The strange case of Bishop Saunders leaves many questions unanswered

The Press Office simply announced that Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Saunders’ resignation. On a Saturday. In August.

Pope Francis greets Bishop Christopher A. Saunders of Broome, Australia, during a meeting with Australia's bishops at the Vatican June 24, 2019. Bishop Saunders and other Australian bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to report on the status of their dioceses to the pope and Vatican officials. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See AUSTRALIA-ABORIGINAL-SAUNDERS June 28, 2019.

So, the Vatican announced on Saturday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Christopher Saunders from the pastoral leadership of the Diocese of Broome in Australia.

Bishop Saunders is 71 years-old. He has been steeped in scandal regarding sexual misconduct – abuse of boys – and embroiled in controversy over personnel mismanagement as well as playing fast-and-loose with diocesan finances.

A suffragan of Perth, Broome is an “outback diocese” sprawling over nearly 300 thousand square miles in the state of Western Australia. The city from which the See of Broome takes its name sits in the southwest niche of a peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean, about 700 miles southwest of Darwin as the crow flies. There’s more space where there’s no one than there are places where there’s anyone. One could almost say that Broome is in the middle of nowhere.

Christopher Saunders became the Bishop of Broome in 1996. His election to the see followed his more than two decades of service as a priest there. During his twenty years’ priestly service, he worked in several of the missions in the diocese. Those missions ministered primarily to aboriginal people. The abuse allegations – which Saunders has strongly and repeatedly denied – reportedly come from aboriginal parish communities.

Police in Western Australia looked at the sexual abuse allegations, which went back at least two decades. They decided not to press charges, but they did not exonerate the bishop. Police reportedly turned their findings over to Church authorities. Church authorities in Australia reportedly had multiple reports of Saunders’ misconduct no later than April of 2019, and knew about the police investigation as early as October of 2018. It was only in 2020, however – right before an Australian Broadcasting Corporation news reports on the police inquiry were set to air – that the Vatican finally ordered an investigation into Saunders’ governance.

That investigation didn’t look at the abuse allegations against Bishop Saunders, but its scope did include allegations Saunders mishandled abuse complaints against others. Saunders went on sabbatical during the Church investigation, though he stayed in the diocese and continued to say funeral Masses. The results of the Church investigation went to Pope Francis and stayed with him. Neither the Vatican nor any other Church authority has ever officially published the results.

You wouldn’t know any of that from the one line in the bulletin for the Press Office of the Holy See on Saturday, though. The Press Office simply announced that Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Saunders’ resignation. On a Saturday. In August.

You’ll occasionally see this described as “customary practice” but the thing is, the Press Office used to tell us at least whether the guy resigning had sent his letter upon reaching the age of retirement, or if he was resigning for some other grave reason. The language was “in keeping with Canon 401§1” when it was for reached limits of age, 401§2 if for some other reason.

“Kids or cancer” is the way some Vatican watchers would grimly refer to the ambiguity created by an unspecified 401§2 indication. We talked about how easy it would be to avoid any confusion. All it would take was a tweak to the law, dividing 401§2 into subsections: one for health, another (or others) for … other stuff.

There have been a few occasions on which a fellow who had done no wrong but resigned for reasons of mental or physical health came in for some rough treatment because of the way things are set up. Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas SJ, emeritus of Kaunas in Lithuania, was one. For all Rome’s talk of how important it is to protect reputations, no remedy for this needless ambiguity has been forthcoming. In fact, the Vatican has stopped saying even whether a resigning bishop is doing so under 401§1 or 401§2.

To hear the Australian bishops tell it, you’d never know there was any hint of suspicion regarding Christopher Saunders.

“During his time in office,” read a statement released by the Diocese of Broome and carried on the Australian bishops’ conference website, “Bishop Christopher initiated many pastoral and spiritual initiatives for the growth and betterment of the People of God in the Kimberley region.”

“He has long established an active presence throughout the vast region and is well known to many people,” the Broome statement went on to say, “Catholic and non-Catholic alike.”

“We wish Bishop Saunders an enjoyable and fruitful retirement,” the statement continued. “When the opportunity becomes available people will have the chance to farewell the Bishop.”

The rest is an announcement that the Bishop of Geraldton, Michael Morrissey, is named Apostolic Administrator of Broome. That’s it.

