A priest who was convicted of child sex offences before he was ordained is reportedly working in a leadership role in Western Australia assigned to him by Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey.
The West Australian newspaper said it has learnt that Father Michael Slattery is working in a "lead" role with the Church, which was assigned to him by Archbishop Hickey in mid-2008, before he had finished his penalty for child molestation.
But the paper said Archbishop Hickey disputed that Father Slattery had been given a leadership role. The Archbishop stressed that Fr Slattery did not work with children and had no pastoral duties.
Fr Slattery, was given a suspended 18-month jail term for embracing, kissing and masturbating in front of a 14-year-old girl, whom he had befriended, over about a year, while he worked as a religious teacher at a Sydney girls' school in the early 1980s, the paper reported.
He was made to stand aside from his duties as priest of the Harvey-Brunswick parishes when the allegations came to light, with Bunbury Catholic Diocese Bishop Gerard Holahan saying after the conviction that Father Slattery would no longer be allowed to serve as a priest.
Archbishop Hickey said that Fr Slattery now faced losing his administrative duties if his sex offences attracted publicity.
"Now that his actions, committed well before his ordination, have become public in Perth, I doubt whether he can continue even with administrative duties," he said.
Archbishop Hickey said he had agreed to accommodate and give Father Slattery his role with the Diocesan Centre for Evangelisation "because Bishop Holahan could no longer keep Father Slattery in the Diocese of Bunbury".
Archbishop gives job to sex abuse priest (The West Australian)