Priest broke Confession seal to warn fellow paedophile

An Australian priest broke the seal of Confession to warn a fellow paedophile priest about an altar boy’s abuse complaint.

On Monday, during hearings in Melbourne, Australia’s Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard from the victim about the 1968 incident.

In the confessional, “BTU” told Fr Wilfred Baker that Fr Ronald Pickering was sexually abusing him.

Fr Baker spoke to the 13-year-old after Confession had finished.

Victim “BTU” said: “The conversation was not about the abuse that I disclosed to him; instead what Fr Baker wanted to know was where I lived . . . I thought this was odd.”

It got back to Fr Pickering.

“By mentioning it to Fr Pickering, Fr Baker clearly had no hesitation in breaking the seal of my confession to him and also Fr Pickering appeared to be agitated and was clearly concerned about this,” the victim said.

BTU said the abuse confused him as a child.

“There were mixed messages because, on the one hand, you were taught how holy priests were and they could do no wrong.

“But on the other hand, what Fr Pickering was doing to me was the opposite of the Church’s teachings.”

A victim of Fr Baker’s, BTO, was aged 12 when the two years of abuse started in 1976, the royal commission heard.

BTO told his mother and an assistant priest about the abuse in 1978.

He heard that someone met then-Melbourne Archbishop Frank Little, who seemed “almost equal to God”.

Fr Baker was moved out of the Gladstone Park parish.

Fr Baker was convicted in 1999 of abusing BTO and seven other boys between 1960 and 1979.

BTO received A$35,000 in compensation from the archdiocese’s Melbourne Response scheme.

But he still struggles with the effects of the abuse.

“I struggle to accept that I was preyed upon as a child and that it wasn’t my fault,” he said.


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