Father Brian Lucas says at Newcastle sexual abuse commission that he never took notes in confidential meetings
A Catholic priest who encouraged paedophile clergy in NSW and the ACT to resign has admitted he never took notes during confidential meetings with them.
Father Brian Lucas on Wednesday appeared at Newcastle supreme court for a special commission of inquiry into how church leaders and police handled child sexual abuse allegations against two Hunter Valley priests, Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher.
Barrister assisting the inquiry, Julia Lonergan, asked Lucas if he thought it was unwise to take notes during the meetings in case he had to make them public in subsequent legal proceedings.
“I think that would be reasonable comment,” Lucas answered.
Lucas said after discussions with paedophile priests he reported what was said to their bishops and left it to them and their advisers to take whatever action they considered appropriate.
Lucas said he was a barrister before being ordained a priest in 1979. He wrote media columns and was a spokesman for the Sydney archdiocese before and while helping, in the 1990s, to write the Catholic church’s protocol for dealing with criminal behaviour involving church representatives.
For six years, to the end of 1996, he and another senior priest, John Usher, travelled through NSW and the ACT meeting priests accused of child sexual assault and other criminal behaviour, and trying to persuade them to leave the priesthood.
He estimated they had seen about 35 priests in that time, with more than 10 admitting crimes they were accused of.
Lucas said in 1993 he spoke to a woman who complained of being sexually assaulted as a child by McAlinden and then obtained admissions of the abuse from McAlinden.
Lucas said he reported this to the Maitland-Newcastle bishop Leo Clarke, and his second in charge, Monsignor Allan Hart, but was not involved in planning the action that should follow.
Lucas said he did not report the matter to police as the victim did not want police involvement.
He said he did not take notes when speaking to accused priests as he believed they would not tell him anything if he did.
“The practicalities were, they had to be seduced into resigning,” Lucas said.
He added that his primary concern was to stop paedophile priests offending and he didn’t care about the reputation of individual priests or scandal that their actions may cause the church.
The inquiry continues.