The scandal extends to many hundreds of known cases and has revealed a sorry history of denial, cover-up and connivance of Church leaders in hiding the perpetrators to avoid embarrassment.
And, as revealed late last week in NSW, there Church has even failed to fully cooperate with police inquiries, perhaps up the level of Archbishop.
Church authorities may have even conspired with misguided police officers to thwart investigations into these heinous crimes.
There have been calls for an Australia-wide Royal Commission to investigate this issue, and there are already special commissions underway in Victoria and NSW.
So what has this got to do with Papua New Guinea?
What is less well known is that a surprising number of already convicted paedophile priests have a background of service in PNG.
In fact the extent of this might lead the cynical to suggest that PNG almost acted as a training-ground for priestly child molesters, and sometimes a convenient dumping ground for the Church to send accused priests. Out of sight, out of mind.
This matter needs to be brought into the open as a public service to the people of PNG, and it needs to be investigated further as a protection for children and young people who may still well be at risk.
If you have any direct experience of such activity, you should first go to the police – not the Church.
Also, of course, people are entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by proper legal process.
I provide here a summary of just a few of the priests with a PNG connection who have been convicted of child abuse.
The list was compiled by the Australian victims support organisation Broken Rites.
Edmund John Haines, committed child-sex crimes but he was caught when someone found child porn on the priest's mobile phone, a court has been told. Known by his middle name (as John Haines), he grew up in Geelong, 75km south-west of Melbourne, Australia. John Haines entered the Catholic priesthood via a "backdoor" opportunity in Papua New Guinea, where priests were scarce.
He later left PNG under mysterious circumstances and returned to Australia without clear career prospects. Then the Melbourne archdiocese, which was short of priests, accepted him for parish work in its Geelong parishes, thereby giving him access to children. The Melbourne church authorities did not look too closely into (or did not care about) Haines' background. Haines pleaded guilty in the Geelong County Court in the state of Victoria to six counts of an indecent act with a child under 16, procurement of a minor for child pornography and possessing child porn.
Father Denis McAlinden was protected for 40 years by the Church while he committed sexual crimes against young girls in parishes around Australia and also overseas. For years, the Maitland-Newcastle diocese had been transferring McAlinden backwards and forwards between New South Wales and Western Australia after he abused children in each of those states.
The Maitland-Newcastle diocese also arranged for him to be "warehoused" in Papua New Guinea for several years, in the middle of his career. (He was based in Mendi diocese for 4 years.) The Church also arranged for him to spend a year doing parish work in New Zealand to protect him from exposure in Australia.
Brother Rodger William Moloney was jailed in 2008 after the St John of God order to which he belonged spent over $1,000,000 on his defence. Moloney spent some time at SJOG’s operations in Papua New Guinea. He has been a member of the SJOG provincial council (administering the order’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific).
Marist Brother Malcolm Hall was charged with multiple sex crimes against boys and girls in 1998. But before the case came to trial he collapsed and died. When the first allegation against Hall were made the Marist Brothers transferred Brother Malcolm out of Australia — beyond the reach of the Australian police.
Thereafter (according to details given in his death notice in the Herald Sun) Brother Hall worked in church institutions in Peshawar (in Pakistan) and in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands — places where sexual abuse by church personnel is more difficult to expose. There is no way of knowing about his behaviour in those countries. Thus, the Marist Brothers protected their brand name in Australia.