EXCLUSIVE: George Pell, Father Anthony Bongiorno and the killing of Maria James – Independent Australia

Posted: February 9, 2020 at 6:50 pm

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40 years ago, Melbourne bookshop owner and mother of two boys Maria James was viciously stabbed 68 times with her ownkitchen knife. As a new inquest begins into these killings,contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence calls for Cardinal George Pell, former Premier Jeff Kennett and VictoriaPolice to be re-investigated.

Should incarceratedconvicted paedophile Cardinal George Pell be interviewed by Victoria Police about his relationship with fellow paedophile and close friend Father Anthony Salvatore Bongiorno, chief suspect in the bloody murder of Maria James on 17 June1980?

This nascent year marks the 40th anniversary of this heinous and still unsolved crime.

The Coroners Court of Victoria is now in the midst of an investigation into the ruthless killing of Maria James.

Should Cardinal George Pell be interviewed by coronial investigators and be called as a witness to the inquest?

New facts about the Maria James murder have come to light and Cardinal George Pell may be able to provide more information about Father Anthony Bongiorno and the brother whose requiem mass he officiated, Salvatore "Sam"Bongiorno.

We found this article by Keith Moor in the Sunday Herald Sun, 30August 2007, on the retrospective Wayback Machine, the internet archive. Whats it doing there?

Heres a quote:

'FORMER premier Jeff Kennett received written information in 1998 that nominated Father Bongiorno as a child molester. He gave the letter, which contained a photo of Father Bongiorno, to police.'


What did Victoria Police do with that letter and photo? Should former Premier Jeff Kennett be interviewed by the Coroner? What did the letter say? Who wrote it? Was the letter DNA tested?

Has Kennett, the former chairman of Beyond Blue, kept a copy of the letter and photo he received implicating Father Tony Bongiorno in the Maria James murder? Where is that material now? From where was it posted? Or was it delivered to Parliament House? Is there any CCV footage? Will the police give this material to the coronial investigators? If not, will the Coroner compel the police to produce this evidence? So many questions. So few answers.

Who signed that letter to Kennett? Was it anonymous? Why cant we see the letter and photo now that Father Bongiorno is dead; redact the senders name if needs be. Was the letter typed, handwritten? Had the sender sent a copy of the same letter and photo to Victoria Police? Did they bin this info?Just asking.

Here we should refer to the volatile and sometimes acrimonious relationship between now Cardinal George Pell and Jeff Kennett, both uber-powerful figures in Melbournes establishment, both notoriously capable of exercising extreme autocratic power and influence and still needy for both. No mistake should be made about any diminution of power and influence since Pells conviction and incarceration. He still has powerful friends in both high and low places.

Kennett less so, but nonetheless he occupies a prison of another kind; not dissimilar to that of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, incarcerated in cells of their own making within those invisible walls that sometimes entrap the once-powerful now languishing in a faraway galaxy of lessening consequence; Misters Who?

Few analysts will forget then Archbishop Pells edict to the non-Catholic Jeff Kennett that he was forbidden to receive communion at the Pontifical requiem mass for the state funeral of B A Santamaria in March 1998, where Pell delivered an eloquent and moving panegyric about his friend, who to this day surely remains Australias most powerful Catholic layman. Waddya reckon Jesus Jezza, to you and me wouldve said?

Pells spiteful rebuff to Kennett should be viewed in the shroud of hypocrisy worn by Pell. But hey, it was payback time for Pell against his nemesis, Kennett.

According to his conviction and the datelines of his crimes Archbishop George Pell was already a sexual abuser when he denied Kennetts request and yet the Host consecrated in Holy Communion would be served by the hands of a paedophile rapistas the defiled Host has been served a billion times to believers and parishioners by paedophile priests.

Rememberthat in this sacrament, the wafer of the Host is miraculously transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. To be specific, paedophile priests who administer Holy Communion are surely raping Jesus.

