Leo Clarke was a Bishop in the Newcastle/Maitland diocese. He was more than just a Bishop.
He helped cover up the crimes of Denis McAlinden and Father Vincent Gerard Ryan. These were two paedophile priests who were operating in the Newcastle and Maitland churches, abusing children and having their abominable actions covered up by their seniors.
Bishop Clarke became bishop in 1976. He walked into a web of lies and conspiracies as the Church swept their paedophile priests under the rug (or shuffled them off to another diocese).
Before he was even elected to Bishop, Clarke was aware McAlinden was a paedophile. His predecessor Monsignor Patrick Cotter had written him a letter, indicating McAlinden had a predilection for touching young girls. Cotter strongly suggested McAlinden wouldn’t move on to assault or rape, ‘… knowing Father Mac, as we do, we think … [the condition] cannot be real serious, nor do we believe that there is any danger of a development into assault or rape’.
Bishop Clarke knew he had a paedophile priest in his diocese, and never reported it to the police.
McAlinden sexually abused children for twenty years, and he got away with it because his seniors allowed it to happen.
It wasn’t until 1993 when victims began to bring their stories to church officials (both in NSW and WA) that Clarke noticed the problem couldn’t be swept under the rug.
He tried retaining Father Brian Lucas (General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, a lawyer, and a member of the Special Issues Resource Group) to help convince McAlinden to resign from the Church.
He knew for over 20 years McAlinden posed a real threat to the children in his (and others’) diocese. He preferred to put innocent children in danger, rather than be the cause of a scandal by reporting McAlinden to the police.
McAlinden died before ever being charged. His victims never saw justice, because men like Clarke and Cotter were too cowardly to bring their evidence to police.
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Image source: CathNews