Two and a half years ago, Pope Francis committed every bishop on earth to a threefold watchword: Responsibility, Accountability, Transparency. He introduced some paper reforms, chief among which was Vos estis lux mundi. Then, he proved remarkably reluctant to use the new tools he’d given himself. The reforms appear designed not to work. Now, we’re apparently back to pretending there’s nothing to see here.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


About Christopher R. Altieri 130 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books. He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.

32 Comments

    • It is more than annoying. It is ire than disgusting.
      But isn’t this just in line with what we have seen in past years…?
      How could anyone be surprised?

        • Thank you for giving that link to all of us Brother Martin.
          From the link: Henri de Lubac….

          “I do not believe that structural reforms, about which there has been much debate for some years, are ever the main part of a program that must aim at the only true renewal, spiritual renewal. I even fear that the present-day inflation of such projects and discussions furnishes an all-too-convenient alibi to avoid it”

          I agree with the above statement as at this moment in time what the church needs is renewal rather than reform.
          So “In the desert prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”……

          Please consider continuing this theme via the link
          https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/08/26/what-does-pastoral-even-mean-anymore/#comment-276281

          kevin your brother
          In Christ

  1. How much more of this ongoing never-ending smiling hypocrisy of ‘hail fellow well met’ be tolerated without some true humility been shown by the leadership (Bishops) to the flock.

    This avoidance behaviour (Self grandioso) has a name it is called ‘Stonewalling’, and its root is in Clericalism. It is what the bishops used and use against victims. Pope Francis and the Vatican have chosen once again to be “non-responsive” just as the bishops did for decades when it came to the ongoing abuse cover-ups.

    An institutionalized discriminating (Self-serving) statement was given by Pope Francis on Tuesday 11/9/18 in a homily.

    “In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and has it in for bishops.” He said: “True we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins so they are visible in order to scandalize the people”

    Drawing attention to collusion with evil..V.. that has and is being committed by the elite within the church is definitely not the work of the Devil, as a divided house will not stand’ rather the devil delights in the manifest hypocrisy of the present leadership. Self-protection is the name of this game, as Pope Francis’s statement is fundamentally insincere/dishonest or alternatively, it comes from a clericalized mind that is deluded/blind in regards to the ongoing reality of the present situation.

    So, how are we to understand this statement as in “We are all sinners, we bishops”

    The majority of us acknowledge that we are sinners, but ‘Sin’ acknowledged requires the manifestation of true repentance, as in, the ongoing cover-up of the child abuse scandal and blasphemy committed by the leadership, in regards to the true DM Image one of Broken Man. So these words by Pope Francis ‘ we sinners’…. could be interpreted as a consolidation of serious sin. But yes, it would be a ‘sort of Truth’, a self-serving truth, one that has nothing to do with the ‘Truth’, the transforming action/’criteria’ of The Holy Spirit, as it maintains the status quo.

    So, in the image above does not the pope set the same example for all bishops?

    Sadly yes, one of ‘personal’ ‘spiritual worldliness’ before the faithful, he does not confront evil openly, rather he colludes with it, in ‘double talk’ (Two-faced) so as to maintain the status quo. While he wears the mantle of Jesus Christ, resulting in a ‘self-made image’ of worldly holiness/goodness. True Christian leadership instils trust and it does this by telling the truth, Pope Francis needs to be open, by speaking to the faithful from the heart while confronting the ongoing works of evil within the leadership of the Church.

    Pope Francis “There is something I have understood with great clarity,” he said. “This drama of abuse…has behind it a Church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God.”

    But what is so galling about this statement is Pope Francis’s apparent warped refusal to look at the state of the leadership honestly, and then hold each other accountable openly before the flock, as only then will they draw closer to the faithful (People of God) and our Father in Heaven.

    Here is another photo projection of avoidance behaviour (Self grandioso) in evasive manoeuvrings.

    US bishops’ silence on meeting with Pope could put their credibility on sex abuse at risk – LifeSite (lifesitenews.com)

    Quote In response to a previous post in reference to the image given in the link above

    Yes, the photo issued by the “Holy See Press Office” was selected by Lifesite news. And most probably used to emphasize its reader’s concerns, as many people are shocked (Not just extremists) at what appear to be breeding rings of spiritual corruption, that facilitate and encourage homosexual activity within the hierarchy of the church. You do not have to be a bigot in agreeing with them.

