ARCHBISHOP JOHN A.  BATHERSBY

The great dramas surrounding the Brisbane Archdiocese Witchcraft and Lesbianism Nun scandals, steadily abated as 2001 wore on


They had, of course, masked all other scandals. In April of that year, the Parish Priest of Tugun on the Gold Coast Father Kevin Smith had been promoting Third Rite Confession services. This was of course, very directly opposed to the discipline of the Church. Indeed the Holy See had gone to exceptional lengths to put an end to this serious abuse of the fundamental rationale of the Sacrament of Penance – which is based upon Confession and individual Absolution. So great was the concern of the Holy See, that a letter was directed to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference requiring them to bring these abuses to an end and setting out in detail the Church’s teaching on the Sacrament – making it clear that the Third Rite is intended only for use in situations where imminent death is a real possibility, and, in the event of survival, obliges the penitent to make a personal First Rite Confession at the first available opportunity


What was the response of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane: “I don’t think there was any bad faith or any attempt to challenge Rome in regard to that.”

What are we to understand: This was a matter of difference between “Rome”- as liberals refer to the Holy See – and Father Smith? The authority of the Archbishop was not engaged, despite his obligation to be the guardian of the Discipline of the Sacraments in his Archdiocese? His power was not engaged but rather, left in “Neutral”


Elsewhere in the Archdiocese, other free spirits were doing whatever they chose, and the Paper had made itself aware : in the Parish of Lutwyche for one, The Parish Priest-  the notorious Father Dick Pascoe – infamous for his flouting of discipline( having for example, said Mass on a footpath outside strike-bound premises to show his support for the electricity strikers , and having promoted his own version of a “politically-correct” Lectionary ) – had presided over some type of Penitential ceremony in which he and another Priest and four other men and women used Sacred Oils from the Chrism Mass of the previous week to anoint those presenting themselves. To what end? Who can guess? But Father Pascoe, a notoriously tough nut could be sure he would remain unrestrained


By April, 2002, the Brisbane Courier Mail was very much exercised by the issue of Pedophile Priests. Strangely, the subject is given a kick along when the Paper gives over to Archbishop Bathersby the major article space on page 11 of Saturday, 22nd April, 2002‘s issue. The article was given the title “SERVICE OR POWER?”

The crux of Archbishop Bathersby’s essay is this: “It seems to me that the problem of the church is not so much one of predatory sexuality but of power, which has a subtle tendency to convince religious leaders that they are free of the constraints that bind lesser mortals because of their elevated calling.”

                                                         Father Ronald McKiernan

This is a bizarre and deluded statement. Anyone reading the Courier Mail’s original reports on the multiple cases of abuse attributed to Father Ron McKiernan, as Archbishop Bathersby would have been bound in duty to do, could not fail to see that the offender was pathetic in his attempts to lure, to bribe, to seduce his victims. He was not in a position of power, but of sad, sick desperation to satisfy his unnatural desires. It does not matter that in a later report, the Courier Mail attributed to the Judge the claim that the offender was in a position of power over the victims. This was apparently a clumsy expression of the fact that Father McKiernan was under a duty of care for the welfare of the student victims. He had no authority in the circumstances, which is why he could neither compel their co-operation, nor even their presence, but had to wheedle and plot and bribe and induce even their presence. Power? “Not so much one of predatory sexuality”? Patent nonsense.

The article seeks to spring from that false premise to suggest, in Archbishop Bathersby’s view, a Church beset by power obsessed Clerics. In his view. There is the problem. His view is flawed and detached from the general reality. In fact, in a fairly long life, I have only encountered one type of cleric who is power obsessed and that is the “” spirit of the Council” radical liturgical abuser. But that is not what His Grace had in mind. To suggest that sexually aberrant behavior is a result of structural/ organisational “power”, is to be detached from reality.

His Grace constructs on this false premise a view of the Church as often being affected by “inappropriate models of leadership” and pleads for these to be abandoned for “the servant model of leadership espoused by Christ”. No-one can argue with the plea. But as presented, it suggests that the “servant model” is not presently employed and that this is the cause of any pedophile problems!

It is a rather muddled article, which might have had more substance if His Grace had addressed the problems of failure to “serve” on the part of those Ordinaries who do not do their duty and fail to correct clergy and laity who are in error. Or Metropolitans who neglect to correct their errant Suffragans until it
becomes necessary for the Holy See to remove the Suffragan.

                                      Suffragan Bishop William Morris since Deposed
His Grace’s hang up regarding “power” is so regularly observable that it must have its origins in some traumatically adverse personal experience. Sadly all of his flock has to endure the consequences.


