Documentary suggests nuns were excommunicated for exposing paedophilic priest

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A documentary set to be shown on October 10, 2010 in Australia about the life and times of the soon to be canonised Mary MacKillop — who will be the first Australian to be made a saint — suggests that nuns including MacKillop of the Sisterhood of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in South Australia were condemned and even excommunicated by high-ranking priests for informing the authorities of the apparent paedophilic acts of Father Patrick Keating at a local public school in Kapunda, South Australia.

The excommunication of MacKillop and other nuns was performed by the Bishop of Adelaide, Laurence Bonaventure Sheil, in 1871, but the documentary is set to suggest that the influence of Father Charles Horan was the driving force behind the act. "She submitted to a farcical ceremony where the bishop was, I'm not sure you should use this word, gaga, but he had lost it and he was being manipulated by malicious priests," Father Paul Gardiner, a prominent figure in the canonisation of Mary McKillop, claims.

According to Ignatius Fennessy in the Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society:

"One Thursday evening, 21 September 1871, Horan told Mary MacKillop that the bishop (who had called while she was out that day) wanted her to go to another convent. She could not go that night and wanted to discuss matters with the sisters and the bishop as well. Horan told her that the bishop would not see her and added, 'I suppose you won't go.' She answered: 'Father, how can I under these circumstances.' Horan led her to believe that she was excommunicated. The next morning the bishop arrived with four priests and, in a ranting mood, amid the hysteria of some of the sisters, and with MacKillop kneeling down on her knees in the chapel, he excommunicated her and sent her back into the world."

Bishop Shiel renounced the excommunications on his deathbed five months later. The alleged paedophile priest, Father Keating, returned to Ireland, where he continued in fatherhood in the Catholic Church.

Mary MacKillop officially becomes the first sainted Australian on October 17, 2010 in a ceremony at The Vatican.


  • Igantius Fennessy "Hugh Charles Horan of Galway and Mother Mary MacKillop" - The Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 1999