In memory of Father Maurie Crocker, a brave priest who exposed child abuse in Australia

In 1998 Broken Rites received news of the tragic death of Father Maurie Crocker, a priest at St Mary's Catholic Church, Berkeley, in the Wollongong diocese, New South Wales.

Maurie Crocker was ordained at the age of 42, after a civilian life which saw him as a lay teacher in New Zealand, a professional boxer and then a career soldier. In Wollongong in 1993 Father Crocker accompanied by another priest, went to see Peter Cullen who was then the editor-in-chief of the local daily Illawarra Mercury. Father Crocker informed Cullen of statements by three young men that they had been molested over some years by a local Christian Brother and a priest. For years, Father Crocker had run a boxing school and gym in the parish and had cared for many young men with histories of family dislocation.

A detailed and courageous investigation by the Illawarra Mercury substantiated the allegations, and the paper exposed a serious problem within the Catholic Church in the Wollongong Diocese. Father Crocker's bravery and the newspaper's vigorous exposure of the two paedophiles also contributed in a major way to the expansion of Justice Wood's Royal Commission in New South Wales on corruption which was later to expose extensive paedophile activity in the Wollongong area.

Following the news of father Crocker's death, the following letter was published in the Illawarra Mercury on behalf of Broken Rites.

"Members of Broken Rites were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic and premature death of Father Maurie Crocker. The sense of loss within the Berkeley community will be profound and long lasting.

"Father Crocker was respected and admired by people in many parts of Australia for his spirit and his preparedness to confront higher authorities within the Catholic Church about the issue of sexual abuse by some local clergy and religious. In this same spirit, Broken Rites will continue to advocate on behalf of victims who are now seeking justice from the same church authorities in various States.

"Father Crocker's experiences after 1989, when he first became aware of the past experiences of several young men who had confided in him, are prophetically captured in a statement given before the Papal Delegate at the Valladolid Inquiry in 16th century Spain by Frere Bartholome de las Casas:

'When truth goes forward it is often fragile and alone; falsehood on the other hand can have many helpers .' "

WAYNE CHAMLEY
for Broken Rites (Australia).

 

  • FOOTNOTE: For more about the convicted paedophile priest Father Peter Lewis Comensoli (who was exposed by Fr Maurie Crocker), see another Broken Rites article HERE.