Senator Nick Xenophon
The priest named by Senator Nick Xenophon over alleged sexual abuse of a fellow cleric has revealed damage to his mental and physical health since the Catholic Church began investigating the allegations in February, reports The Australian.
In a letter handed out to worshippers at his parish on Sunday, the priest described problems with his health and personal welfare.
It is understood he also wrote a personal letter to independent senator Nick Xenophon.
In his open letter to parishioners, he said: "The past year has been very challenging to my emotional and physical health".
"Jesus suffered injustice, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop suffered injustice.
"I am innocent of these allegations and pray daily the truth will eventually be revealed."
"For over 40 years I have served with integrity and honour as a Catholic priest," he wrote to Senator Xenophon, according to a report in The Advertiser. "I am innocent of these allegations which you used parliamentary privilege to name me."
"Despite your attack on my character, the people who know me, whether they be family, parishioners, navy personnel, priests and friends around Australia, know I am incapable of perpetrating the false accusations made against me."
The Australian adds that Traditional Anglican Communion's Archbishop John Hepworth - who has accused the priest of rape nearly 50 years ago - has issued an ultimatum to the Archdiocese of Adelaide to process the allegations under the same system used in Melbourne by the end of this week or he will pursue a police investigation in to his claims.
The church yesterday said it had encouraged Archbishop Hepworth to go to the police "for a significant period of time".
While Archbishop Hepworth said he had spoken with police on Friday, he said his preference was still to have the allegations dealt with by the church.
"I just needed to tell the story of why I ran away from the church," Archbishop Hepworth said.
"Nobody from the church has been in touch with me since the story first appeared in The Australian last Saturday, not even through a third party.
"I fear that we are passing each other like ships in the night."
In a speech to the Hawke Centre on Monday, South Australian Premier Mike Rann continued his attack against the "cowardly, personality politics" that prompted Monsignor David Cappo to step down from his role as chairman of the Mental Health Commission one week after he had accepted the job.
Last week, Senator Xenophon called for a federal investigation into his appointment after it was revealed Monsignor Cappo was first told of the alleged rape four years ago.
According to an AAP report in the Herald Sun, Labor Senator Ursula Stephens has criticised Senator Xenophon for using parliamentary privilege to name the priest.
She accused Senator Xenophon of acting "irresponsibly" and abusing the principles behind parliamentary privilege.
"Senator Xenophon knew that to make the allegation could possibly destroy the priest's life," she told the chamber.
"It is not our place, in this place to act as judge and jury."
"Where is the justice in naming him before any due legal processes have been undertaken?
"The senator cannot be sure that the statements reflecting adversely on the priest he named are soundly based, when the matter has not been investigated by the police or the courts."
Accused priest tells of his own distress (The Australian)
(Priest) fires back at Senator Nick Xenophon (AdelaideNow/The Advertiser)
Labor senator attacks Xenophon over priest (Herald Sun/AAP)
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