A pedophile priest from New Zealand was transferred to an Australian parish

In the early 1970s, there were complaints that Catholic priest Max Murray was sexually abusing children in New Zealand. Therefore, his superiors sent him to Australia, where he was allowed to minister to parishioners and school children in Sydney, a New Zealand court has been told. Murray later returned to New Zealand, where he was jailed in 2003 for some of his New Zealand crimes. Despite his jailing, Murray's diocese (in Dunedin, NZ) refused to remove his priestly status. Therefore, he is still "reverend".

This raises the question: What did Murray get up to while he was in Australia?

Father Murray was a danger to young males, although he could also experiment with a female.

Magnus William Murray (known as "Max" Murray) was ordained in 1949 in New Zealand, where he belonged to the Dunedin diocese. During the 1950s and '60s, he taught in Dunedin Catholic secondary schools and ministered in parishes. He has admitted that he sexually abused boys during that period.

In the early 1970s, a family complained about Murray sexually abusing their young sons. Dunedin's Bishop John Kavanagh arranged to send Murray to Sydney. Bishop Kavanagh had studied in Rome with Bishop James Carroll, who was one of Sydney's auxiliary bishops under Archbishop Cardinal James Freeman. Thus, Kavanagh and Carroll did this deal about Murray.

Bishop Carroll lived at the Holy Cross parish in Woollahra in Sydney's east. Max Murray moved into the Woollahra presbytery to live with under Carroll's supervision. Carroll, however, was heavily involved in archdicesan affairs and did not have much time for supervising Murray.

Other Sydney clergy were not told about Murray's sexual-abuse record. The Woollahra parish was told that Murray had been "ill" and was coming to Sydney for medical treatment.

Shortly after Murray arrived, he began saying Mass in the Woollahra parish and took on the normal round of pastoral duties. This gave him full access to primary and secondary schools, altar boys and the choir, as well as access to families. His name appeared in the Woollhara parish bulletin as if he was a normal priest of the Sydney archdiocese.

In 1976 Murray was appointed as the Religious Education Co-coordinator at a prestigious girls' boarding school, Kincoppal Rose Bay School, in Sydney's east. During this period, he lived with the Christian Brothers at Waverley College in Sydney's east. He did not survive long in the Rose Bay teaching post.

Murray was keen to return to New Zealand. His old diocese, Dunedin, did not want him back, fearing that his return there would prompt more of his Dunedin victims to come forward.

Murray then secured a placement in New Zealand's Auckland diocese, to which he moved in 1977.

Eventually, Murray's past caught up with him. On 25 September 2003, Murray (then aged 76) was sentenced in Dunedin after pleading guilty committing indecent assaults and indecent acts on four boys between 1962 and 1972. These were not Murray's only victims — these were merely those who spoke to the police.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, it has been alleged that Murray committed sexual and pastoral abuse during his stay in Sydney. However, the Sydney archdiocese claims that Murray's conduct is really a matter for the Dunedin diocese, because Murray officially belonged to Dunedin. The Sydney archdiocese denies that it breached its duty of care in allowing Murray to minister in Sydney. Sydney's attitude is that any Sydney victims of Murray will have to take the matter up with the Dunedin diocese.     

 

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