Roman Catholic Diocese of Ballarat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Diocese of Ballarat
Dioecesis Ballaratensis
St Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat
Country Australia
Ecclesiastical province Melbourne
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Melbourne
Coordinates 37°34′18″S 143°51′00″E / 37.57167°S 143.85000°E / -37.57167; 143.85000
Area 58,000 km2 (22,000 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2006)
Increase 384,000
Increase 97,900 (Steady 25.2%)
Parishes Steady 52
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established 30 March 1874
Cathedral St Patrick's Cathedral
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Paul Bird CSsR
Metropolitan Archbishop Denis Hart
Emeritus Bishops Peter Connors
Catholic Diocese of Ballarat

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ballarat, based in Ballarat, Australia, is a diocese in the ecclesiastical province of Melbourne. It is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and was established in 1874. Its geography covers the west, Wimmera and Mallee regions of Victoria. The cathedra is in St Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat.


The Diocese of Ballarat was established on 30 March 1874, from the Diocese of Melbourne. At the same time, the Diocese of Melbourne was made an archdiocese while Ballarat became one of its suffragans.

Bishop Peter Connors retired as Bishop of Ballarat on 1 August 2012 and Father Paul Bird CSsR was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed him.[1] He was ordained bishop on 16 October 2012. Bishop Paul Bird (born 17 July 1949) is a member of the missionary Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorist).[2]


The following individuals were elected as Roman Catholic Bishop of Ballarat:[3]

Order Name Date enthroned Reign ended Term of office Reason for term end
1 Michael O'Connor 24 April 1874 14 February 1883 8 years, 296 days Died in office
2 James Moore 12 January 1884 26 June 1904 20 years, 166 days Died in office
3 Joseph Higgins 3 March 1905 16 September 1915 10 years, 197 days Died in office
4 Daniel Foley 12 April 1916 31 October 1941 25 years, 202 days Died in office
5 James O'Collins 23 December 1941 1 May 1971 29 years, 129 days Retired at age 79. Bishop Emeritus of Ballarat. Died 25 November 1983[4]
6 Ronald Mulkearns 1 May 1971 30 May 1997 26 years, 29 days Resigned. Bishop Emeritus of Ballarat. Died 4 April 2016[5]
7 Peter Connors 30 May 1997 1 August 2012 15 years, 63 days Retired at age 75. Bishop Emeritus of Ballarat[6]
8 Paul Bird 1 August 2012 4 years, 237 days

Other information[edit]

The diocese is bounded by the South Australian border (the Archdiocese of Adelaide and the Diocese of Port Pirie), the Murray River (the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes) and the Southern Ocean. To the east is the Diocese of Sandhurst and the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The diocese has 52 parishes, 39 clergy and four parish leaders. The seat of the diocese is St Patrick's Cathedral, Ballarat.

Child sexual abuse scandal controversies[edit]

The Diocese of Ballarat has been part of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, which are a series of convictions, trials and ongoing investigations into allegations of sex crimes committed by Catholic priests and members of religious orders.[7] In 2012 the Parliament of Victoria established the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations. The Inquiry tabled its response to Parliament on 13 November 2013 and the Government tabled its response to the Inquiry's recommendations on 8 May 2014.[8]

The systemic problem of sexual abuse was highlighted in the Victoria's Police Submission into the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by churches:[9]

"Confidential police reports detail the suicides of at least 40 people sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Victoria and say it appeared the church knew about a shockingly high rate of suicides and premature deaths but had chosen to remain silent.[10]

Cardinal George Pell also confirmed in the Victorian parliamentary inquiry that "some members of the Church tried to cover up child sexual abuse by other members of the clergy" as the ABC states.[11]

There have been 130 claims and substantiated complaints of child sexual abuse against the Ballarat diocese since 1980. At least 14 priests of the Diocese of Ballarat have been the subject of one or more claims and substantiated complaints of child sex abuse.[12]

In May 2015 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, a royal commission of inquiry initiated in 2013 by the Australian Government and supported by all of its state governments,[13] began an investigation into the response of relevant Catholic Church authorities to the impact of child sexual abuse on survivors of child sexual abuse, their families and the community of Ballarat.[14] The hearing heard from residents, former students of St Joseph's Home, Ballarat; St Alipius Primary School, Ballarat East; St Alipius Parish, Ballarat East; St Patrick's College, Ballarat; St Patrick's Christian Brothers Boys Primary School, Ballarat; and members of the Ballarat community about the impact of child sexual abuse on the community of Ballarat. Catholic clergy who were convicted of child sexual offences which took place within the geographical bounds of the Diocese of Ballarat also were invited to speak or make statements before the commission.[15]

Notable sexual abuse cases include:

  • Gerald Ridsdale, who pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a total of 53 children [16] and is facing further charges.[17] Ridsdale's nephew, David Ridsdale, gave evidence before the commission that his uncle had sexually abused him from the age of 11 to 15. The commission is continuing.[18][19]
  • Robert Charles Best, a Christian Brother, was sentenced in the Victorian County Court for 27 offences involving the sexual abuse of 11 boys.[20][21]
  • Stephen Frances Farrell, a Christian Brother, was sentenced in 2013 for indecently assaulting a boy while teaching at St Alipius School in Ballarat in the mid 1970s. This conviction followed a 1997 conviction on nine charges of indecently assaulting two brothers at St Alipius around the same period.[22]
  • Paul David Ryan jailed in 2006 for 18 months after admitting three charges of indecent assault against one victim between 1990 and 1991.[23]
  • Sydney Morey[24]
  • Terrence Pidoto[24]
  • Bryan Coffey[25]
  • Leslie Sheahan[26]
  • Robert Claffey[27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Catholic hierarchy - Bishop Paul Bernard Bird, C.SS.R.
  3. ^ "Diocese of Ballarat". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 21 May 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Catholic hierarchy - Bishop James Patrick O'Collins
  5. ^ Catholic hierarchy - Bishop Ronald Austin Mulkearns
  6. ^ Catholic hierarchy - Bishop Peter Joseph Connors
  7. ^ "Child abuse scandals faced by Roman Catholic Church". The Telegraph. United Kingdom. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Report and Response". Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations. Parliament of Victoria. 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Letters Patent". Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "Case Study 28, May 2015, Ballarat". Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Witness List and Possible Order of Witnesses". Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat: Case study 28. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Former priest pleads guilty to child abuse". ABC News. Australia. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2011. ; J. Franklin, Gerald Ridsdale, pedophile priest, in his own words, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 36 (2105), 219-230.
  17. ^ Herald Sun, 21 June 2013, "Victorian man Gerald Francis Ridsdale charged with 72 sex offences dating back to 1961".
  18. ^ Donovan, Samantha (20 May 2015). "Royal Commission hears Cardinal Pell offered victim bribe to keep clerical sex abuse quiet". PM. ABC Local Radio. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Lee, Jane (20 May 2015). "Royal commission told Cardinal George Pell tried to buy victim's silence about abuse". The Age. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Lowe, Adrian (8 August 2011). "Damage and misery: 14 years' jail for Christian Brother". The Age. Australia. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  21. ^ Cresswell, Joe (20 September 2011). "Pedophile Christian Brother Robert Best's appeal an insult-victims". The Australian. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^

External links[edit]