Ballarat bishop allegedly told victims: 'In 40 years you'll be dead and this will be forgotten'
Bishop Paul Bird also accused victims of being intent on destroying the Catholic church, the royal commission hears
Australian Associated Press
Thursday 21 May 2015 11.16 BST
A headmaster told an 11-year-old boy it was his fault he was being abused, and a priest told another he was a bad child and would go to hell, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse has heard.
In 2013, a Ballarat bishop is alleged to have told victims they were trying to destroy the Catholic church, but it would endure after they die.
Victim Andrew Collins told the abuse royal commission he was raped by his Seventh Day Adventist grade four teacher, who warned him that if he said anything the same thing would happen to his younger sister.
In 1980, when he was 11, a parish priest named only as Father X abused him during preparations for his confirmation.
“He told me that I was a bad child and I would go to hell and that my parents would be so disappointed in me,” Collins, 46, told the commission hearing in Ballarat on Thursday.
As an altar boy he was also raped by a Christian Brother. “Then he told me that the pain and suffering was a way to get closer to God and that what happened would get me closer to God,” Collins said.
He told the commission he was belted and grounded when he later told his parents another Christian Brother molested him at St Patrick’s College.
“My mother said: ‘how dare you make up lies about a Christian Brother. He’s a man of God. As if he would do anything like that’,” Collins told the commission.
Collins also alleged that current Ballarat Bishop, Paul Bird, told him in 2013 that if the church had to pay an amount they were discussing to every survivor it would go bankrupt.
“Bishop Bird told us that we were intent on destroying his church,” Collins said.
“He said: ‘Andrew, you need to understand something: the church has endured for thousands of years and in another 40 years or so you people will all be dead and this will be forgotten about and the church will endure for thousands of years more.”
Victim Stephen Woods told the commission his grade six teacher and headmaster at St Alipius primary school – the now-convicted paedophile Brother Robert Charles Best – told him the abuse was his fault.
“He told me that I was bad, that I was evil and that I deserved what he did to me,” Woods said. “He said ‘this is your fault.’ I heard these words from him over and over and over.”
Woods thought he would feel comfortable confiding in Father Gerald Francis Ridsdale, but the priest asked him for graphic details before raping him.
Woods said he spoke out about his abuse by Ridsdale and Best – who was acquitted of abusing Woods – and Edward Vernon Dowlan to expose the cover-up.
“I wanted to expose the horrific cover-up perpetrated by the senior members of the Catholic church who I believe knew about Ridsdale, Best and Dowlan for many years but chose to do nothing about it.”