Edmund Gleeson was Bishop of the Maitland/Newcastle Diocese until 1956.
He held an influential position in the church.
A position of esteem, trust and power.
Outside the knowledge of his followers, Gleeson accepted paedophile priests into his diocese with open arms. He knowingly put families and local children at risk.
His decision to protect these paedophiles from the authorities lead to the abuse of at least two young girls in his church.
He enabled the criminal behaviour of evil, disturbed men to continue unabated.
Gleeson had originally been a member of the Redemptorist Order, a group of Catholic Church brothers and priests who aim to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the community.
In 1949, the Redemptorist Order of Ireland contacted Gleeson regarding a “difficult” student priest. The Order asked if Gleeson would take their student and teach him in Maitland.
Gleeson was warned the new priest had a temper and was “hard to get on with in ordinary life.”
Bishop Edmund Gleeson agreed to take on the Irish student and then, opened his arms to paedophile priest Father Denis McAlinden.
McAlinden served in Singleton, Muswellbrook, Murrurundi and Greta parishes in the Maitland/Newcastle Diocese.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, rumours spread through pockets of the community about McAlinden’s predilection for small girls and at one stage, it is said he raped a child and intimidated her into keeping quiet.
McAlinden was sent to Papua New Guinea where he continued to abuse children under his power. In 1974, he returned to become a parish priest in Maitland, only to be stood down two years later by Bishop Leo Clarke.
Monsignor Patrick Cotter wrote to Clarke regarding McAlinden’s behaviour. Broken Rites has kept this letter for historical purposes.
“Father Mac has an inclination to interfere… with young girls, aged perhaps 7 to 12 or so,” Cotter wrote.
“I had a long session with Father Mac at the presbytery. Slowly, very slowly, he admitted some indiscretions but then agreed that it was a condition that had been with him for many years.”
The response of Bishop Clarke was genuinely unfathomable.
Instead of reporting this paedophile priest to police – Clarke opted to cover up the crimes and chose to transfer McAlinden to Western Australia – out of sight, out of mind – where he unsurprisingly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl named Susan.
In 1991, Susan turned nineteen and signed a sworn statement against McAlinden. Another witness and victim, Maria, came forward too.
Multiple families have come forward since claiming McAlinden abused their children.
Bishop Edmund Gleeson’s negligence was the catalyst which started decades of suffering, sadness and fallout.
Allowing the Redemptorist Order to send McAlinden – knowing his bad temper and preference for young girls – was an act of paedophile enabling.
We can’t let this kind of behaviour continue.
The time to act is now.
Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme.
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