Vatican considering report into ‘very serious’ allegations against former Broome bishop Christopher Saunders, church says
The Catholic archbishop of Perth says “very serious and deeply distressing” allegations against a former bishop are now being examined by the Vatican after an investigation by the church.
In a statement, the archbishop, Timothy Costelloe, said the investigation into “several serious allegations” involving the former bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders began after Western Australian police concluded its own inquiries. Costelloe did not detail the nature of the allegations.
He said Saunders, who is now in his 70s, has denied the allegations. Saunders has not been charged by WA police.
Saunders resigned in 2020 after sexual misconduct and bullying claims emerged, having been a priest and bishop for more than 40 years.
Costelloe, who is also president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said it was proper for the allegations to be thoroughly investigated.
He said the church’s investigation was overseen by the Brisbane archbishop, Mark Coleridge, and entrusted to an experienced and independent specialist investigations organisation.
The report was provided to the Holy See, “with the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith continuing the investigation”, Costelloe said.
“We will respect the enduring confidential nature of this process by not commenting on specific allegations that have been raised,” he said.
“In due time, the Holy See will make its determinations. It is hoped that this will not be unduly delayed.”
Costelloe said that only after “a just and authoritative finding” had been made could the process of rebuilding the church community in Broome under the leadership of the bishop Michael Morrissey continue to make progress and bring healing.