An Australian priest who set up a cult-like group based on the Peanuts comic strip to groom convent school girls has been dismissed from the clergy.
The Pope has agreed to Brisbane Archbishop Mark
Coleridge's petition to dismiss Francis Edward Derriman, nearly two
decades after his conviction for indecently assaulting a teenage girl
in the 1960s.
The child sex abuse royal commission has previously
criticised the Catholic Church for doing nothing for years about
Derriman, only starting the canonical process for his dismissal 15
years after the 1998 conviction.
Archbishop Coleridge has been
pushing for the Holy See to dismiss Derriman, twice meeting with
Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith personnel in Rome in an attempt
to expedite the 2014 petition.
Coleridge said his concerns about the delays in the Vatican processes
increased when five of his petitions to dismiss priests convicted of
child sex abuse were refused.
He was informed in October last
year that the Pope had decided to dismiss Derriman from the clerical
state, the archbishop revealed in a statement to the royal commission
released last Tuesday.
Derriman's victim Joan Isaacs told the
commission in 2013 that Derriman created a cult-like group that
included herself and three other children, using the Peanuts comic as a
platform and referring to himself and the children with the 'Brown'
Derriman, who was the chaplain of Brisbane's Sacred Heart
Convent at the time of the abuse, was not able to function as a priest
after being excommunicated in 1970 when he married.
He then moved to
But he remained an ordained Catholic priest until Pope
Francis agreed to his dismissal, the most severe disciplinary measure
in canon law that can be sought by a Catholic Church authority.
Coleridge has made eight petitions to the Holy See to dismiss priests
convicted of child sex abuse or possessing child exploitation material.
One of those priests has since died.
Archbishop Coleridge said the CDF refused his petitions in five cases.
One application remains pending.