February 22, 2017
An Australian priest who set up a cult-like group based on the Peanuts comic strip to groom convent school girls has been dismissed from the clergy.
The Pope has agreed to Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge's petition to dismiss Francis Edward Derriman, nearly two decades after his conviction for indecently assaulting a teenage girl in the 1960s.
The child sex abuse royal commission has previously criticised the Catholic Church for doing nothing for years about Derriman, only starting the canonical process for his dismissal 15 years after the 1998 conviction.
Archbishop Coleridge has been pushing for the Holy See to dismiss Derriman, twice meeting with Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith personnel in Rome in an attempt to expedite the 2014 petition.
Archbishop Coleridge said his concerns about the delays in the Vatican processes increased when five of his petitions to dismiss priests convicted of child sex abuse were refused.
He was informed in October last year that the Pope had decided to dismiss Derriman from the clerical state, the archbishop revealed in a statement to the royal commission released on Tuesday.
Derriman's victim Joan Isaacs told the commission in 2013 that Derriman created a cult-like group that included herself and three other children, using the Peanuts comic as a platform and referring to himself and the children with the 'Brown' surname.
Derriman, who was the chaplain of Brisbane's Sacred Heart Convent at the time of the abuse, was not able to function as a priest after being excommunicated in 1970 when he married. He then moved to Victoria.
But he remained an ordained Catholic priest until Pope Francis agreed to his dismissal, the most severe disciplinary measure in canon law that can be sought by a Catholic Church authority.
Archbishop Coleridge has made eight petitions to the Holy See to dismiss priests convicted of child sex abuse or possessing child exploitation material.
One of those priests has since died.
Archbishop Coleridge said the CDF refused his petitions in five cases.
One application remains pending.
Archbishop Coleridge will again appear before the royal commission on Thursday, joining Australia's four other metropolitan archbishops on a panel as part of inquiry's final hearing into the Catholic Church.