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Public apology for Rockhampton priest's sex abuse

A long-serving Catholic priest, who has confessed to sexually abusing young children, says the church is aware of his sins but has never alerted police or parishioners.

Fr Michael Joseph McArdle, 66, has admitted molesting altar boys saying his victims, some as young as 10, "wanted it".

Fr McArdle made the admissions on two occasions to three journalists from The Courier-Mail.

Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan confirmed the abuse and said a public apology would be made on Saturday.

Fr McArdle has never been under police investigation. After receiving a sex abuse complaint, the church moved him to another parish where he re-offended.

"I don't want to put the wrong thing before you but they didn't resist. To some extent they wanted it," said Fr McArdle, who retired in 1988 but is still involved privately with worshippers.

Police yesterday said they would investigate the case, but added that McArdle could not be charged unless a victim made a complaint.

Current Bishop of Rockhampton Brian Heenan said when he took over in 1990 there was nothing on the record to indicate Fr McArdle had committed any offences. Heenan said when he arrived in the archdiocese, Fr McArdle had retired from parish work and was conducting private prayer groups from his home in Bundaberg. He said that in 2000, after hearing of strange activities in Fr McArdle's Bundaberg prayer groups, he told him to stop all sessions.

Diocese of Rockhampton
Crisis of faith (feature, The Age)
Schools for scandal (SMH feature, payment required)


17 Jun 2002