    “A photo of people laughing at one moment proves absolutely nothing ”

    True, but a comparison would be in seeing a photo of the local council of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, calling a meeting to discuss the said incident. To then be seen behaving in such a jocular manner, would it not incite public outrage?

    Our Lord Himself has given the faithful the means to confront these ongoing shenanigans.
    With these words which demands action

    “Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription. “Jesus I trust in thee”. I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world”

    Yes, we are all sinners but words without action (Constant dialogue) are just a distraction. Please consider continuing via the link

    https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/08/02/when-harlots-ruled-the-church/#comment-272532

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

      • Many will agree with you, dear brother Kevin.

        There are millions of Catholics who could recount incidents of serious clergy sexual immorality and of hierarchical obfuscating failures to adequately address what are actually heinous criminal acts. Such a horrid example church leaders are setting for the whole world!

        Yet, how few grasp the basic cause. Faithlessness is what lets evil in among us.

        Deep personal faith in Jesus Christ as the One Way to live faithfully and to attain to the eternity of God’s glorious realm is what makes THE difference. That means knowing and obeying The Catechism of the Catholic Church and its unshakeable foundations in the beautiful Apostolic Witness of The New Testament.

        For Catholics everywhere, this must be the criterion of authenticity. It is how we are to measure ourselves & one another; and, more importantly, interrogate all who are given in authority over us, from the Pope all the way down to our local catechists and RE teachers (see 1 John 4:1-4).

        Pay no attention to those many high & low who fail THE test (including many ‘good’ church inhabitants). They are not one with us in Jesus Christ’s Body. It doesn’t matter what ‘positions’ they hold, what functions they conduct, nor what pretensions they make – they have simply fallen at the first fence.

        So, dear brother Kevin, I maintain that the symptoms you recount and that millions of other good men and women experience, have one basic cause: FAITHLESSNESS and its consequence: alienation from the living Body of King Jesus Christ.

        In the Church we have gone on far too long pretending that chalk is cheese.

        Of course we should continue to work with them, love them, and pray for them but be very certain not to imagine those faithless people are one with all the people who are persevering in loving obedience to our Savior and His Apostles.

        Always in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ; love and blessings from Marty

        • Thank you brother Martin for your comment Faithfulness for Catholics everywhere, this must be the criterion of authenticity. Yes, I agree absolutely while personally realising that the only way to be authentic is to walk His Way in humility/honesty because quoting St Paul ‘who knew Christians were locked in combat with “the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” also admitted that “what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do. … I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil that I do not want to do” (Romans 7:15, 19). Paul admits he is at war with himself (v. 23) and needs God’s grace to prevail’.

          At the last supper Peter declared, “Never at any time will you wash my feet!” “If I do not wash your feet,” Jesus answered, “you will no longer be my disciple.”, then, Lord, Simon Peter replied, “not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well” While Jesus teaches us that this is not necessary as the man who hears the Word of God and accepts it, is “clean already” because in endeavouring to make ‘The tree good’ is to Repent (Change of direction) while the symbolic washing of feet is the cleansing of our daily/continual contamination with our fallen human nature (the dust from which we arose) and this can only come about in a man by accepting continually God’s cleansing water of grace in humility before Him.

          After the Crucifixion in the Upper Room, we see those who had travelled the road of enlightenment/self-realization with Jesus (The Word Made Flesh) hide in fear of the Jewish leadership, while now knowing the full reality of their brokenness (Betrayal, cowardice and Faithlessness before ‘The Test’ sent by our Father in heaven. Similar to those who ” have simply fallen at the first fence”. Many of whom, with others (Cultural Catholics), are looking for a way back. But sadly, any stirring of Hope is stifled almost immediately, as they are often entangled within a sinful situation (Mortal Sin).

          I identify with true DM Image one of broken man because I know that is what I am. See the link
          https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/03/10/gods-law-of-love-a-spirituality-of-the-ten-commandments-part-3/#comment-250059 and because of this, I depend on God’s goodness/mercy alone. While five years ago I also stumbled ‘at the fence’ and became disorientated in been terrorized by worldly and indescribable spiritual dark forces while also been confronted with the full reality of my fallen self. (This is ongoing although my heart is now still/peaceful, thank the Lord)

          It could be said of the Apostles in the upper room (With others in the church today) that their hearts were now readied, to receive The Holy Spirit as a humble heart is His known dwelling place, as in

          “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid”

          In reality, our Faithfulness can only be achieved in humility, before God, as “God will not despise a broken spirit and contrite heart” and neither will the ‘faithful’. The leadership and others have nothing to fear, no matter how compromised, as the cleansing grace of humility (Full ‘open’ acknowledgement of past failings/sins ) confers authenticity which is the communal bond of love that holds His flock together.

