Father Paul Gardiner, image from the Blessed Mary MacKillop website
Father Paul Gardiner, who spent 25 years lobbying for Mary MacKillop's canonisation, has rejected recent media reports that he linked her excommunication to her reporting child abuse by a clergyman.
Both Father Gardiner and ABC TV's Compass program's executive producer deny making an inference in a new documentary that Mother MacKillop's ousting from the church in 1871 was prompted by her exposure of a Kapunda priest's abuse of local children - as reported by ABC Online and Fairfax.
"Early in 1870, the scandal occurred and the Sisters of Saint Joseph reported it to Father Tenison Woods, but Mary was in Queensland and no-one was worried about her," Father Gardiner told The Australian.
Father Gardiner, considered the nation's foremost authority on the history of MacKillop, said his words had been twisted to suit the "ill will" of media outlets.
"There was a long chain of causation. Somehow or other, somebody typed it up as if to say I said Mary MacKillop was the one to report the sex abuse," Father Gardiner said.
"I never said it. It's just false; it's the ill will of people who are anxious to see something negative about the Catholic Church. There's already enough mud to throw, though."
The executive producer of Compass, Rose Hesp, told The Australian that the documentary, which will air on the ABC on Sunday, does not suggest MacKillop was excommunicated because of her role in exposure of the child abuse.
Priest denies making claims about MacKillop's excommunication (The Australian)
Image from marymackillop.org.au