Australia

Ronald Mulkearns: Ex-bishop accused of abuse cover-up dies

Retired bishop Ronald Mulkearns died, aged 85 Image copyright RCIRCSA
Image caption Retired bishop Ronald Mulkearns has died, aged 85

A former Catholic bishop accused of covering up the sexual abuse of children in Ballarat, Australia between the 1970s and 1990s has died.

Retired bishop Ronald Mulkearns died aged 85, the Catholic Church confirmed.

Last month he was asked once again to testify before a child sex abuse inquest following evidence from Cardinal George Pell.

Cardinal Pell said the bishop deceived him about the activities of notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Ridsdale committed more than 130 offences against young boys while working as a chaplain at Ballarat's St Alipius school between the 1960s and the 1980s.

"I can't nominate another bishop whose actions are so grave and inexplicable … His repeated refusal to act is, I think, absolutely extraordinary," Cardinal Pell said of Bishop Mulkearns in March.

In February, Bishop Mulkearns told the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he was sorry for moving paedophile priests.

"I certainly regret that I didn't deal differently with paedophilia. We had no idea, or I had no idea, of the effects of the incidents that took place," he said.

The Bishop of Ballarat Paul Bird described Bishop Mulkearns as man dedicated to his service over six decades, but acknowledged he had made some tragic mistakes.

"He expressed his sorrow for these mistakes," Bishop Bird said in a statement.

"His death means that the Royal Commission and survivors will not be able to hear any further evidence that he might have given and this will be a disappointment to them," he added.

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