IT'S the scene that child sex survivors hope will galvanise Catholics to demand reforms within their church - of Hunter paedophile priest Vince Ryan holding up a communion host during a solitary mass in his home because the church has not defrocked him, more than two decades after he was first convicted and jailed.
"It's saying 'Here you go devout Catholics, here's the devil holding up the body of Christ because your church thinks that's okay. Are you cool with that?'" said Scott Hallett, one of three Hunter men whose shocking sexual abuse by Ryan at a Merewether church in 1975 forms the backdrop of the first episode of the ABC series Revelation.
The three part series which starts on Tuesday focuses on the Hunter in the first two episodes, and includes interviews by ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson with Ryan on Tuesday, and next week jailed St John of God Brother Bernard McGrath who committed crimes against boys at Morriset's Kendall Grange.
"He (Ryan) should have been defrocked back in the 1990s when he first went to jail but he wasn't, and he was charged again, and charged again, and he's still able to say mass. He's got those communion hosts from somewhere," Mr Hallett said.
"That just shows the Catholic Church has done absolutely nothing to change the culture that allowed these crimes to happen. And why aren't Australians demanding they change?
"The message from me to Catholics is I'm not attacking your religion or God, but there are people who've hijacked your church and they're still in power, and they're still making excuses even after the royal commission."
Revelation includes footage of Ryan in court in 2019 before he was convicted and jailed for sexually abusing two altar boys at Merewether in the 1970s and Cessnock in the 1980s, in his fourth round of convictions since 1996 for sexually abusing 33 boys, some as young as six. It also includes footage from his ordination in Rome in 1966 along with George Pell and Ryan's home film playing with children in Hunter Catholic school playgrounds.
Revelation's first episode also features Hunter priest Bill Burston questioning whether Ryan's 2019 convictions were just and the motives of the two men who reported Ryan's crimes against them as young children. Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright allowed Father Burston to retire in 2015 after damning commission of inquiry findings against the priest over his knowledge of child sex allegations involving other priests.
On Saturday Bishop Wright, who was interviewed by Ms Ferguson but has not seen the first episode, issued a statement to all parishes in which he distanced himself from the series and expressed concern that the documentary had taken a "sensationalist approach".
"I agreed to be interviewed for the documentary in the belief that it was intended to be a serious, in depth and considered exploration of the child sexual abuse crisis in our church and what we have done and continue to do, to address those truths," Bishop Wright said.
"However, based on Ms Ferguson's promotional interviews and the brief preview posted online, I am concerned that the documentary has taken a more sensationalist approach. If that is the case, the program may be disturbing to you as Catholics, or it may cause difficulties for you in your relations with family members, friends or colleagues."
Bishop Wright told parishioners that Ryan's defrocking case was "in Rome and we await the decision", but he did not detail when it was initiated or explain why Ryan was not defrocked when he was first convicted in 1996.
Father Burston's reported statements about Ryan's most recent convictions, and his statements questioning the suicide of Andrew Nash, 13, at Hamilton in 1974, or whether the boy was sexually abused by Brother Romuald at Marist Hamilton, were "utterly inappropriate" if true, Bishop Wright said in his statement.
Andrew Nash's death and his family's treatment for decades appears in episode two next week.
"The diocese accepts that Andrew Nash was abused by the criminal Brother Romuald and tragically took his own life," Bishop Wright said.
"If these are accurate reflections of Reverend Burston's private opinions, it was utterly inappropriate that he, as a priest of the diocese, stated them in a form likely to become public and cause distress."
Bishop Wright did not address Monsignor Patrick Cotter's role in covering up for Vince Ryan from 1974, when Cotter "decided to say nothing" after a first round of serious child sex allegations against Ryan, and allowed him to continue sexually abusing children for at least another two decades, including Scott Hallett.
Revelation includes an extended interview with former NSW Police Minister Troy Grant, who was officer in charge of the Hunter police investigation against Ryan when Mr Hallett and former altar boy and mate Gerard McDonald first reported allegations against Ryan to police in 1995.
During the program Mr Grant refers to the late Patrick Cotter as an "arrogant prick" and repeats his regret that Cotter was not charged with covering up for Ryan. Mr Grant interviewed Cotter and police later recommended charging him. Patrick Cotter was not charged in part because of his age.
Revelation includes detail by Mr Hallett and Mr McDonald of a 1975 incident at St Joseph's Church, Merewhether where Ryan performed oral sex on a group of altar boys, encouraged them to try to anally penetrate each other and attempted anal intercourse with at least one boy in front of the other boys.
Mr Hallett and Mr McDonald gave graphic evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2016 about Ryan's crimes against them, which included both men feeling the urge to kill him as teenagers when Ryan attended their Catholic high schools.
Bishop Wright defended the diocese's public acknowledgement of the late Bishop Leo Clarke's "failures to protect children by allowing Ryan to continue in ministry", but said a plaque on the wall of st John's Chapel at Maitland, citing the bishop's achievements, had been permanently removed after he was questioned about it by Ms Ferguson.
Bishop Clarke's protection of other Hunter child sex offender priests, including the notorious Denis McAlinden and John Denham, were not included in the statement.
Bishop Wright rejected Ms Ferguson's assessment of Ryan as "almost the perfect example" of the risk to children of the seal of confession.
"In fact Ryan had admitted abusing children as early as 1974 and not in sacramental confession. It was not confessional secrecy that prevented Ryan from being reported," Bishop Wright said in his statement.
"Ms Ferguson then questioned me on whether I thought it more important to protect children or to protect the seal of confession," he wrote.
"I do not believe that this issue can be reduced to a simple either/or proposition. Both things are incredibly important but they apply to different spheres of life."
Bishop Wright acknowledged it was important for the diocese to "remember the terrible things that were done here and the failures that allowed them to go on".
"But there are ways of remembering, ways of caring for survivors and ways of ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable people, which help keep us committed, from which we get better as a church, through which we contribute to a better society," he wrote.
"Unfortunately not all ways of revisiting the past are so constructive, but for our part, we must always enter into the conversation with patience, understanding, fairness and compassion."
Mr Hallett said he agreed to be interviewed for the series because the Australian public had committed hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up the Catholic Church and other institutions, and the Catholic Church was not acting on the royal commission's recommendations.
"The Catholic Church will only act when it's forced to. The message that should be going to Catholics is watch the series, then go to your church and demand the changes the royal commission said had to happen. That's how you fix the church," he said.