Melbourne churches with dark pasts targeted by arsonist

Police in Melbourne are investigating suspected arsons at three churches with historic links to abusive priests.

Fire destroyed the 123-year-old St James Church in Brighton in late March.

And fires at St Mary’s Church in Dandenong caused A$250,000 worth of damage.

A separate blaze started near a door at St Mary’s in St Kilda East caused little damage.

Bishop Peter Elliott said the Catholic archdiocese would increase security at local churches.

Bishop Elliott suggested an arsonist with a “very disturbed mind” was responsible for the fires, but doubted the instigator was a victim of sexual abuse.

A spokesperson for a victims’ support group said it was possible an arsonist was simply targeting churches generally, rather than those linked to abuse.

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