MARY* is a child sex survivor and heart transplant recipient failed by the Catholic Church - by the notorious paedophile priest who abused her as a very young child, the senior clergy who didn't report his abuse and the diocese that won't look for more of his victims in remote Aboriginal communities and overseas.
Last week she was angered by a confidential 2014 report that found a younger Archbishop Philip Wilson, and the late Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Leo Clarke, confronted Denis McAlinden in August, 1987 at Mary's local parish presbytery about a number of serious and credible sexual abuse allegations.
Mary (not her real name) was not quite three years old in August, 1987. She was sexually abused by McAlinden after that time when he returned to the parish for visits, after the "confrontation" in the presbytery lounge room ended with his sudden transfer from the area, and eventual move to Western Australia in 1988. Mary hadn't started school when some of the abuse occurred. McAlinden was 64 in 1987.
Mary isn't the only member of her family to report being sexually abused by McAlinden and receive compensation from the diocese. Other siblings and an older relative also reported abuse by him.
"It's abuse all over again to know they didn't report him to police then. It's just violating," she said.
"That's what makes Catholic child sex victims so angry. They knew. There was no protection. There was only secrecy. The only people protected were the priests.
"Philip Wilson has just fallen into that category. He acted to protect the church instead of contacting police."
Mary's mother said McAlinden's abuse and the church's protection of him had "destroyed my family". She was devastated that McAlinden was moved from her parish in 1987 because of serious child sex allegations against him, that were known by the two most senior clergy in the diocese, but there were no questions or warnings to families known to have had regular contact with him.
McAlinden moved to her parish from another part of the Hunter in July, 1986 and almost immediately started visiting Mary's family. Her father was a devout Catholic. Her mother at first thought the priest was a friendly man who bought lollies for the children, but increasingly she had concerns.
"He'd tell us stories about being in Western Australia and working with families that had little girls. He'd talk about being in Papua New Guinea and all the little girls. I didn't think anything of it at the time but there was something about him that wasn't right," Mary's mother said.
"I remember saying to my husband one day, 'Do you think there's something funny about this priest?' But he was very devout and he wouldn't hear anything about it."
McAlinden called Mary his "one and only curly girl" and his "favourite". It was only years later, after his letters to many little girls were revealed, that she realised he had many "favourites", most likely all sexually abused by him.
"He'd take us out to things. There's photos of me in the water with him when I was about four or five years old," she said.
The photos formed part of the evidence to back her compensation claim with Maitland-Newcastle diocese. An unknown number of little girls spoke of being sexually abused by McAlinden while he held them in the water.
Mary's serious heart problems began in 2011 when she was in her late 20s. The following year she played a key role in the Newcastle Herald's Shine the Light campaign for a royal commission. In 2013 she gave evidence about her abuse to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church and police responses to Hunter abuse allegations involving McAlinden and paedophile priest Jim Fletcher.
Then came news from her doctors. Without a heart transplant she had only 18 months to live. She believes there is a direct link between her serious heart problems and the sexual abuse over a lengthy period, and starting at a very young age.
"There is a link between heart disease, heart failure, trauma and stress," Mary said.
"I think the strain and stress of it all took its toll on my health."
Last Friday the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet released the confidential fourth volume of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry more than five years after the first three volumes were released. The confidential volume was withheld until all legal proceedings against Archbishop Wilson were completed.
The archbishop was convicted in May, 2018 of concealing child sex allegations about Jim Fletcher but the conviction was overturned on appeal in December.
In the confidential fourth volume Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, SC, found the archbishop's evidence about his knowledge of allegations against McAlinden in the 1980s and 1990s was "improbable", "unsatisfactory" and "implausible".
The report found he visited Merriwa twice in 1987 because of allegations about McAlinden from Merriwa Catholic principal Mike Stanwell, anti-corruption crusader MP John Hatton and after taking a statement from a woman alleging McAlinden sexually abused her daughter.
The archbishop told the commission he had a "clear recollection" of travelling with the bishop to see McAlinden in the parish where Mary and her family lived to "interview" the priest about the Merriwa allegations.
He said McAlinden denied the allegations and said they're "all lies", but the bishop suspended the priest. He spent time in Nelson Bay, at St Joseph's Home at Sandgate and in Ireland, before being transferred by Bishop Clarke to Bunbury diocese to work as a parish priest from November, 1988.
The commission rejected Archbishop Wilson's evidence that "The issues about Fr McAlinden were, after that period of time, a closed book to me".
Commissioner Cunneen found the archbishop played a central role in managing the priest in 1987, and again in 1995 when Bishop Clarke and the new Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone attempted to secretly defrock McAlinden with his "good name protected by the confidential nature of this process".
"They knew he molested children. Moving him on certainly didn't solve it," said Mary.
During a meeting with Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright after the diocese completed a confidential settlement with her, Mary asked for "a sign of acknowledgment and accountability" for the Catholic Church's failure to protect an unknown number of very young children from McAlinden over decades.
"I said I wanted the diocese to go to areas like Papua New Guinea (where McAlinden spent extensive periods between 1960 and 1981) and remote Aboriginal communities in Australia where McAlinden was sent, to actively seek other victims of McAlinden in those areas," she said.
"I asked him if he would back me in a program to do that. He said it would be difficult to do. I've heard nothing more from him about that.
"The church sent these paedophile priests to these places. Children were sexually abused there. I want the Catholic Church to put its hand up and say 'We did this. We want to find you'. Until that happens they're not really accountable. They've not taken responsibility for what they've done. They're just doing what they've been forced to do."
In March, 2018 former Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said the Catholic Church had to "deal with" the legacy issues of transferring child sex offenders overseas for decades.
"This is certainly an issue the church leadership in Australia needs to respond to and deal with," said Mr Sullivan, who was the public face of the Catholic Church's responses to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
A spokesperson for Archbishop Philip Wilson said he was unable to comment after major surgery this week. Bishop Bill Wright released a statement after he was contacted for comment:.