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Court told priest 'used worker like prostitute'

A former Melbourne Catholic priest being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct was accused in court yesterday of treating a community worker like a prostitute.

A barrister for a former employee of the Sacred Heart Mission in St Kilda alleged the priest sought "sexual rewards" for helping to save her job.

Philip Dunn, QC, told Ringwood Court that the 45 year old woman had provided "sexual comfort" for Fr Barry Whelan but he had abused her trust.

Mr Dunn said Fr Whelan - who resigned as a priest in June - was being investigated by independent commissioner Peter O'Callaghan as part of a wider probe into sex-abuse claims against the church.

He said that Fr Whelan, 67, had been moved to the Sacred Heart parish after allegations he had had sexual liaisons with parishioners.

The Age reported in July that Father Whelan had been suspended in about 1996 after allegations that he sexually abused a girl, 13, in the 1960s.

He denied all the allegations.

The Age


The creation of a US-Vatican commission to revise the US bishops' sex abuse norms reflected a compromise between Vatican officials who wanted to reject the norms outright and others who favored an experimental implementation.

By creating an additional step, the Vatican gave everyone more time to study the details - and offered the bishops another chance to win the Vatican's blessing.

While the questions to be examined are not minor ones, Vatican officials confirmed the optimistic prediction of US church leaders that fine-tuning on the norms could be finished by mid-November.

"I'm certain an agreement will be reached, maybe even before November. It's a question of improving the language, not rewriting the policy," one senior Vatican official said on Monday.

The official said it was wrong to read the Vatican's uneasiness with some of the norms as censure.

Catholic News Service

Living hell on earth (The Age 5/7/02)
Newspaper publishes statistics on complaints against clergy (8/7/02)
Prominent NZ priest steps down after sex misconduct claims
Vatican rejects parts of US Bishops' abuse policy

24 Oct 2002