trip to the Vatican prompted the woman to write to him on 20 December 2018, urging him not to go.


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