Ballarat bishop backs claims of former policeman

Bishop Peter Connors of the Victorian Diocese of Ballarat yesterday came out in support of Denis Ryan, the former policeman whose career is believed to have been adversely affected by his investigation of a alleged priest sex abuser.

The Herald-Sun reports today that Bishop Connors said Mr Ryan has his sympathy and that he should receive an apology.

He also believed Monsignor John Day had sexually assaulted young boys and girls under his care.

"I am convinced Monsignor Day was an offender," he said.

A detective based in Mildura, Mr Ryan had been alerted to Day's sexual attacks by the vice-principal of the local Catholic school in 1971.

Mr Ryan collected statements from 14 minors - boys and girls - complaining they'd been victims of Day.

Just as he was about to complete the file, police command in Melbourne ordered a halt to the investigation.

Mr Ryan quit in disgust and cited his concerns about the torpedoed probe in his letter of resignation.

He says he was a target of church and police officials closely aligned to Day and his superior, Bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

Bishop Mulkearns, now living in a retirement home, had rejected the allegations and had also urged parishioners to believe their priest.

Day was eventually moved on, and in 1978 he died while working as the parish priest of Timboon, 230km southwest of Melbourne.

In 1997, the Mildura parish priest Fr Patrick Mugavin publicly apologised for Day's sins after talking to his victims.

Last week, Mr Ryan was joined in his campaign by independent MP Russell Savage, who called on Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon to reveal all the files on Mr Ryan or he would go to Police Minister Tim Holding.

Bishop Connors, who replaced Mulkearns as bishop of Ballarat, said he had met a few of Day's victims.

"From what I've read I believe Denis Ryan deserves an apology," he said. "I feel for Denis Ryan. It was a difficult time... he is obviously a very hurt man."

Cleric backs ex-cop's sex claims (Herald-Sun 14/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Ballarat

Catholic Church urged to rethink suspensions (RTE 13/2/06)
New turmoil in Catholic Church abuse scandal (Reuters 8/2/06)

14 Feb 2006