Antony Whitlam, a former federal judge, called the conduct of the then-bishop of Armidale, Henry Joseph Kennedy, "utterly inexplicable," the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. In a 60-page report, Whitlam said reports about the priest, identified only as Father F., were made to church officials in New South Wales but no action was taken.
Father F. functioned as a priest in New South Wales in the 1980s and 1990s. He allegedly began his career by molesting altar boys in Moree.
Bishop Michael Kennedy, who currently heads the Armidale diocese, issued a statement saying he was "shocked, horrified and profoundly disappointed" by the church's failure to investigate Father F. Kennedy is not related to his predecessor.
"This is a cause of deep shame for the church. I offer victims and their families my deepest heartfelt and unequivocal apology," he said. "One of my predecessors failed, in this instance, in his duty of governance to the diocese and more importantly in his duty of the pastoral care of its people."