WHEN the Newcastle Herald was told that the Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright, had ordered the name of a former priest, the late Monsignor Roger Kennedy, removed from a Catholic school building at Gateshead, we approached the bishop through the diocesan administration, seeking to either confirm or dispute the account we had heard.
We had no reason to doubt the information the information was correct: we had been told the decision had been read out to parishioners during mass at Gateshead, where Monsignor Kennedy had served for many years. But such an important issue cannot - or should not - be left to second-hand accounts.
SATURDAY'S ARTICLE ON MONSIGNOR ROGER KENNEDY
So we wrote to the diocese on March 17, seeking confirmation, only to be told "there is no statement to be provided".
On three further occasions before our article on Saturday setting out what we knew, the diocesan offices responded to further questions - and an offer to discuss the situation if it had valid reasons for its silence - by saying it had "no comment" on the matter.
So our article was published on Saturday, adding - on the face of it - another lamentable chapter to the history book of child sexual abuse within the Maitland-Newcastle diocese.
Since his consecration in June 2011, Bishop Wright has wanted people to believe that the Catholic Church has changed in the wake of the damning revelations exposing the extraordinary extent of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy - both in this diocese and more generally.
As Bishop Wright wrote in February 2019: " . . . recalling again that child sexual abuse is not only a serious crime but also a morally repugnant and sickening act that often has devastating and long-lasting effects on its victims, I renew my commitment as bishop to ensuring the safety of children in our diocese, to co-operating with civil authorities in bringing offenders to justice, and to hearing and responding to victims and survivors to the best of our wisdom and ability to help."
THE HERALD'S SHINE THE LIGHT FILE
One way to do that, in this case, is to state simply to the general public why Monsignor Kennedy's name has been removed from the building that once bore it.
To this point, it has smeared his "good standing" but will not say why.
Hardly a "Christian" thing to do, especially in light of the church's promises about trust and transparency.
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