It should be noted that a couple of years beforehand, in 1996, Kennett told Archbishop George Pell to sort out the sex abuse issue within Victoria or possibly face a Royal Commission.

Whats wrong with this behind-closed-doors dictum? Everything. Kennett should have called a Royal Commission regardless, given the gravity and extent of the sex abuse. These criminal activities by priests and brothers within the Catholic Church were widely known.

By designating to the Catholic Church what should have been the role, duties of care and prosecution by thestate, Kennett undermined the role of the police and judiciary and failed to act in the public interest.

Moreover, he breached the protocols of the Separation of Powers. Kennett had no right to make this private pact with the Catholic Church or to make such a repugnant decision on our behalf.

Did Kennett discuss his decision with his colleagues;his cabinet?

In every sense, it was a pact made with the Devil; a pact that the Kennett-proxied State made with the perpetrators of industrial-strength sexual abuse of children. In its execution, it meant the State facilitated the subsequent cover-up. The Catholic Church, of course, typically did next to nothing.

Yes, a redress scheme panel of very important impressive names and police was set up. It made a great figleaf over the genitalia of paedophilic clergy.

As the Royal Commission revealed. Kennett had given Pell and The Church a free pass.

The Catholic Church did not clean up its act and Kennett did not call a Royal Commission.

Kennetts Napoleonic actions reflect the persistent diminution and disregard for the safety and welfare of victims in this case, little and vulnerable children. Instead of the Premiers guardianship of children, his actions reflected the states tacit collusion in protecting the reputation of the all-powerful Catholic Church.

Kennett did the victims and wider community a great injustice and much ongoing harm.

Thus, against the above backdrop, it was a blessed relief in more ways than one when Acting Coroner Iain West called a halt to the obfuscating nonsense surrounding the mysterious cold case of the Maria James murder.

Here is the full text:


Friday 30 November 2018

Coroners Court of Victoria


Acting State Coroner Iain West has today re-opened the coronial investigation into the death of Maria James.

Ms James, 38, was found murdered in her bookshop at 736 High Street, Thornbury on 17 June 1980.

On 25 November 1982, Coroner K.G. Mason held an inquest into the death of Ms James and found that her homicide was committed by a person unknown.

In July 2017, the Coroners Court of Victoria received an application from Mark James, Ms Jamess son, requesting that Coroner Masons finding be set aside and the coronial investigation into his mothers death be re-opened.

Following the introduction of legislative amendments to the Coroners Act 2008 on 28 October 2018, His Honour is empowered to set aside findings made under previous Coroners Acts of 1958 and 1985 and re-open investigations if new facts or circumstances make it appropriate to do so.

Having considered the application, His Honour has determined to set aside the 1982 finding and re- open the investigation.

As the investigation is ongoing, no further comment can be made at this time.

Strangely, I could not find Wests statement on the Coroners website and notified the department of this. At the time of writing, I understand this is being rectified. It is not the first time that IAhas discovered anomalies in court record keeping.

Independent Australia has learned that some senior police and personnel within the Department of Justice were bloody annoyed by Wests decision. Why? Because there are a number of egregious faultlines in the decades-long investigation(s) into the James murder, including what I assert is a deliberate failure to properly consider the relationship and overriding influence of the Catholic Church upon the establishment, the polity, the police, some media, judiciary, elite business and influencers, the top end of town indeed the wider community. That influence remains sans frontieres. Even today.

Such is the climate of fear carefully cultivated by the Catholic Church and its agents and representatives, that many whistleblowers are still too scared and too scarred to be named.

Moreover, the threat of legal action has made writing/publishing about the church, problematic; especially when it comes to George Pell. Without doubt, a chat with Cardinal Pell about his fellow perpetrator, Father Tony Bongiorno, could clarify some aspects of the latters connection and relationship with Maria James.

Did Pell ever hear Bongiornos confession? Has Pell ever heard confessions about the sexual abuse of children? Any priest or brother made such a confession to him? He could certainly answer that much. No question. Pell should also answer questions about how he responded to those who confess such criminal acts. Answering such questions doesnot break the Seal of Confession.

