A SENIOR Catholic figure faced scrutiny for failure to respond to the pleas of parents trying to protect their children from paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale.
Several parents complained to Brisbane auxiliary bishop Brian Finnigan about Ridsdale’s “disturbing” behaviour in Mortlake in 1981, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told.
The inquiry heard on Friday that Bishop Finnigan, then secretary to Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, told parents there was no reason to be concerned about Ridsdale.
The commission was told he never reported any complaints to Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns. Bishop Finnigan said he had no proof at the time the allegations were true.
“That was the information that was said,” he told the inquiry.
“Whether it was true or not was another question.”
Documents revealed Bishop Finnigan took a complaint in confidence from a Mortlake mother, BAI.
She said she feared for her son’s safety and requested a meeting with Bishop Mulkearns.
The day after BAI contacted Bishop Finnigan, Ridsdale visited the family’s house unannounced.
The inquiry heard, Ridsdale demanded the son come into the room and tell his parents “there had been a misunderstanding.”
BAI later complained directly to Bishop Mulkearns.
BAI said he was “completely devoid of any emotion” and did not mention the initial complaint which she made to Fr Finnigan the previous year.
She said it was a “surreal” moment that left her devastated.
Further confidential Catholic Church Insurance Investigator documents revealed in 1993, Bishop Finnigan admitted up to four parents had complained to him about Ridsdale’s interactions with young boys.
Parents raised concerns Ridsdale was “over-friendly” to the boys and regularly invited them over to the presbytery.
Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan asked Bishop Finnigan why he did not raise the alarm when it was put to him children could be in danger.
“Well, I was puzzled really about why they were there,” he told the inquiry.
“Looking back.. it was very ignorant and stupid of me.”
It was also revealed Bishop Finnigan knew victim Paul Levey was living with Ridsdale in 1982 and failed to intervene.
A subsequent priest at Mortlake told Bishop Finnigan that "all kids in a couple of classes" had been molested but no action was taken.
Source : https://www.standard.net.au/story/3563159/royal-commission-a-parents-worst-nightmare/