The former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, has told the Royal Commission he is not sure if he knew child abuse was a crime during his time in charge of the Ballarat diocese, but he knew it was wrong, reports the ABC.
Bishop Mulkearns made his much-anticipated appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse via videolink from the nursing home in which he now lives. Until now Bishop Mulkearns had been excused from giving evidence because he was too sick.
Asked if he referred paedophile Gerald Ridsdale for help because he knew he was abusing children, he said yes.
Bishop Mulkearns told the hearing he never asked priests directly if they were abusers but instead got reports from psychologists.
He conceded the only reason he sent priests for treatment was because he believed they had been offending.
"I didn't really know what to do or how to do it," he said.
He apologised yesterday for the way he handled complaints of abuse in his Diocese.
He told the Commission he retired in 1997 because he did not feel he was "handling himself very well."
"There were problems with the priests in the diocese and I didn't seem to be handling them as well as I should have," he said.
"And I'd like to say, if I may, that I'm terribly sorry that I didn't do things differently in that time."
TJH COUNCIL UPDATE
Bishop Ronald Mulkearns "sorry" for sex abuse in Ballarat (Fairfax Media)