Community reacts to Father Brian review

Archbishop of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese Christopher Prowse

Last week the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese released their review of the decision to place former Tumut parish priest Father Brian Hassett next to a Canberra primary school, after he was removed from Tumut following allegations of inappropriate behaviour around children.

Parish leader Patricia Mangelsdorf said she hopes the review restores trust in the Archbishop.

“In terms of transparency I think it was really good,” she said.

“It shows that the church and the Archdiocese as a whole is wanting to be transparent in dealing with these matters and making whatever is available, available, to the people that it affects.”

The review was released in its 53-page entirety online, and can be downloaded at

Ms Mangelsdorf said she believes the release of the review marks the end of the Father Brian saga amongst the parish, and that they would, for the most part, be satisfied with its contents.

“I think if there was another instance of something similar coming up things would be done a different way,” she said.

“But I think [the parish] would be pleased that the report that the Archbishop said he was going to commission actually did come out to everyone. While it’s not glowing, I think it’s probably clarified some things for some people – and the Archbishop has done what he said he would do, and I think that’s a good step in terms of keeping to his word.

“In terms of clearing up the process I think it’s been a good move to have it made public. If people want to read the whole thing then they can do so.”

However, Trina Thomson, who spoke strongly against the decision to move Father Brian away from Tumut in a public meeting between the parish and the Archbishop in March, said that the review does nothing to address Father Brian being moved to Canberra in the first place, which is what some in the Tumut community believe is needed.

“How sad that a leader of the Catholic Church in this Archdiocese, being Archbishop Prowse, has been exposed for deliberately misleading all communities and continues to do so in order to cover up the initial lies and relentless persecution of Father Brian,” she said.

“What is offensive to the majority of people, is the Archbishop’s insinuation that Father Brian was a sexual predator and a possible risk to children. To my knowledge Father Brian has never been charged, let alone convicted of charges, other than acknowledging the stated ‘boundary violation’.

“It also disgusts me that the Archbishop has issued an apology to the parents of the Primary school in Canberra. For what? Lying in the first place, misleading them by the farcical investigation that was nothing short of a witch hunt of Father Brian, or placing their children at risk, which they never were?

“Either way it a very bad look for the Archbishop who is representative of the Catholic Church’s values and teachings.”