Within a few days of His Grace’s article, news broke that Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee (close friend of the late Bishop Cuskelly and Archbishop Rush) had been revealed as having had a long term homosexual affair with a former aspiring seminarian – a man now 54 years old who had, after a separation, blackmailed Weakland who used Archdiocesan funds in the sum of USD 450,000 to secure his silence. Weakland had long been the darling of the “spirit of the Council” set, and, according to the convicted pedophile Father McKiernan, had told his friend Bishop Cuskelly (McKiernan’s superior) that whenever “Rome” summoned him to correct his liturgical and teaching abuses, he went there, “told them what they wanted to hear”, and came back to Milwaukee to do whatever he wanted. As was revealed that was all too true. He had long been a systematic liar and has subsequently written about his several unnatural affairs.
                                                         Rembert Weakland

The world was beginning to see what drives many dissenting clergy.


On the same day the Courier Mail ran a story it had obviously been researching for some time and had held waiting for the right moment. It revealed that three Pedophile clerics within Archbishop Bathersby’s Archdiocese, were working for Church organisations or without proper restraint.

Father McKiernan was shown to be using Web Design skills he had acquired while in Prison to work for about two years on a contract basis for the Archdiocese’ CENTRE FOR CHURCH LIFE AND MISSION, in which McKiernan had held high office under the late Bishop Cuskelly. In 1998 McKiernan had pleaded guilty to 15 charges of assault on males, indecent dealing with boys under 17 and indecent dealing with boys under 14. He was not then mentioned by name in the article because he was “facing further charges”.

Father Leo Daniel Wright had been convicted of 17 charges of indecent dealing with both boys and girls. He was found to be working as a “companion” to those being assisted by the Gold Coast’s Bethel Community Centre run by the Sisters of St.Joseph to assist sex-abuse victims and drug addicts.

A Father John Leslie Treacy a Victorian Priest was working in Princess Alexandra Hospital, and had celebrated Mass there. He provided “counseling” there for patients over 13 years of age. The Hospital claimed it had not been made aware that in 1993 he had pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a boy in 1988, had been fined but had no conviction recorded.

The trio gave the Paper the excuse for one page INSIDE MAIL article on Page 31 headed “BACK INTO TEMPTATION”. The article re-hashed and amplified the substance of the page 3 story.


                                                                Father Tom Elich

The Liturgical Supremo of the Archdiocese, Father Tom “Two Tables”  Elich was so incensed by the decision of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to reject ICEL’s proposal for the revision of the Sacramentary (that is THE ROMAN MISSAL) and the Order of Ordinations that he sprang to the attack. He used the Archdiocese’s “LITURGY NEWS” ,which he edits and which enjoys the Imprimatur of Archbishop Bathersby, for the purpose and was supported by the Archdiocese’ paper The Catholic Leader with a half page article uncritically repeating his views. His attack was based on the Congregation’s requirement that the documents be translated in accordance with its document “Liturgiam Authenticam” issued a year before and ignored by ICEL in these works. He even went so far as to attack the Prefect of the Congregation at the time, Cardinal Medina Estevez.

This was one of a number of arrogant outbursts by Father Elich. In 1992 he had attacked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s decision to ban the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible for liturgical and catechetical use on doctrinal grounds – The Catholic Leader had co-operated by very prominently.publishing an account of his “dismay” at the decision . 

Earlier, in 1991, when the document LITURGIAM AUTHENTICAM was issued, requiring accurate translations of liturgical texts from the Latin originals,  Father Elich's hostility knew few bounds. In his magazine and in The Catholic Leader he spoke of “betrayal” and attacked the Congregation. As an active co-operant in ICEL he had been party to the history of post –Conciliar manipulation of translations to suit politically correct agendas, to diminish the sense of the sacred, to diminish the sense of the transcendence of God and to suppress the Sacrificial character of the Holy Mass. Small wonder he opposed accurate translations. Within months the subversive role of ICEL would be brought to an end and it would be totally restructured and reformed.

Two weeks later the Leader published a letter from Bernice Sellars of Bowen, which criticized the Paper for its one-sided presentation of the Elich view. She referred to the Holy Father’s appointment of the VOX CLARA Committee to oversee the translations, the Committee’s wide spread of international Bishops under the Chairmanship of Cardinal Pell and noted  that the “process would seem to be in very good hands.” 
Bernice Sellars 2 Father Elich Nil.

2002 had been another year in which many opportunities were lost and the Archdiocese continued to stumble along.


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