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Suicide attempt? Priest accused of paedophilia is hospitalised

David McNamara and his alleged abuser, then Bro Roger MountRORY CALLINAN | The Age

THE Papua New Guinea-based Catholic priest ordered by the church to return to Australia after Fairfax Media revealed his alleged involvement in Australian child abuse cases appears to have stalled his departure by going into hospital.

The Catholic Church paid more than $100,000 to victims who alleged abuse by Father Roger Mount when he was a brother with the Catholic St John of God Order running children's homes in NSW and Victoria in the 1960s and 1970s.

He moved to PNG in the 1980s and became a Catholic priest - most recently in the Sogeri Parish about 45km north-east of Port Moresby - despite the allegations of child abuse being reported to the Catholic Church in Australia.

This week the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that despite the abuse allegations, Mount was still operating as the priest in the remote parish and had been ignoring instructions to leave for more than two years and was living in the country illegally.

The Port Moresby Diocese, which oversees Sogeri Parish, issued a statement saying Mount was to be sent back to Australia.

Port Moresby Diocese vicar-general Father Ben Fleming said Mount was to be collected on Thursday and taken to transit accommodation in Port Moresby where his return to Australia would be undertaken.

However Fr Fleming said an ambulance had been called to Sogeri Parish on Wednesday afternoon to collect Mount and take him to a hospital in Port Moresby.

The emergency registrar at the Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr Frederick Koha, said Mount was "quite sick" with abdominal discomfort, vomiting and was "a bit depressed". He was unlikely to be able to travel in the next five days.

However he said as soon as Mount was medically fit to travel, he would be leaving the country.

Fr Fleming also said he had spoken with PNG immigration authorities who were happy to allow Mount to leave despite him not having a visa.

Two victims have told how they were allegedly abused by Mount. NSW victim David McNamara said the then Brother Roger Mount, also known as Gabriel Mount, had sexually abused him when he was 12 years old at Kendall Grange, a home for intellectually disabled boys at Morisset,  about 65km north-east of Sydney, in the 1960s.

A second victim, Steve Danas, alleged then Brother Mount had abused him when he was living in a home run by the St John of God Order in Victoria. Both men received settlements from the St John of God order - a decision which was known by the order.

Despite the settlements, the Port Moresby dioceses which employed Mount for decades said it was never told by the St John of God Order about the allegations relating to Mount.

Mount rose to hold senior roles in the PNG Catholic Church, at one point reportedly working as the Port Moresby Archdiocese's chancellor.

For further updates see the ABC's Liam Cochrane's Twitter feed in first column


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Garry Roche

Reliable statistics reveal that about 4% of Catholic priests may be abusers. This is the same rate for most professions, including teachers and doctors.

It is however understandable that abuse by a priest gets more publicity and is perhaps more scandalous because the abuser is someone who should be committed to doing good and not evil. There is a breach of trust involved when the abuser is a parson or priest or a medical doctor.

Part of the real scandal in the Catholic Church was the attempt to cover up. Some authorities did not realize how addicted the abuser may have been to the habit of abuse. Some abusers may have proclaimed that they would “never do it again”. They would get transferred or appointed to a distant parish, and the abuse would continue.

Some Church authorities may have grossly underestimated the negative impact of abuse on the abused person. They underestimated the seriousness of the problem. They underestimated the length of time the negative effects could last.

Hopefully both Church and Civil authorities have arrived at a deeper understanding of the problem, and are now taking more effective steps to stop such abuse.

While the publicity given to such cases may be painful and make us (Catholics) somewhat ashamed, at the same time if this publicity makes us more aware of the problem and pushes Church authorities to take effective action in such cases, then such publicity may have good consequences.

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