The 38-year-old mother of two young boys had been bound and viciously stabbed 68 times in her Thornbury secondhand bookshop, with her own Wiltshire kitchen knife, on that fateful Tuesday, evoking similarities with the frenzied stabbings in yet another decades-old unsolved crime against women the notorious Easey Street murdersof Suzanne Armstrong and Susan Bartlett, three years earlier.

Neither I nor Independent Australia make any inference whatever that George Pell was involved in the murder of Maria James in any way but it should be noted that Pell was a friend to Father Bongiorno long before the murder - and long after; including long after it was common knowledge amongst priests, the Vatican, the Catholic Church, in particular, the Archdiocese of Melbourne, within certain police circles and George Pell himself, that Bongiorno was a serial paedophile.

In fact, like so many other paedophile priests and brothers, aided and abetted in their crimes by the Catholic Church, whenever Bongiornos sexual abusing became obviously promiscuous, he was rewarded by his masters with being trafficked to new culling fields to enjoy "fresh new meat young veal".

In the Churchs despicable modusoperandi, Bongiorno was simply whored around to various parishes, who welcomed him with open palms and the usual blaspheming psalms. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. These unholy priests, brothers in alms. Their insatiable sexual appetites kept well-fed.

In the lexicon of the Church, these lambs were led to their sexual slaughter by predominantly White adult males who were in some cases, members of privileged, elite paedophile rings who raped their child victims in the name of their God.

Often, these "new"parishes already had a paedophile priest in situ, so assimilation was easy. Victims were shared, notes compared.

At the time of the James murder, Bongiorno was an assistant parish priest at the nearby St Marys Catholic Church, on the corner of Rossmoyne and High St the same street as the bookshop. Before it became known as "Bongiornos church"it once boasted a robust Italian migrant congregation and was known for its Italian mass.

On the Catholic Church websites, there is now a strange emptiness on the St Marys page(s).

Not even an acknowledgement or proud boast that the current Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, was once the parish priest in residence. No list of priests who have officiated at the parish. Nothing to see here. No list of victims of paedophile priests. No list of paedophile priests.

Certainly, nothing about Father Anthony Bongiorno who remains a key suspect in the James murder and who is now known to have sexually abused Maria James youngest son, Adam, then aged 11, who lives with cerebral palsy, Tourettes and his champion of a big brother, Mark, then 13-years-old and an altar boy.

Please watch this moving and compelling interview with Adam and Mark, posted on YouTube by the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALID) and witness the personal empowerment that comes with not only the telling of your story but also the validation that comes with being heard and believed by the community.

In a cruel twist of fate, Bongiorno was actually the person whom police asked to notify Mark of his mothers death. What is more, it was Bongiorno who officiated at Maria James funeral service. Galling. By any measure. But it is what we have sadly come to expect of insinuating Catholic paedophile priests and their facilitating church executives.

By all accounts, Maria James was fiercely protective of her children. She was a lioness of a mother when it came to her boys.

It is believed that on the very day she was murdered, Maria James was about to confront Father Bongiorno about sexually abusing Adam. Did he get in first? Did he kill her?

Or, was Bongiorno trying to protect someone else. His brother?

Anthony and Sam were close siblings. Did Sam know Maria James? Was he a suitor? Did he murder Maria James? Did Victoria Police check out Sam Bongiorno?

Is Sam Bongiorno a legitimate suspect?

Did George Pell also know Tony Bongiornos brother Sam well? And their sister?The same sister who refused to give her DNA to eliminate Father Bongiorno as a murder suspect? Why wasnt she prepared to eliminate her brother Father Anthony Bongiorno as a suspect?

Could it be by giving her DNA she might also implicate her other brother, Sam Bongiorno? Was the sister interviewed by the police about Sam? Was Sam Bongiorno every interviewed by police?

If Father Bongiornos body cant be exhumed can Sam Bongiornos body be exhumed are there other of his family members who can give permission to exhume Sam Bongiornos body?