          The true Divine Mercy Image one of Broken man given by Our Lord Himself to the whole church I believe has the power within itself to draw back into communion through a sincere public act of humility/contrition all those who have been ensnared ..V.. ‘so many’ and others who are entangled in sinful situations (Mortal Sin) while understanding that when mercy is received insincerity

          “Those who are forgiven much love much”

          Love and blessings to you also Marty

          kevin your brother
          In Christ

          • Brother Kevin, thank you so much for such an open account of your faith walk. This is the way for all true believers.

            This is the transparency that our King, Jesus Christ, calls us to.

            In the early Church, our faith walk and confessions of failures were not secret things (as is made abundantly plain in The New Testament).

            As the Church became blended with worldly powers, secrecy was used to conceal the failures of the aristocrats from the Church body at large. Hypocrisy produced religiosity and the evil fruit of schism after schism.

            In his September 1 homily, Pope Francis calls our Church back to her original allegiance to and persevering imitation of Christ:

            At the general audience, Pope Francis asked Catholics to reflect on how they live the faith, and to strive to put Christ at the center of their actions to avoid falling into mere formalities.
            “Does the love of Christ crucified and risen again remain at the center of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation, or are we content with a few religious formalities to salve our consciences?” the Pope asked in his weekly message.

            Speaking in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, he continued: “Are we attached to the precious treasure, to the beauty of the newness of Christ, or do we prefer something that attracts us momentarily but then leaves us empty inside?”
            “The ephemeral often knocks on the door of our days, but it is a sad illusion, which makes us fall into superficiality and prevents us from discerning what is really worth living for,” he added.
            Pope Francis’ weekly catechesis centered on a passage from St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, in which the Apostle says: “O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Holy Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard?”
            The Pope began his message by underlining that the Scripture passage and its message comes from St. Paul, not from him.
            “This is not something new, this explanation, not something of mine: what we are studying is what St. Paul says in a very serious conflict with the Galatians,” he emphasized.
            “This is simply a catechesis on the Word of God expressed in the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians; nothing else.”
            He noted that St. Paul is “not courteous” with the language he uses to address the Galatians. In other letters, Paul calls them “brothers” or “dear friends,” but here is angry, the Pope explained, pointing out that Paul calls them “foolish,” which is also sometimes translated as “stupid.”
            “Paul does so not because they are not intelligent, but because, almost without realizing it, they risk losing the faith in Christ that they have received with so much enthusiasm,” Pope Francis said.
            “They are foolish because they are unaware that the danger is that of losing the valuable treasure, the beauty, of the newness of Christ and so they may miss the possibility of attaining a new, hitherto unhoped-for freedom.”
            St. Paul is “shaking up their consciences: this is why it is so forceful,” Pope Francis stated. “He takes them back to the starting point of the Christian vocation.”
            Pope Francis emphasized: “Paul’s intention is to compel Christians to realize what is at stake, so they do not allow themselves to be enchanted by the voice of the sirens who want to lead them to a religiosity based solely on the scrupulous observance of precepts.”
            Even when we are tempted to turn to superficiality, however, God still bestows his gifts on us, he said.
            “Even today, people come and harangue us, saying:
            ‘No! Holiness is in these precepts, in these things, you must do this and that,’ and propose an inflexible religiosity, the inflexibility that takes away from us that freedom in the Holy Spirit that Christ’s redemption gives us,” the Pope continued.
            He warned Catholics to “beware of the rigidity they propose to you: be careful, because inflexibility does not come from the Spirit of God.”

            Following this truly Petrine, apostolic leadership by our Pope, could we then say that every Catholic organization needs to continually measure itself thus: “Are we leading our people into an ever-growing, loving relationship with King Jesus Christ? Or, are we going through the motions of religiosity?”

            The litany of offences reported from Broome Archdiocese suggest they’ve been locked in religious rituals and routines, without intimacy with The Living Christ and hence without the very necessary help of The Holy Spirit.
            As Australian Catholics, surely all of us must search our hearts . . .

            Ever in the patient love of Our Beloved Lamb; blessings from Marty

          • Love and blessings to you Kevin. I look forward to your responses to articles. Thank you. I needed to read this one.

