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Australia. Christopher Saunders, retired bishop, accused of child sex crimes

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Retired bishop Christopher Saunders has appeared in an Australian court on allegations of child sex offences. They allegedly took place between 2008 and 2014. The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, said the Church would cooperate with the police in the case. In a statement to the press, he called the allegations “very serious and deeply disturbing.”

Thursday in court in the western town of Broome Australia retired Roman Catholic bishop, 74-year-old Christopher Saunders. He is accused of sexual crimes against children, including two rapes. He had been arrested the day before and a judge refused to grant him bail. The media does not report whether Saunders pleaded guilty in court. He had previously denied the allegations, which included a total of 19 offences. They allegedly took place in the west of the country in the cities of Broome, Kununurra and in the settlement of Kalumburu, inhabited mainly by indigenous Aborigines, in the years 2008-2014.

SEE ALSO: He was considered a hero. A priest convicted of child abuse

Retired bishop on trial

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The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, said the church would continue to cooperate with police on the matter. In a statement to the press, he called the allegations against the former bishop of the Diocese of Broome “very serious and deeply disturbing.” ā€œIt is right and proper and, of course, necessary to thoroughly investigate all allegations made,ā€ he added.

Retired Roman Catholic bishop Christopher Saunders has been charged with 19 counts of sexual offenses against children. Reuters

Saunders was ordained a priest in 1976 and became a bishop in 1995. As described by the BBC, he spent most of his career in the diocese located in the remote Kimberley region. During this time, he became an influential figure in the local community – attending social gatherings, going on camping and fishing trips with young boys, and even having a beer named after him.

Saunders stepped down as diocesan bishop in 2020 when allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced, although a police investigation did not produce sufficient evidence to bring charges at the time. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Broome in 2021, and the following year Vatican launched its own investigation into the retired hierarch.

SEE ALSO: A landmark judgment of the Vatican court. Priest convicted of molestation

Main photo source: Reuters



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