Dr Michelle Mulvihill is a psychologist and former nun, who grew up in a “very fervent” religious background. She worked with the St John of God order for a number of years to help them with child sexual abuse. We heard on Monday that the order has a staggering 40 per cent of its members as alleged perpetrators.
Mulvihill said “I resigned from that organisation (St John of God) because I could no longer deal with the corruption and systemic abuse that was my experience of what was happening inside that organisation. I could do no more.”
A second panelist is Professor Neil Ormerod, a professor of theology with the Australian Catholic University.
Ormerod has just told the commission that his wife told him that a priest at the centre of their community had “sexualised their relationship”.
Although she was not a child, she was a vulnerable adult at the time and the relationship was “quite exploitative”.
Professor Francis Moloney is a senior professorial fellow at Catholic Theological College, and author of a book on, and I quote, “the use of the expression the Son of Man in the fourth gospel. It’s found 13 times. Why?”
His book, The Son of Man, took him three years to write, sold out in the first two editions and is now in its third edition.
I found a lot of difficulty, and I can understand why my predecessor, who was quite introspective, had had his breakdown and eventually died. He found the whole thing overwhelming.
“It’s been through three editions, all sold out. It has become a classic in the field,” Moloney said.
Moloney took over as provincial superior of the Salesians Australia in 2006 and “I found a great mess”.
Moloney: “I found a lot of difficulty, and I can understand why my predecessor, who was quite introspective, had had his breakdown and eventually died. He found the whole thing overwhelming.”
He said his predecessor found the “face-to-face encounters with the victims, which is always stressing, soul destroying, and he found that very hard to cope with”.
The “mess” he was referring to was child sexual abuse.
The second difficulty his predecessor couldn’t cope with was “you find people that you’ve lived with and known for 30 and 40 years have betrayed everything you stand for. He just couldn’t cope with it and he had a complete breakdown”.
Professor Moloney said it was quite a rapid process to dismiss a Brother within the Catholic Church. Although it involved the Vatican, a Brother could be dismissed within three or four weeks.
It was much more difficult to defrock an ordained priest.
Moloney: “The process is dismissal, which is the most vigorous way, which the Vatican has been very loath to allow. They will go through a long, long process in order to get to this eventual dismissal.”
He has told the royal commission that the Salesians have never had many Brothers and priests in Australia, which is why the figures put in the royal commission on Monday were a concern and a surprise.
“It talks about 22.5 per cent allegations against Brother. We’ve only had about 25 Brothers since 1950 so that’s a high figure,” Professor Moloney said....