Retired Maitland Newcastle diocese Catholic priest Dennis Corrigan will appear in court next month to answer charges of allegedly sexually abusing two boys in the Windale area in the 1980s.
Father Corrigan, 68, of Mayfield, was granted bail yesterday after Lake Macquarie police charged him with multiple offences in 1987 and 1988 involving boys aged 10-14.
In a statement released yesterday Maitland Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone informed all diocese priests that Father Corrigan had been charged with ‘‘a number of criminal offences relating to alleged acts of child sexual assault’’.
He made the statement ‘‘with profound sadness’’.
‘‘Dennis Corrigan is presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law,’’ Bishop Malone said.
‘‘This is the beginning of a legal process which will be of unknown duration.
‘‘We must find the strength within us to support those who will look to the church to explain the inexplicable.
‘‘We must again sustain that difficult balance between care for a brother priest who stands accused, and compassion for people who may have had their innocence torn from them.
‘‘I ask you to pray for Dennis, alleged victims and all the families and friends who will be adversely affected in the coming weeks, months and years.
‘‘I ask you to pray for us all; that we will not rush to judgement, accept the outcomes of the legal process and maintain the gifts of faith and hope.’’
In April last year in a totally separate matter Father Corrigan was convicted and fined $2400 after pleading guilty to high-range drink-driving and negligent driving after his car crashed into a parked car in a Mayfield hotel carpark in October 2008.
He was found to have a blood-alcohol reading of 0.210.
He was granted bail to appear in Newcastle Local Court on October 19.