The royal commission has heard that a “paralysis” plagued the Catholic Church’s response to abuse allegation for decades and that made innocent children vulnerable to the dangers from paedophile priests. Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart appeared before the child abuse royal commission and blamed top church officials including Archbishop Frank Little for the situation. However, he did not criticize his predecessor Cardinal George Pell.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Archbishop Hart described processes followed by Melbourne Archdiocese as a “complete failure” when it came to dealing with paedophile issues. He also described the allegations referred to Doveton parish Catholic education officials as “just a horror story.”

“What is now apparent to me is that there was knowledge and a failure to act. I have just been totally appalled by the extent and the depravity of the offenders and the suffering and ruination of lives of the survivors,” he said.

In another shocking revelation, the commission has heard that in 1968, paedophile priest Father Wilfred “Bill” Baker had no qualms disclosing heartlessly the confessions of a 13-year-old altar boy BTU. He was an assistant priest at St Mary's Parish and chaplain of St Mary's Boys School in St Kilda East. Baker disclosed the child’s confessions to notorious paedophile priest Ronald Pickering so that he was abused more by the latter, reports The Guardian.

“By mentioning it to Fr Pickering, Fr Baker clearly had no hesitation in breaking the seal of my confession to him and also Fr Pickering appeared to be agitated and was clearly concerned about this,” said BTU.

BTU revealed that the abuse made him tremendously confused as a child as he was always taught how holy priests are and how they are just next to God. However, whatever Father Pickering was doing to him was not at all in line with Christian teachings. BTU was abused by Pickering till the age of 23 which broke him completely.

In 1976, predator priest Baker started sexually abusing a 12-year-old BTO while his parents were asleep in another room. He ultimately told his mother, an assistant priest in 1978. Forty years later, BTO is overwhelmed to see that someone (the royal commission) cares.

In 1999, Baker was convicted for sexually abusing BTO and seven other boys between 1960 and 1979. Although BTO’s family received $35,000 as compensation from archdiocese’s Melbourne Response scheme, it made him feel dirty.

“The money certainly helped my wife and I at the time, but it just made me feel dirty, like I was a prostitute and being bought off. It felt like hush money,” said BTO.

When Principal Patricia Taylor of St. James Primary School was contacted by senior Catholic education officials and was warned of the school’s new priest Baker, she immediately reported her concerns to regional bishop Peter Connors. Replying to her concerns, Connors had said, “once a paedophile always a paedophile.”

Shockingly, Taylor never heard from the bishop again and Baker was appointed to the parish in a few days. This was revealed on the fifth day of the commission’s probe into church’s handling of paedophile parish priests. Taylor said that the Catholic Education Office told her about the allegations against Baker who was sent to Richmond North parish in mid-1992, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Guardian reveals that in the years Taylor worked with Baker, she took string measures so that her students would never be left alone with Baker.

The hearing in Melbourne continues.

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