Former Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns is gravely ill and a shadow hangs over his anticipated appearance at the Royal Commission in November.
The Ballarat Diocese confirmed Bishop Mulkearns underwent surgery on Thursday night where it was found he had cancer but a spokesperson would not confirm the kind or severity of the illness.
While the royal commission has requested Bishop Mulkearns testify at hearings beginning November 23 the latest developments add some uncertainty following his non-appearance at the Parliamentry inquiry in 2013 on grounds of ill health.
Clergy sex abuse survivor spokesperson Andrew Collins said he hoped Bishop Mulkearns’ state of health would not compromise the Royal Commission’s objectives to get at the truth over claims of a decades-long sexual abuse cover-up in the church.
“There are plenty of people who do go through cancer treatment and that’s no excuse as to why he couldn’t tell the truth,” he said.