Pope Benedict has dismissed John Denham, a priest in Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle from 1972-86, from the clerical state following convictions of sexual assaults against children, according to a statement from Bishop William Wright.
John Denham was convicted in July last year of crimes committed between 1968 to 1986. Bishop Wright said he was advised by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on May 20 that Denham has been dismissed from the clerical state, upon recommendation of the former Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle bishop.
"My thoughts are with all those affected by these crimes, especially those who have been harmed, their families and loved ones," Bishop Wright said.
"John Denham has not been allowed to practise as a priest for many years. Nevertheless, I pray that the announcement, which may raise the spectre of past pain, also brings some peace.
"As a Diocese, we acknowledge the distress and harm that John Denham's actions have caused. I wish to assure the community of the Diocese's continued commitment to redress past wrongs.
"The Diocese continues to resource and support the present and future protection of children. The Diocesan Child Protection Unit responds to allegations of child abuse by any person associated with the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and provides training and information sessions to local parishes, schools, welfare services and other diocesan groups.
"The Coordinator for Healing and Support is available for people who have been adversely affected by abuse involving persons associated with the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
"Insights is an innovative process which continues to explore the deep effects of historic abuse on the faith communities within the Diocese."
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Media Statement
Pope defrocks paedophile priest John Denham (Newcastle Herald)