Christopher Saunders has voluntarily stood aside from the ordinary administration of the Broome diocese, a statement from Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe says.
Christopher Saunders has voluntarily stood aside from the ordinary administration of the Broome diocese, a statement from Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe says.

Bishop steps down amid abuse claims

A West Australian Catholic bishop has stood down amid reports he is being investigated for alleged historical sex offences.

Christopher Saunders has voluntarily stood aside from the ordinary administration of the Broome diocese, a statement from Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe says.

The decision had been made due to "the particular situation in the Diocese of Broome and concerned for the pastoral care of the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese", the statement read.

The 70-year-old bishop has reportedly been under investigation since October 2018 after two men made claims of non-consensual acts, according to 7 News.

Saunders denied the claims when confronted by 7 News reporter Chris Reason in Broome.

"Without any doubt whatsoever, without any reservation, that has never happened and it never would happen," he said of the allegations.

The news outlet claims WA Police have interviewed past and present members of Saunders' staff as part of the investigation.

WA Police Force spokesperson said they could not comment on allegations made against specific individuals.

"Any allegations of criminal sexual misconduct will be investigated by WA Police Force as per normal procedures," the spokesperson said.

Saunders has denied the claims.
Saunders has denied the claims.

The Emeritus Bishop of Wollongong, the Most Reverend Peter Ingham, has been appointed the "apostolic visitator" in place of Saunders while Monsignor Paul Boyers will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the diocese

According to the diocese website, he is the second Bishop of Broome, has an interest in Aboriginal issues and oversees the welfare of 10,000 Catholics within a 773,000 square-kilometre area.

With AAP

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

 


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