Catholic Church's secret sex files

Cardinal George Pell during a press conference into the start of a Royal Commission.
Cardinal George Pell during a press conference into the start of a Royal Commission.

THE Australian Catholic Church holds thousands of pages of documents containing the psychosexual profiles of dozens of clergy accused of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults.

The profiles, often sent to bishops, were created as part of the church's little-known 1997-2008 rehabilitation program for those it described as ''sexual boundary violators''.

It is understood none of the clergy treated under the multi-million-dollar Encompass Australasia program run from Wesley Private Hospital in Sydney was referred to police for investigation.

This was despite senior church figures being aware of serious allegations - or, in some cases, admissions - that led to clergy being sent for treatment.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said that although police had received some abuse information from the church, no record of any referral from the Encompass program could be found.

Victoria Police deputy commissioner Graeme Ashton last month told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry that church leaders in Melbourne had not reported any abuse cases to police.

Sources familiar with the Encompass Australasia program told Fairfax Media that offending clergy were quietly ''transitioned'' out of the church, receiving generous payouts, accommodation and university education.

''There were some outrageous situations that would have been very embarrassing for the church had they become public," a source said. "Deals were cut. The whole operation was extremely confidential."

NSW District Court documents show that a former Marist Brother, Ross Murrin, who in 2002 admitted to church leaders that in the 1970s he had sexually abused eight primary schoolboys was sent to Encompass Australasia for six months' treatment. The court heard that many of the victims turned to drugs and alcohol. One died of a drug overdose. After admitting the abuse Murrin was removed from teaching and sent to Rome to work for the church as a translator.

Police did not learn of his crimes until mid-2007. The brother was charged soon after and returned to Australia where he pleaded guilty and received an 18-month jail term.

In another case, a Sydney priest treated by Encompass after he allegedly made a young woman from an ethnic community pregnant was paid to leave the church quietly. His accommodation and tertiary study were fully funded.

The woman and her child were sent back to her home country.

The revelation of the church's wealth of knowledge of the psychosexual make-up of many clergy and its failure to report abuse allegations comes after Australia's most senior Catholic, the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, this week said the church had been the victim of an exaggerated media campaign.

Cardinal Pell was responding to the announcement by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of a royal commission into the abuse of children - a move he supports.

The Encompass Australasia program was established in 1997 and funded by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes to assess and treat male clergy for psychosexual disorders.

It was linked to Catholic Church Insurances Ltd, which provided secretarial support and was represented on the Encompass Australasia board.

The program treated about 1100 people, including hundreds of clergy from Australia and nearby countries, not all of whom were there for the treatment of sexual disorders.

This story Catholic Church's secret sex files first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.