Church backs priest banned from public ministry

Fr Paul Newton (Melbourne Catholic)

Melbourne’s Archbishop has vowed to support a priest stood down from public ministry in two inner-city parishes over alleged failure to comply with child safety laws. Source: Caulfield Glen Eira Leader.

Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli has revealed Ormond and Murrumbeena parish priest Fr Paul Newton will continue in his official role as parish priest, but has been ordered “not to undertake any public ministry at this time.”

In a letter to parishioners and parents, Archbishop Comensoli also confirmed the Church was not planning further civil action against Fr Newton.

Fr Newton took administrative leave on June 6, at the request of then-Archbishop Denis Hart, after several parishioners raised allegations with the Commission for Children and Young People.

The nature of the complaints has never been disclosed, but prompted a lengthy independent investigation about alleged professional misconduct by Fr Newton. The investigation was dogged by delays, including the Archbishop’s visit to Rome last month.

In a letter sent to parishioners and parents this week, Archbishop Comensoli said no further civil action would be taken against Fr Newton.

“No further civil action will be taken at this time,” the Archbishop wrote.

He defended the lengthy investigation time and lack of detail publicly revealed.

“I reiterate ... the importance of ensuring the process was fair and respectful, and that all voices, including Fr Paul’s, could be heard and considered.”

“To protect the good name of persons it has not been possible, or appropriate, to share specific details, even if this has had the undesirable effect of disturbing the wider community,” he wrote. “I recognise this has been a difficult and unsettling time for you as a parish community.”

A stand-in priest will conduct public ministry in the Ormond and Murrumbeena parishes, he said.

“[Fr Newton] will continue to live privately and be supported by the Archdiocese through this process.”

It is not suggested Fr Newton has been accused of being a danger to children.


Catholic church backs priest banned from public ministry in Ormond, Murrumbeena (Caulfield Glen Eira Leader)

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