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Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related
(Article posted 17 January 2011)
Research by Broken Rites has shown that Bishop O’Collins also helped certain other priests, whom we will discuss later in this article. But, first, let us recapitulate the story of O’Collins and Pell.
The rise of George PellIn 1941 George Pell was born in the city of Ballarat in the state of Victoria. In that same year, James O’Collins became the new bishop of the Ballarat Catholic diocese, which covers the western half of the state of Victoria.
Although he never became an archbishop, O'Collins was certainly one of Australia’s most influential Catholic leaders.
O'Collins was a strong supporter of the conservative Catholic layman B.A. Santamaria, who operated a political organisation in Australia called "The Movement". O'Collins was a member of a committee of three bishops who were appointed by the national organisation of bishops to liaise with "Bob" Santamaria on behalf of the church hierarchy.
The remainder of this article will outline Broken Rites research about Bishop O’Collins and how he helped certain other priests.
The rise of Bishop CollinsJames O'Collins was born in Australia of Irish parents in 1892. After schooling in Melbourne, he worked at manual jobs before entering a seminary as an adult entrant to train for the priesthood.
In 1922, aged 30, he was ordained as a priest and worked in Melbourne parishes (including Yarraville and East Brunswick). In 1930 he was appointed as the Bishop of Geraldton in Western Australia. The town of Geraldton, 424 kilometres north of Perth, is on the coast but the diocese extends eastwards into remote parts of inland Australia.
The Geraldton diocese included the Christian Brothers Agricultural School at Tardun — a "home" for British child migrants — where the Catholic Church has been forced to admit that some boys were sexually abused by Christian Brothers. The Geraldton region also included a significant number of Aboriginal people. The Catholic Church operated some "missions", where Aboriginal children were in a vulnerable position.
There is scope for further research about what O'Collins knew about these problems while he was running the Geraldton diocese.
O'Collins in VictoriaIn 1941 O'Collins was appointed as the bishop of Ballarat, a more prestigious diocese in the state of Victoria. His consecration ceremony was conducted in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral by the powerful Irish-born archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix.
The Ballarat diocese covers the western half of Victoria, extending from the New South Wales border in the north to the Victorian coast in the south. As well as the city of Ballarat, it includes other significant centres such as Mildura and Swan Hill in the north and Warrnambool and Colac in the south.
Sex-abuse cover-upPrevious research by Broken Rites has shown how, while O’Collins was the bishop of Ballarat (1941-71), a number of priests and religious Brothers were committing sexual offences against children in this diocese. The most notable examples are:
The remainder of this article will focus on another, less well known offender, Father Leonard Monk who was harboured in the diocese throughout O’Collins’s reign. (Links to Broken Rites articles about Day and Ridsdale will be given at the end of this article).
Father Leonard MonkBroken Rites has searched the annual Australian Catholic Directories and has found that Fr Len Monk was ministering at Hamilton (St Mary's parish) in the early 1940s and at Maryborough (St Augustine's) in the mid-1940s.
Throughout his career, Monk was touching boys indecently; this is a criminal offence, called indecent assault. To protect the image of the Ballarat diocese, Bishop O'Collins arranged in 1946 to transfer Monk to the Geraldton diocese. O'Collins's former connection with Geraldton — and his seniority over Geraldton's Bishop Gummer — made it easy to arrange the transfer.
About 1948, when the complaints about Monk in the Ballarat diocese had faded, Bishop O'Collins brought Monk back to the Ballarat diocese, appointing him to minister at Camperdown (St Patrick's parish). Again, Monk sexually abused boys while at Camperdown. By the early 1950s, he was removed from this parish but was not removed from the priesthood — he was merely transferred to new parishes, where he was inflicted on new victims.
Monk's later parishes included Horsham (the parish of Saints Michael and John) in the 1950s, Linton (St Peter's parish) in 1961 and Apollo Bay (Our Lady of the Sea parish) in the early 1960s. He continued to offend.
Whenever Monk was removed from a parish, parishioners were not told that their children had been at risk. And Monk's next parish would not be told that Monk had been a child-abuser.
Victims of Father MonkAfter Broken Rites established its Australia-wide telephone hotline in late 1993, callers included victims of Monk.
"Brian", who was an altar boy for Monk at Camperdown in 1948-1952, told Broken Rites in 1993: "Monk used to come to my family's house for lunch, even after he left Camperdown. He kept touching me sexually for three years. I could not tell anybody because my parents would have given me a belting for defaming the clergy.
"I also know another of Monk's Camperdown victims. This boy's parents finally told Monk's superior, and Monk was transferred to another parish."
"Basil", a former Camperdown resident, told Broken Rites in 2006: "I was a victim of Monk when I was a boy in the 1950s. I needed to get a lift in Monk's car to attend sports events, and he used to touch me in the car. Monk was very popular — that is one reason why I could not report the abuse. I thought I would not be believed."
"John", a former resident of Apollo Bay, told Broken Rites in 1994: "In the early 1960s, Monk was at the Apollo Bay parish. I was sexually abused by him there for about a year when I was about seven. He used to do it in his car while he sat me on his lap, letting me steer the car. I could not tell my parents because my mum was a staunch churchgoer and she would not have wanted to hear my story.
"Monk was also abusing other boys. He used to drive around to farms, picking up boys to drive them to church."
"Monk's offences, together with the church's complicity, had a bad impact on me and has left me with personal problems. I still am having counselling."
Fr Monk's later postingsAfter Apollo Bay, Monk was listed back at the Linton parish again in the mid-1960s but, by 1967, the Ballarat diocese removed him and sent him "on leave" for the next four years. It is not clear where he spent this "leave".
In 1973, after Bishop Ronald Mulkearns had taken over the Ballarat diocese from Bishop O'Collins, Monk was again given a listing in the annual Australian Catholic Directory — as a chaplain at St Vincent's hospital, Melbourne. He continued this chaplaincy for several years until his name disappeared from the annual Directory.
Other offendersIn Father Monk's various parishes, he was not the only sexual abuser. A number of sexually-abusive priests flourished during Bishop O'Collins's reign — but they were not publicly exposed until their victims began contacting the newly-established Broken Rites group in 1993 onwards.
One of Monk's successors at Camperdown was Father Gerald Ridsdale, who has pleaded guilty to committing child-sex crimes in the Camperdown parish in 1961 and later at another of Monk's parishes, Apollo Bay. Broken Rites has received complaints about Father (later Monsignor) John Day abusing boys at Horsham in 1950-1 (before Monk was there) and at Apollo Bay in 1954-6. And various paedophiles such as Father Desmond Gannon of Melbourne used to visit the Apollo Bay parish house on holidays.
Another example of a sexually-abusive priest in western Victoria during Bishop O’Collins’s administration was Father Sydney Morey. One of Sid Morey's parishes was Horsham, which had at least four sexually-abusive priests — John Day about 1950, Len Monk about 1959, Sid Morey about 1967 and Gerald Ridsdale in 1986-8.
It was Bishop O'Collins who promoted Father John Day as a monsignor in the Mildura parish in the 1950s.
Therefore, Bishop James O'Collins must be acknowledged as helping Monsignor John Day, as well as helping Cardinal George Pell.
Further readingSee these Broken Rites articles about the culture of sexual-abuse that flourished in the Ballarat diocese (these two articles are merely examples):