Sydney - A bishop in charge during one of Australia's darkest periods of child abuse by Catholic clergy died on Monday, depriving an inquiry of further evidence from a man once closely linked to Vatican finance chief George Pell.
Ronald Mulkearns, the bishop of Ballarat in the state of Victoria between 1971 and 1997, died from cancer aged 85, the church said.
A Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard in February that he knew that notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale and others were sexually abusing children in his diocese.
Rather than inform authorities, he moved them between parishes, where they continued to offend.
Ridsdale, who once shared a home with Pell, was eventually convicted of more than 100 charges of sexual abuse against children.