Warrnambool's St Joseph's Primary School council decides to delete Bishop Mulkearns' name from plaque

​THE name of the former bishop of Ballarat will be removed from a plaque at Warrnambool's largest catholic primary school out of respect for victims of clerical sexual abuse.

In its weekly newsletter, St Josephs Primary School announced the move after a victim of abuse requested action in relation to plaques on churches and schools two months ago.

The victim became emotional on Tuesday when told of the move.

"I know to many people this will seem a very small thing but the school's decision recognises the wrongs of the past," the tearful victim said.

"We are not trying to rewrite history, just to acknowledge what has happened.”

Th newsletter said that in response to the school community’s concerns, the school advisory council had recommended to Father John Fitzgerald to remove the name Mulkearns from the school commemorative plaque.

"The school plaque commemorates the school opening here on this site in 1985,” the newsletter said. 

"Our school council's view was to importantly maintain the recorded historical fact of the opening celebration but to respect the victims of clerical abuse, identified via the Royal Commission, by removing the name. 

"Father John has accepted this SAC recommendation.”

The moves comes in line with some other schools and churches in the Ballarat diocese, which covers south-west Victoria. 

A plaque at Warrnambool's St Pius X Church was also removed, while Mortlake's St Colman's Primary School also took down a similar plaque.

Ballarat's St Patrick's College has also had a black line drawn through the names of disgraced members of the clergy on its honour boards.

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns was the bishop of th​e​ Ballarat diocese while sexual abuse was committed by a number of members of the clergy including notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.

Ridsdale told a family member his victims numbered in the hundreds. 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Response into Child Sex Abuse has found the Ballarat diocese was one of th​e​ worst ​impacted in Australia with almost 10 per cent of clergy members involved in abuse.

Bishop Mulkearns knew about Ridsdale’s offending in 1975 but moved him when complaints were made, therefore allowing the priest to continue offending.

Ridsdale served in Warrnambool, Mortlake, Edenhope, Timboon and Apollo Bay.

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