Catholic News World
Monday, September 27, 2010
AUSTRALIA: MACKILLOP EXCOMMUNICATED FOR REPORTING ABUSE
Cath News report: Mary MacKillop's excommunication resulted from her reporting child abuse by a priest - against whom disciplinary action was taken, according to a documentary to e shown on the ABC's Compass program. Another grudging priest angered by the incident reportedly worked to throw her out of the church.
Various news media have picked up the information presented in a new ABC 1 documentary, scheduled for airing on Compass on October 10, on the nun's life. An AAP report in Sydney Morning Herald said previous theories surrounding the excommunication have been vague.
In response to the claims, the Sisters of St Joseph said in a statement: "Mary MacKillop's excommunication from the church, for a period of five months from September 1871, is an event that has been comprehensively documented.
"There were several factors that led to this painful period for Mary and the sisters. The reasons for Mary's excommunication have been written about and commented on in the public domain since that time. This is consistent with the information contained in the Compass program."
The ABC's Compass program says Bishop Laurence Sheil ordered the punishment after Mary MacKillop reported child abuse by Father Keating from the Kapunda parish, north of Adelaide, according to the AAP report.
Blessed MacKillop and the Josephite sisters reported the abuse to the vicar-general and disciplinary action was taken against Keating, humiliating him and angering a Father Charles Horan, who was close to Bishop Shiel.
Horan is believed to have harboured a grudge against MacKillop and the whistleblowers in her order, and used his influence over the bishop to manipulate him into throwing the nun out of the church.
Bishop Sheil revoked the punishment on his death bed some five months later, according to official accounts.
According to ABC's AM program on the weekend, Father Paul Gardiner - the man who's led the charge for sainthood - said the excommunication was more "a nasty footnote".
"It's a sort of a footnote; it's a nasty footnote to a heroic story, and I don't think media people should take it as though it's the main story, particularly since they've got a lot of closer, modern scandals occurring in the Catholic Church to concentrate on. Why tarnish the occasion of Mary's canonisation with this miserable bit of scandal."