An exhumation could move us closer to a DNA profile. Could Cardinal George Pell be asked to speak with the Bongiorno sister and gain permission from her to exhume Father Bongiornos body to take a DNA sample as an act of compassion for Mark and Adam James?

At the time of writing, I have not been able to establish if the Bongiorno sister is still alive. If she isnt, perhaps other family members could provide DNA samples present in any of her possessions even a hairbrush?

It should be further noted that in the 1960s, "Tony"Bongiorno was in the same seminary group and intake at Corpus Christi College (then at Werribee) as his mate George Pell. By all accounts, they became firm friends and spent much time together, according to our trusted sources.

Also in that group was another student priest who, like Pell, would go on to become Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart.

Someone else in that illustrious intake was none other than Father Sean OConnell who later became a parish priest at St Pauls in Coburg, a mere Magdalene stones throw from St Marys Thornbury. So FatherOConnell was just up the road from his old mate, Father Bongiorno.

OConnell was to conveniently provide his mate Father Tony Bongiorno with an all-day alibi at the time of the Maria James murder that contradicts other alleged sightings of a possible murderer (including of a bloodied priest) and various timelines.

In the 1850s, two famous and infamous Catholic rebels worshipped at St Pauls.

One was the now canonised, Sister Mary MacKillop, who ironically was once arguably excommunicated for reporting a priest for child sexual abuse and the other was the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly, hanged and decapitated in1880.

OConnells former student priest classmate, Archbishop Denis Hart did the honourswhen he celebrated mass for the consecration of St Pauls on 3 July 2011after three years of restoration work. Why the restoration work?

In March 2008, a suspicious fire caused about $2 million worth of damage to St Pauls. The year before, the parish community hall opposite the church was razed.

But Ned Kelly was not the only criminal associated with St Pauls. Indeed, Father Sean OConnell found himself charged with harbouring one of Mark "Chopper"Reads mates.

Three years before the Maria James murder, on 9 May1977, notorious career criminal and Chopper-acolyte Jimmy Loughnan escaped from the bluestone fortress of Pentridge Prison and found himself in the grounds of St Pauls.

As documented in James Mortons book Maximum Security, Father OConnell was originally convicted of harbouring the injured Loughnan, but the conviction was quashed on appeal.

It should be noted that Anthony Bongiorno was one of the student priests who attended a holiday camp on Phillip Island during the time when George Pell, also a student priest, was accused of sexually abusing altar boys, in 1961/1962.

In fact, the allegations against George Pell were the subject of what is known as the Southwell Report, which Pell falsely claimed exonerated him.

As we have cited, itdid nothing of the sort.

It was a falsehood that Pell, the Catholic Church and its behemoth propaganda artillery had promulgated for years, yet again causing great damage to the veracity and reputations of complainants, victims/survivors of church, institutional and "civilian"child and adult sexual abuse alike, contributing to the great physical and mental harm done still to generations of victims.

The fake news of Pells assertions were compounded at the time by a dodgy headline in mainstream medias Sydney Morning Herald falsely proclaiming Pell exonerated over abuse claims, despite the articles anonymous writer actually pointing out among other things that:-

Mr Southwell's Report concluded that he accepted:

'... as correct the submission of [barrister Michael] Tovey that the complainant, when giving evidence of molesting, gave the impression that he was speaking honestly from an actual recollection. However, the respondent, also, gave me the impression that he was speaking the truth.'

Why was the writer anonymous? Grown-up journalists usually have a byline on such stories. Did the writer object to the headline and ask that his/her byline be removed?

The misrepresentation of the Southwell Report also proved a forceful deterrent to some victims coming forward and outright fisting to the courage of those who had already stepped forward naming their tormentors and abusers.

The 91-year-old Alec James "Ginger"Southwell QC died on January 26, 2018. He had impeccable legalcredentials.

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EXCLUSIVE: George Pell, Father Anthony Bongiorno and the killing of Maria James - Independent Australia

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:50 pm