CATHOLIC PRIEST UNDER PROBE IN PNG

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Australian priest jailed for child sex

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, September 3, 2009) – The Archbishop of Port Moresby John Ribat has ordered a committee of Catholic priests to investigate the background of an Australian priest who was jailed for child sex offences and spent time in Papua New Guinea in the past.

According to a report by Broken Rites Australia, the priest Edmund John Haines was ordained as a deacon in PNG by the Port Moresby archdiocese despite having

an allegedly shady background in his previous career as a public servant at the Department of Public Works, the predecessor of the Works Department in the 1970s and 80s.

Broken Rites is an Australian group that helps victims of church related sex abuse.

Fr Michael Igo of Port Moresby Archdiocese yester-day confirmed that Archbishop Ribat was aware of the Broken Rites report.

The archbishop had asked that the matter be referred to a committee of priests to investigate and furnish a report before he could make an official statement on the matter.

Archbishop Ribat is in Mount Hagen and is expected back in the capital city next Monday.

Fr Michael also confirmed that Haines was ordained as a deacon by the Port Moresby Archdiocese.

According to the Broken Rites report, the 62-year-old priest pleaded guilty in the Geelong County Court in the state of Victoria to six counts of indecent

act with a child under 16, procurement of a minor for child pornography and possessing child porn.

In November 2008, he was sentenced to four years and three months jail and listed as a serious sexual offender.

Presiding Judge Geoffrey Chettle ordered that Haines serve a non-parole period of two years six months. The judge ordered that Haines be listed as a serious sexual offender.

The Broken Rites report stated that Haines was a former public servant in PNG in the 1970s and later was ordained a Catholic priest of the Port Moresby archdiocese on June 1, 1980.

"In 1965, after six months of working in the Victorian Public Service, he joined the public service in Papua New Guinea where he worked in the Department of Public Works for some years.

"According to a source in PNG, Haines lived an unconventional lifestyle there, befriending young men," Broken Rites said. In the 1970’s he joined a PNG

Catholic Group, the Sarto Brothers and developed his contacts with senior clergy in Port Moresby. Eventually, when he was aged 30, the Port Moresby archdioceses agreed to sponsor him as a trainee priest at St Paul’s seminary in Sydney.

"One of the archdiocese’s most senior administrators was an Australian who had entered the priesthood via this seminary which specialised in conducting a

short course for mature age entrants to the priesthood."

In February 1977, Haines resigned from the PNG Public Service and entered St Paul’s seminary in Australia.

He was then ordained a deacon in Port Moresby in December 1979 and was ordained a priest of the Port Moresby archdiocese a year later on June 1, 1980.

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