Pope Benedict XVI has officially defrocked convicted paedophile priest John Denham.
Maitland Newcastle Diocese Bishop William Wright issued a statement yesterday saying that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had recently advised him that on May 20 this year Pope Benedict XVI decreed that John Denham was ‘‘dismissed from the clerical state’’.
‘‘Michael Malone, former Bishop of the Diocese of Newcastle-Maitland, recommended this action to the congregation,’’ he said. ‘‘I welcome the Holy Father’s decree.’’
John Denham was convicted of sexually abusing 39 boys aged five to 16 between 1968 and 1986 and was jailed for 13 years and 10 months.
A judge described him as a ‘‘sadistic’’ priest who targeted ‘‘especially vulnerable children’’.
Bishop Wright said his thoughts were with all those affected by the crimes, especially those who had been harmed, their families and loved ones.
‘‘John Denham has not been allowed to practise as a priest for many years,’’ he said.
‘‘Nevertheless, I pray that the announcement, which may raise the spectre of past pain, also brings some peace.’’
Bishop Wright said that as a diocese they acknowledged the distress and harm that Denham’s actions caused.