          • Thank you, brother Martin, for your response, in quoting Pope Francis
            “Even today, people come and harangue us, saying:
            ‘No! Holiness is in these precepts, in these things, you must do this and that,’

            Obviously, he cannot be referring to these precepts, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt do no murder,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and all other precepts, are summed up in this one command, “Thou shalt love thy fellow man as much as thou lovest thyself.”

            So, do you know exactly what precepts is he referring to?

            As an aside Martin I am not Australian I live in the uk.

            Shalom
            kevin your brother
            In Christ

  2. Sadly the Pope himself has not been a model of Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency, given his refusal to fire corrupt prelates like Maradiaga and Parolin, his continued protection of sexual coverup artists and predators like Zanchetta and Pena Parra, and the absolutely dismal state of the Vatican’s finances, as exemplified by the Becciu affair. A leader must set an example.The late US President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk that stated “The Buck stops here”. It would be refreshing if our current Pope (or failing that his successor) were to adopt the same responsible attitude.

    • IN REPLY TO BR KEVIN WALTERS, SEPTEMBER 5 2021

      re: “So, Marty, do you know exactly what precepts is he referring to?”

      Elsewhere Pope Francis has made it plain that whatever opposes the apostolic teachings of The New Testament is unacceptable to him. e.g. In his first general audience since surgery in early July, Pope Francis spoke about the true Gospel being revealed by Jesus Christ, not by individuals or founders of movements. “With the truth of the Gospel, one cannot negotiate,” Pope Francis said. “Either you receive the Gospel as it is, as it was announced.”

      Since The Catechism of the Catholic Church is built on over 3,500 citations from The New Testament (The Gospel), I assume that Moses’ 10 Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5), as elaborated and given to the whole world by our Lord Jesus Christ, e.g. in Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7, are held to be totally un-revisable by Pope Francis (and many millions of Catholic Christians, like me).

      Hoping that clarifies your vitally important query, dear Brother Kevin of England.

      Eternally in the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ; love and blessings from marty

      PS will post another comment, providing an accessible synopsis of Jesus’ finalizing of Moses commandments, that I hope Pope Francis is referring to. Your comments and improvements on this are welcome, too.

      • Thank you, Brother Martin for clarifying my” vitally important query” in regards to Pope Francis stance in your response “With the truth of the Gospel, one cannot negotiate,” Pope Francis said “Either you receive the Gospel as it is, as it was announced.”

        The fact that I had to ask such a question “do you know exactly what precepts he is referring to?” sadly says everything about my personal confidence in Pope Francis’s leadership/integrity.

        In your post below directed at Tim and myself, you say “A world (& Church) that’s morally (and physically) collapsing is in dire need of returning to the Gospel Truth. Pope Francis often reminds us of this”.

        I will now proceed to the said post and continue Dr Martin James Rice SEPTEMBER 5, 2021 AT 6:37 PM

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

  3. I just want to confirm the fact that announcements of bishops’ resignations have always cited the relevant section of canon law, as vague as it might be. Of course, our current Pope has less regard for canon law than any other Pope in my memory.

    • Our bishop too just resigned. The official announcement did not cite any reason, but priests mentioned he had health concerns. Our bishop, like the one discussed in the article, was also 71. If there’s no official reason given, is one to therefore assume some criminality? Where’s the concept of innocent until proven guilty? I too have a problem with some of our Pope’s statements, but this article is just muckraking.

      • Dear Jay,

        I don’t agree with you that this carefully-written, serious, and balanced article by Christopher R. Altieri is in any way “muck-raking”.

        It points out that the many failures to tell the whole truth and, often deliberate, acts of half-truth and deception, subvert our trust in the honesty of the leadership of the Church.

        Today, we read of yet another flagrant example:
        Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Spanish bishop for “strictly personal reasons”. Speculation is rampant as to why. ‘Religion Digital’ reports the prelate left the diocese without saying goodbye to either his priests or the faithful.

        According to several reports coming from Spain this week, Xavier Novell, 52, ex-bishop of Solsona: “freely” resigned the episcopacy for Silvia Caballol, 38, a woman who works as a psychologist and is an author of erotic novels”.

        The Vatican’s decree announcing that Novell had his resignation as bishop of Solsona accepted did not mention him leaving the priesthood.

