Bishop didn't get message because it was written in Latin
BISHOP Geoffrey Jarrett told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he didn't report an allegation against Lismore's Father Paul Rex Brown to the Vatican because he wasn't aware there had been a directive from the Pope to do so.
Bishop Jarrett was recall- ed to the Commission in relation to the case of Jennifer Ingham, who was sexually abused by Father Brown between 1978 and 1982.
A complaint against Father Brown was made in 2002, a year after the Pope ordered bishops around the world to report any allegations of child sexual abuse to the Vatican if there was a "semblance of truth" in the case.
However, Bishop Jarrett told the Royal Commission he had failed to do so because some directives "may not be remembered or acted upon".
When questioned further by the Chair of the Commission, Justice Peter McClellan, Bishop Jarrett said the Pope's original directive had been received in Latin and his Latin was "not perfect".
When Justice McClellan asked if he regularly received directives from the Vatican that he did not understand, Bishop Jarrett replied: "Usually they provide an English translation as well. Not all the bishops are fluent in Latin, not these days. Once we were."
Once it was established that Bishop Jarrett had also received the directive in English, there were numerous questions about why he had not followed it.
"In the context of the size of the problem, the publicity being given to it, and the Pope saying 'these must be reported to Rome'... You can understand my puzzlement about how such an apparently important matter wasn't front of mind," Justice McClellan said.
Father Brown died in 2005.
It was not until 2012 that Mrs Ingham contacted the Church's Professional Standards Office about the abuse, but she says she referred to matter to three separate priests as early as 1990.
The Commission did hear about one case that was referred to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith from the Lismore Diocese in 2006. The priest in question, who was not named and had since retired, had admitted to the crimes he was accused of. The penalty recommended by the Vatican was he "live a life of prayer and penance, and... (be) required to offer mass every Friday for the intentions of his victims."