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Archdiocesan priest in court hearing

Fr Neil Byrne, a priest of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, today was convicted in the District Court on counts of making and possession of child pornography material.

Fr Byrne was sentenced to nine months in prison, to be wholly suspended.

None of the charges involved direct contact between Fr Byrne or any children.

At the time of his first appearance in court on May 30, 2011, Fr Byrne was stood down from all public priestly duties pending the outcome of the legal proceedings.

Upon Fr Byrne’s conviction, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese, Most Rev Geoffrey Jarrett, has formally revoked the authorisations Fr Byrne needs to minister publicly or privately.

In accordance with Church law, Bishop Jarrett will refer the case to the Congregation in Rome responsible for these matters. He will follow the directions received about how to proceed.

Bishop Jarrett said the Archdiocese is deeply saddened by this crime, which is completely counter to church teachings and beliefs.

“The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors.”

“We must continue to maintain our vigilance as a Church and society to ensure the protection and wellbeing of children everywhere,” he said.

The parishes where Fr Byrne had previously ministered in recent times were informed of the allegations against Fr Byrne when he was charged last year.

Bishop Jarrett apologises to these communities for any confusion and anger experienced as a result of the actions of Fr Byrne. He offered his prayers, thoughts and any support that is needed to all concerned.
Released by the Catholic Communications Office

March 7, 2012

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