        According to Spanish magazine ‘Vida Nueva’, Caballol is the mother of two. She has two published books, one of which has Satanism at its core. She presents herself as “an inveterate reader of romantic and erotic novels.” “I consider myself a creative person, who loves to love and be loved,” she wrote.

        Echoing the articles contention: Why is it, again and again, that the unvarnished truth has to be wheedled-out by investigative journalists, rather than frankly presented by our Church leaders?

        Haven’t they the slightest insight on what God thinks of their ‘monkey-business’?

  4. So the police investigated the abuse cases and did not press any charge against him. They are the only ones who knew the whole story. They might not have exonerated the Bishop but they definitely did not charge him with any criminal behavior. Till something else is available for us to come to a clear-cut conclusion, it is better to wait before jumping to conclusions.

    • Hi Mal,

      On the surface, that looks like a valid observation.

      However, in the context of Police, Clergy, and Aboriginal peoples’ inter-relationships in Broome (and, sadly, in much of Australia), it’s par-for-the-course for multiple clergy offences against Aboriginal people to be swept under the carpet.

      In this case, it was serious and serial, so Police records of Saunders’ offenses were handed to higher Church authorities who considered the evidence of criminal abuses to be so persuasive as to require Saunders’ removal.

      All-in-all, Mal, you must admit that Christopher R. Altieri’s article and the heart-felt comments of disgust registered here by ordinary Catholics, are fair and appropriate.

      Take care; keep well. Ever in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from Marty

      • Thank you Dr. Rice for the info and your blessing. I do believe that these days, in Western Australia, they do consider complaints made against aborigines – adults and children – seriously. Especially if they are against the Catholic Church.
        Unfortunately, there is a lot of child abuse happening in Australia. I am not just talking about the Church. A report has claimed that around 32,000 children are abused every year, and that 35 per cent of Australians do not even see child abuse as a major issue. The statistics concerning the aboriginal communities are frightening.
        Having said that, I must say that there have been many false accusations made. One priest – a good friend of mine – had been accused and he was afraid because his only defense was to say that he did not abuse the child. Fortunately for him, the police realized that at the time of the abuse, the priest was not in that country town. It turned out that that his father was the abuser. This is why I say that we should wait before jumping to conclusions.

        • Thanks for your well-reasoned and courteous reply, dear Mal.

          The clincher, it seems, is that Rome did not say this 71 year-old was retired because of mental or physical health problems.

          As Christopher R. Altieri says, under the circumstances, that hiatus speaks volumes. Yet, as you say Mal, whilst Rome’s deliberate lack of details fails the transparency test, it doesn’t clear-up the matter.

          Maybe the reason is that W.A. Police and the Roman Curia are colluding in trying to deny abused Aboriginal children legal recourse to justice and reparation. As you write, we can’t be sure on the evidence so far made public.

          No doubt investigative journalists will be right into this. Given the scenic beauty and unique character of this part of Australia, I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘The Christopher A. Saunders Affair’ isn’t high on the list of movie-makers.

          When will Rome wake-up & realize that unfailing honesty & total transparency are the godly effective way to protect the Church (see 2 Corinthians 13:8).

          Thanks for conversing.

          Always in the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ; love & blessings from Marty

          • Marty,

            According to the Australian website, Cathnews, Bishop Saunders, who has served that Parish for fifty years as deacon, priest and Bishop, has “strenuously denied any allegations of wrongdoing and voluntarily stood aside from his post when the allegations were made public.”
            The website also tells us that The “Vatican initiated a separate, internal investigation into Bishops Saunders’ management of the diocese, granting him a six-month sabbatical”. So, it does seem that he is not being accused as an abuser but as one who mishandled abuse complaints made against others.
            Love and blessings from Mal

      • It’s also par for the course for the Australian government to be anti-Catholic such as in the unjust prosecution of Cardinal Pell. Just because some aboriginals were abused doesn’t mean this bishop is automatically guilty.

  5. Given the Australian government’s well know anti-Catholic stance, witness the prosecution of Cardinal Pell, if the police did not find a criminal act against the bishop, one strongly suspects no criminally exists. I’m not saying the bishop is innocent, but that this article is little more than innuendo. There is no proof of anything, one way or another. What I also believe is that Catholic World Report clearly does not like our Pope. Fine, that’s their choice, and I too find some of the Pope’s statements to be problematic. But, this article of innuendo seems aimed at discrediting the Pope, with ZERO EVIDENCE of any wrongdoing.

