Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pope helped tainted deacon

POPE Benedict XVI wrote a foreword to a 2004 book by a banned Melbourne theologian despite archbishops George Pell and Denis Hart knowing he had been sanctioned for suspected sexual misconduct.

Scott ''Alcuin'' Reid, a deacon, seems to have had some sway with the Vatican, as a foreword for another book was written by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, then head of the Catholic Church's office for clergy.

Mr Reid had his ''canonical faculties'' removed by the Melbourne Archdiocese in 1991, meaning he could no longer act as a deacon or priest's assistant, the most severe church punishment other than defrocking.

The Age has been told Mr Reid made repeated inappropriate and sometimes aggressive sexual advances while in the seminary in Melbourne and overseas.

The church says it has received no formal complaints under its ''Melbourne Response'' system dealing with claims of clerical abuse.

However, there were ongoing concerns about his behaviour and the church yesterday told The Age that successive Melbourne archbishops Frank Little, Pell and Hart had all ''without success, strenuously and repeatedly urged Scott Reid to seek laicisation [defrocking]''.

The Pope, who was then head of the Vatican's Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a 2000-word preface recommending Mr Reid's The Organic Developmnent of the Liturgy, which was published in July 2004. In it, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said Mr Reid's book ''teaches us … and invites us to further reflection''.

Cardinal Hoyos wrote in 2003 in the preface to Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described that Mr Reid ''has continued the work of … distinguished experts on the liturgical ceremonies''.

The Vatican has confirmed that in 2001 Cardinal Hoyos wrote to congratulate a French bishop who received a suspended prison sentence for refusing to turn in a paedophile priest to police.

It's not clear if the Vatican ever asked about Mr Reid, but the Melbourne Archdiocese says whenever a religious leader has asked, ''the Archbishop gives a frank response''.

There is no formal system for Catholic leaders to exchange information on those disciplined under church law for sexual offences.

Archbishop Hart told The Age yesterday that he had tried to charge Mr Reid under church law, to begin the defrocking process, but as he refused to submit voluntarily, the Archbishop was advised there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

Last year, Mr Reid was made a deacon in the French Diocese of Frejus-Toulon by Bishop Dominique Rey. The Melbourne Archdiocese says it conveyed its concerns to Bishop Rey.

Archbishop Hart told The Age he was ''unaware of anything untoward'' happening while Mr Reid was at Corpus Christi Seminary in Victoria in the 1980s.


No comments: