Priest forced to refuse top mental health job

A SENIOR South Australian Catholic priest has been forced to turn down a key government posting as head of the National Mental Health Commission amid criticisms he was involved in covering up a church sex abuse scandal.

Monsignor David Cappo last week advised the government he would not take up the role following accusations he had not acted “in a timely manner” in response to a revelation from Adelaide-based Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth that he was the victim of violent rapes at the hands of three priests beginning in 1960.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon, who last week used parliamentary privilege to name the alleged abusers, had called for Monsignor Cappo to be sacked as chair of the commission pending a review of the church’s handling of the rape allegations.

The Gillard government appointed Monsignor Cappo to the role earlier this month.

At the time of the alleged abuse, Archbishop Hepworth was aged 15 and was