  6. But even more devastating is the spiritual inheritance of his legacy. The Diocese is spiritually gutted. One Priest requested catechisms to teach the children the response was “ no just take them fishing”! Be rest assured if your Bishop is not promoting the Faith / Sacraments and not responding to letters then something bigger is happening!

    • Dear Tim, your are SO right! (this reply also refers to Brother Kevin Walters)

      Our ‘liberated’ cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, catechists, and RE teachers need to come back to The Gospel and it’s emphatic emphasis on loving God by obeying the commandments, and loving others as we love ourselves. Deriving from The New Testament, The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best practical exposition of that. How does it synchronize with our Catholic emphasis on Holy Mass?

      The blessings of God’s New Covenant are sealed by the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ and by His poured-out blood. God’s side of this incredibly gracious, life-giving transaction could not be more transparent, complete, and eternally robust.

      What, then, is required of us humans by the Gospel’s New Covenant? Primarily, we are to cooperate by doing our best to keep God’s commandments. For Catholic Christians that’s more than was given to Moses at Mt Sinai (Deuteronomy 5:1-22), since for the last two millennia we’ve had privileged access to the divine edition of these commandments, as exegeted by Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Matthew 5:17-48). The Jesus-refurbished commandments, like their Jewish antecedents, can be easily memorized.

      HAND ONE.
      Thumb: With all my heart, mind, body, and soul I will worship the One revealed by Jesus Christ: Father/Son/Holy Spirit; Index Finger: I will have no other god nor any idol; Middle Finger: I will not use God’s name profanely, and will swear no oaths; Ring Finger: I will keep the Sabbath Day holy; Little Finger: I will honor my mum and dad.

      HAND TWO.
      Thumb: I will love every person and will not hurt or kill anyone, nor hate, nor think evil; Index Finger: I will maintain sexual purity and faithfulness in thought, word, and deed; Middle Finger: I will not steal but follow Christ in giving not taking; always forgiving, never taking revenge; Ring Finger: I will tell the truth and not lie nor deceive nor slander; Little finger: I will not covet, for God in Christ is providing all I need.

      At Holy Communion we symbolize our New Covenant obligations by stretching out our two hands to meet God stretching out His Body and Blood for us.

      Simple ‘finger commandments’ can give us confidence in our personal and collective, ever-deepening love affair with God in Christ Jesus.

      The world depends on a new covenant-keeping Catholic Church FAR more than she depends on the world. In Christ, we are a priestly people interceding for all humankind.

      It is a lie that any-old religion will do! When the Catholic Church flourishes in loving obedience to God, then the whole world will flourish.

      The inescapable spiritual principle is that when The Church flouts her covenant, the world itself loses its way. Can we see: It is no small thing to be called to be a fully committed Catholic follower of Christ.

      A world (& Church) that’s morally (and physically) collapsing is in dire need of returning to the Gospel Truth. Pope Francis often reminds us of this.

      Take care everyone; stay well. Ever in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

      • “A world (& Church) that’s morally (and physically) collapsing is in dire need of returning to the Gospel Truth. Pope Francis often reminds us of this”

        Yes! but without that Truth been enacted upon within the heart His Word will remain sterile within the Gospel as presently mere words without action are just a distraction.

        Our first Pope Peter is a badly flawed but honest individual as his ongoing awareness/ fluidity before the serving (Judgement) of the Truth in all circumstances, is startling, even unto death, as, in humility, he still perceives and manifests his unworthiness before mankind and God.

        Peters chosen way of death (Martyrdom), as in to be crucified upside down, is a manifestation of an ‘on-going’ humble self-reflecting heart, before His living Word (Will) teaching us by his example to serve the Truth in humility, when and wherever we may encounter that which opposes It. We see his humility in action with his confrontation with Paul (Circumcision) to the serving of the Truth, rather than clinging to his sincerer ‘ingrained’ beliefs (Precepts).

        Yes! Martin presently the Church is in turmoil as many within the leadership have forgotten that they should via the Holy Spirit be the ‘living water’ that creates fluidity for the mortar (Serving of the Truth) to bind and hold His house together, humility is the ‘Key’ but like Peter can they also bend their knee.

        Without a fundamental shift of direction by the leadership of the church, the Church will continue to dissipate, because its proclamation of Love of God and love of neighbor, without the serving of the Truth, is to blind oneself to the ongoing reality of the present sinful situations within the church, from Priests cohabitating, others compromised (Homosexual activities), the teachings within Humanae vitae ignored and undermined etc.

