Author Archives: Kieran Tapsell

Kieran Tapsell

About Kieran Tapsell

Kieran Tapsell is a retired civil lawyer, author and translator.

KIERAN TAPSELL. Pope Francis Abolishes the Pontifical Secret Over Child Sexual Abuse.

On 17 December 2019, Pope Francis abolished the pontifical secret over child sexual abuse by clergy. This was the first step in returning the Catholic Church to its 15 century old tradition, which it abandoned in 1917, of regarding child … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 11 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL: Has the Pontifical Secret Been Secretly Buried?

After the criticisms of the pontifical secret at the February summit conference in Rome on child sexual abuse, it was widely expected that it would be abolished. It never happened, but recent announcements by two bishops’ conferences suggest that it … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL: Pope Francis and the Closed Door Syndrome

For all his good points, Pope Francis has a credibility problem over child sexual abuse. Public statements are made, but once the door is closed, the paper that comes out contradicts what has been said. His latest Apostolic Letter, Vos … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. Anzac Day and apologies for the sins of the past.

Apologies for the sins of the past have always created controversy.  If it is accepted that nations are entitled to glory in the great achievements of their individual members, then it is also appropriate that they regret what other members … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. The Australian Church Response to the Royal Commission Final Report on the Pontifical Secret.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in its response to the Royal Commission’s Final Report has claimed that the pontifical secret does not inhibit bishops from reporting all allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy to the civil authorities. In view … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 3 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. Accountability, Clericalism and Culture in the Catholic Church

Pope Francis has little chance of overcoming clericalism and the toxic culture of cover up in the Catholic Church unless he changes those parts of canon law which are dripping with it.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. The ball is in Pope Francis’s court over the culture of cover-up.

Pope Francis’ letter to the people of Chile over child sexual abuse in that country and its cover-up would suggest that he might have read the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Instead … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. “Catastrophic institutional failure” can be fixed.

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse spent five years interviewing over 8,000 survivors, their abusers and personnel from institutions that had covered up the abuse. The Commission found that 61.8% of all survivors within religious … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 6 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. Secrets and the Royal Commission’s final report.

Media attention has been drawn to the recommendation in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that religious confession should not be exempted from civil law requirements to report child sexual abuse. However, … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 5 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. The Royal Commission Report on the Melbourne Archdiocese

On 5 December 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released a redacted version of its Report of Case Study No. 35: the Archdiocese of Melbourne. It strongly criticized Church personnel for failure to protect children … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | 2 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. University report lifts the lid on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

Researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne have produced a landmark report on the systemic reasons for child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | 1 Comment

KIERAN TAPSELL. Sex Abuse and the Seal of the Confessional

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just released its Criminal Justice Report in which it deals with many matters  relating to the way child sexual abuse within institutions is handled by the Australian criminal … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. A Different Scorecard on Pope Francis

Pope Francis has rightly been acclaimed for his stand on climate change, poverty, inequality and refugees, but on these issues he can only encourage others to act. When it comes to the role of the laity in Church governance and … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 16 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. ‘The Attachment’ by Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty.

The subtitle to this book is Letters from a Most Unlikely Friendship, and it consists of a series of letters with some occasional background comment between a “lapsed” Catholic (although none of the authors use that word) turned “agnostic with … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. The Royal Commission, Religious Liberty and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

A more difficult issue is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ practice of “shunning” those who decide to leave the organisation as adults because of sexual abuse. It may be that the Commission is left with no other alternative but to condemn it … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. A Response to Francis Sullivan

I agree with what Francis Sullivan has said in the edited version of his speech to Catalyst for Renewal. But there is a recitation of history in the full version that cannot go unchallenged.  

Posted in Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. Vatican Reform on Child Sexual Abuse in Disarray – Does Pope Francis get it?

Zero tolerance in a professional context almost invariably means dismissal, but Pope Francis’s claim that the Church has a “zero tolerance” policy is not borne out by the figures he presented to the United Nations: only one quarter of all … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

KIERAN TAPSELL. The Royal Commission and Religious Liberty

  Three law professors, Michael Quinlan and Keith Thompson (Notre Dame) and Frank Brennan (ACU) have criticized any attempt by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to discuss the doctrines and canon law of the Catholic … Continue reading

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Kieran Tapsell. Cardinal Barbarin and accountability.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon is currently being investigated by French police for failing to report sexual offences against children by some of his priests. It is alleged that he knew about allegations against them in 2007 and 2009. Despite his … Continue reading

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Kieran Tapsell. Bishop Ronald Mulkearns: Blaming the Foot Soldier

The “Nuremberg defence” takes its name from the claim by Nazi officials at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal that they should be acquitted because they were following “superior orders”. In one of the most significant judgments in international law, the … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Kieran Tapsell. Cardinal Pell and the Church’s “Omerta”

Cardinal George Pell must now be regretting not having come back to Australia to give his evidence to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the relatively small town of Ballarat in the State of … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Kieran Tapsell. Pope Francis Continues the Policy of Cover Up

In May 2014, my book, Potiphar’s Wife: The Vatican Secret and Child Sexual Abuse was published. It accused six popes from 1922 onwards (Pius XI – Benedict XVI) of establishing, confirming and expanding a system of cover up of child … Continue reading

Posted in Media, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Kieran Tapsell. Finnigan’s Wake

When Dorothy Parker was told that President Calvin Coolidge had just died, she remarked: “How can they tell?” I was reminded of this while watching the moribund memory of Bishop Brian Finnigan when giving evidence to the Royal Commission into … Continue reading

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Kieran Tapsell. The Royal Commission – Damning with faint understatement.

The reports issued by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at times seem quietly understated. The Commission seems to invite readers to draw their own conclusions – damning or otherwise – from the facts the … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Politics, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kieran Tapsell. Keeping the Australian people in the dark.

On 22 April 2013, Francis Sullivan, the CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council (“TJHC”) that represents the Australian Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said: “The Australian community has been kept … Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Kieran Tapsell. A Clash between Church and State in Australia?

The recent appearance by retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson at the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has raised the possibility of a clash between Australia and the Vatican along similar lines to what occurred in Ireland … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Kieran Tapsell: Mental Reservation at the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission

Current Affairs On 28 May 2015, the convicted serial paedophile and former Catholic priest from Ballarat, Gerald Ridsdale gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by video link from prison. Ridsdale is 81 years … Continue reading

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Kieran Tapsell: The Problem with Bishop Finn

On 21 April 2015, the Vatican announced that Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas, Missouri, had resigned. The announcement referred to the Code of Canon Law that states that a bishop who “has become less able to fulfil his office because … Continue reading

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Kieran Tapsell: The Seventh Pope to Require the Cover up of Child Sexual Abuse?

In 2010, Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would instruct bishops to report allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children where there was a local civil law requiring it. The … Continue reading

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Kieran Tapsell. Two reports from the Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse published two reports on 19 December 2014. The first related to Case No. 11 dealing with four institutions run by the Christian Brothers Congregation in Western Australia from the 1920s … Continue reading

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