Bishop of Broome accused of sex abuse

The bishop of Broome, Western Australia, Christopher Saunders, has voluntarily stepped down after the Vatican ordered a review into the Broome diocese.

The review was announced during an ongoing police investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct against Saunders.

The allegation was made 18 months ago and involve claims that Saunders sexually abused boys several decades ago.

No details have been publicly released about the abuse allegations, other than that the two alleged victims are male.

Dates, locations and the nature of the alleged abuse has not been publicly released.

Western Australia Police say they do not make comments about accusations against specific individuals.

Church authorities are not drawing a connection between the police investigation and the Vatican’s decision to review the Broome diocese.

“The Holy See, conscious of the particular situation in the Diocese … and concerned for the pastoral care of the clergy, religious and laity …, has appointed Most Reverend Peter W Ingham, Emeritus Bishop of Wollongong, Apostolic Visitator to the Diocese… ” Costelloe announced.

“Bishop Christopher Saunders … has voluntarily stood aside from the ordinary administration of the diocese for the duration of the visitation,” he said.

This will “allow the Apostolic Visitator the freedom to carry out his duties,” while the “day-to-day running of the Diocese will be the responsibility of Monsignor Paul Boyers.”

Saunders testified before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2017.

At that time, he said the church had failed to respond appropriately to the problems raised by the commission.

He also told commissioners data indicating one in 10 priests in the Perth Archdiocese were abusing children had left the organisation in a “state of shock”.

He suggested greater psychological testing for priests and seminarians as a key method to help stop and expose abusers.


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