Archbishop Mark Coleridge under investigation for handling of abuse
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Archbishop Mark Coleridge under investigation for handling of abuse

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge is under investigation for his treatment of a Canberra woman who came to him with information on child abuse within the Catholic Church 13 years ago.

The news comes just two days after the Archbishop delivered a sermon at a Sunday morning mass in Rome, where he criticised the church’s handling of child sex abuse allegations.

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge.

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge.Credit:Kate Geraghty

The complaint, which has been subject to a confidential independent inquiry by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, relates to a 2006 meeting with the woman who came forth with information about child sexual abuse, when Archbishop Coleridge presided over the region.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese confirmed that the investigation had been launched by the church after it was made aware of the allegations a few months ago.

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"Discussions between the two archdioceses led to agreement that Canberra and Goulburn would establish an independent investigation of the allegations," the statement said.

"Archbishop Mark Coleridge cooperated with the investigation and strongly refuted the allegations. When the complainant was invited to cooperate with the independent investigation, she chose not to engage with the process.

"She has instead chosen to take these allegations to the media, which is deeply disappointing."

The woman, who does not wish to be identified, told The Canberra Times she had been complying with the investigation, but that it had been held up by administrative stalling on the part of the Archdiocese.

Archbishop Coleridge was ordained a priest in Melbourne in 1974, and was named Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane in 2012.

He was appointed as Archbishop of the Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese in 2006 where he remained until 2012, before moving to Brisbane.

Last week, he attended a four-day summit at the Vatican on child protection.

During his Sunday sermon, he said the church had at times "preferred indifference" to sexual abuse "and the desire to protect the church’s reputation, and even our own".

"We have shown too little mercy and therefore we will receive the same," he said.

He said pastors of the church had been given a power to serve, and that those who challenged the church to see abuse and its concealment for what they really were, were not the church’s enemy.

Victims and survivors "have led us to the painful truth by telling their stories with such courage," he said.

"At times, however, we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy, but we have not loved them, we have not blessed them. In that sense, we have been our own worst enemy."

Sally Pryor is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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