        A recent statement by Pope Francis in regards to the present ongoing abuse crisis.
        “The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case,” he said to the officials of the Vatican. “It is undeniable that some in the past, out of irresponsibility, disbelief, lack of training, inexperience — we need to judge the past with a hermeneutics of the past — or spiritual and human myopia, treated many cases without the seriousness and promptness that was due. That must never happen again. This is the choice and the decision of the whole Church.”

        Credibility has been lost, so why should anyone accept this statement, as the root of the problem is one of authoritarianism and elitism, that is embedded within Clericalism. This situation has to be tackled before any new structures (Wineskins) are put in place, as words without action are just a distraction.

        Only a true seen manifest transformation of the Priesthood will bring about a fundamental shift of culture and for this to happen the leadership of the Church will have to be led by the Holy Spirit, to embrace humility. Because without a true reflection of the moral/humble/martyred leader-ship of Peter, by Pope Francis and others, its credibility will continue to be incredible. Someone has to lead in humility and restore credibility and as Peter, it falls upon him to do so.

        Initially, Pope Francis could have dealt with the McCarrick and abuse crisis situation transparently, if he had done so, he would have shown his own vulnerability/failings (as all, to some degree, have been compromised within Clericalism), at whatever the personal cost to himself, in doing so he would have led the church into a new era, one of the ‘Servant leader’ One who follows the teachings/dictates of Jesus Christ, setting an example before the leadership (Bishops), in been Peter rather than trying to maintain the status quo of an ‘old boys club’ which is compromising ‘all’ within the leadership.

        Our Lord Himself via the true divine Mercy Message/Image one of Broken Man has exposed the reality of a self-serving elitism embedded in Clericalism, emanating from arrogance before God and mankind an arrogance which took and belittled God’s Holy name. This exposer of hubris by divine intervention, demands a counter-response by those who would be faithful before His inviolate Will (Word). And this can only be done in humility, as a humble heart (Church) will never cover its tracks or hide its shortcomings, and in doing so confers authenticity, as it walks in its own vulnerability/weakness/brokenness in trust/faith before God and mankind.

        It is a heart (Church) to be trusted, as it ‘dispels’ darkness within its own ego/self, in serving God (Truth) first, before any other.

        So Yes “A world (& Church) that’s morally (and physically) collapsing is in dire need of returning to the Gospel Truth But where is the leader to lead us?

        Shalom dear brother Marty
        kevin your brother
        In Christ

        • Thank you, beloved brother Kevin.

          What could be added? Maybe, just The Good News in its simplicity . . .

          Authenticity hinges entirely on OBEDIENCE (necessarily including genuine repentances from disobediences). John chapters 14, 15, & 16 instruct us all:

          1. “If you love Me you will believe My commandments and keep them.”
          2. “And, loving Me by obeying Me, you will be loved by My Father God.”
          3. “I will ask The Father, who will give you The Holy Spirit of Truth.”
          4. “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things & remind you of all My commands.”

          John 10:27-30 distils the essence:
          Any who claim to have The Holy Spirit without attending to Jesus Christ’s words and surrendering their lives to follow His commandments are deceived (be they Pope, priest, pastor, President, prime-minister, or peasant).

          Obedience depends on faith and this is the fence where many souls balk.

          From Genesis 2:17 (where Adam is commanded to obey God), all through to Revelation 12:17b, where our Blessed Mother Mary’s true children are described as: “all who obey God’s commandments and bear witness for Jesus.”, obedience is a non-negotiable requirement for everyone desiring to inherit God’s Realm.

          The Holy Trinity will only indwell an obedient people, to miraculously make us A Priestly Church, under Christ, able to intercede for all humanity.

          Can we please GET EXCITED about this extraordinary calling!

          Lacking the indwelling Presence, a disobedient church is merely a powerless charade of Christianity. A creature of this world, it goes through the motions but is displeasing to God and incapable of interceding for this world.

          The awful paradox today is that we try to teach the world yet, as a body, we ourselves are largely unteachable. May God transform us.

          As matters stand, I believe that – like Pope Benedict 16 – Pope Francis is fully alert to the problem and is doing his best to get us all back on track.

          Take care everyone; keep safe. Always in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. The strange case of Bishop Saunders leaves many questions unanswered – Catholic World Report – The Old Roman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*