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Australian Politicians/ Contacts
Paedophile priest James Fletcher was buried with honours
THE Catholic church honoured a paedophile priest - who died in jail - with a marble headstone
which listed his achievements.
James Patrick Fletcher's victims yesterday said the burial in the priests' section of Sandgate
Cemetery near Newcastle was the "final insult".
A brass plaque records the deviant's career as a priest. In death he kept his title of Reverend Father.
A court found the 65-year-old had committed "a gross and inexcusable breach of trust" when he raped an
altar boy, a crime for which he was sentenced to almost eight years prison, where he died in 2006.
One victim, Peter Gogarty, yesterday said he was "distressed" Fletcher retained his title in death and
was buried in the priests' section.
"How can this man, a convicted paedophile, die and be buried in the priests' section of the cemetery?
Fletcher should never have been buried as a priest," he said.
"That was the ultimate insult to Fletcher's victims."
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church said some people under the Code of Canon Law "should be deprived
of ecclesiastical funerals ... such as heretics and apostates and also those who are held to be manifest sinners.
"Nevertheless, canon law commentators indicate that the presumption is in favour of giving someone a
funeral and if a person considered to have been a manifest sinner were to have given some sign of
repentance before death they are not to be denied a funeral."
The Daily Telegraph (15-11-2-12)
Bishop Apologies Over Abuse
A New South Wales Catholic bishop has apologised to
the victims of a priest who was today convicted of
child sex abuse.
Bishop Michael Malone said an East Maitland court
James Fletcher guilty of nine charges
relating to sexual abuse with a minor.
"As bishop of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, I
apologise profoundly to the victims, who cannot
be named, and the victims' family and friends for
the immense pain and suffering caused by Father
Fletcher's criminal actions," he said in a statement.
"Sexual abuse is a serious crime and cannot be
"Because of these criminal actions, Father Fletcher
will not return to the ministry."
Bishop Malone said a toll-free number had been set
up so people could discuss their feelings with trained
Those who wanted help or information in relation to
abuse could contact the police or the church's
Towards Healing process, he said.
Father Fletcher, who is in his early 60s and used
to work in Branxton parish, was yet to be sentenced
and there was another matter yet to go before court, he said.
Priest On sex Charges Named
THE Herald can now name
Branxton Catholic priest
Father James Fletcher
as being charged with eight
countsof having sex and one
of committing an indecent act
with a teenage boy.
The dates and places of
the allegations can be published.
In East Maitland District
Court, Judge Megan Latham
yesterday lifted a non-
publication order that had
applied since February.
The alleged victim, now an
adult, cannot be identified.
Father Fletcher, 62, has
pleaded not guilty to all
charges and a trial is scheduled to begin in November.
Father Fletcher is on leave
- from his parish.
Barrister David Sibtain
made the successful application to lift the non-
publication order on behalf of
The Herald (Newcastle Newspapers), the Australian
and the Nine (television) Network.
Mr Sibtain argued that suppressing Father Fletcher's
name was beyond local and
district court power and even
if the power existed there was
no legal basis for such an
Mr Sibtain's application
said that there was no legal
basis for preventing publication of the dates and places
of the alleged offences.
There was no opposition
from Father Fletchers legal
Father Fletcher is charged
with committing an act of
indecency with a boy between
December 15, 1988, and the
end of January 1990.
He is charged with having
sexual intercourse with the
boy eight times between April
1990 and the end of November
It is alleged that the
offences took place at six
Hunter Valley sites.
To help protect the alleged
victim's identity, The Herald
has chosen not to name the
The Herald named Father
Fletcher in May 2003 when he
initially faced Maitland Local
Court and a non-publication
order covered only the
alleged victim, places and
times of the offences.
Father Fletcher did not
enter a plea at that stage and
was granted bail on condition
he have no contact with children younger than 16 without
The suppression was
extended in Newcastle Local
Court in February and confirmed in the district court the
The Herald (1-10-2004)
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