Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Priests Meet with Alleged Victims of Sexual Harassment

Priests Meet with Alleged Victims of Sexual Harassment
Almost 50 priests met three women who accused former Bishop Ólafur Skúlason (who died in 2008) of sexual harassment in 1996 in the church Vídalínskirkja in Gardabaer yesterday and listened to their stories.



An Icelandic church. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.

“It was a valuable experience and I thank these women heartily for speaking with us after all this time and all this silence. They told us about pain and anger and this time the priests didn’t stand and hold long speeches but learnt. I believe we all learnt something and I am extremely grateful for that,” Rev. Sigrídur Gudmarsdóttir of Grafarholt in Reykjavík told visir.is.

Rev. Thórhallur Heimisson of Hafnarfjördur said the meeting had been very emotional. “It was good to meet the women and listen to their stories and hopefully for them to hear how we feel.”

Gudmarsdóttir added it had been difficult to listen to the women. “It is a heartbreaking story. It was very difficult to listen to them and many people were tearful and cried.”

“Most of them didn’t dwell long on the stories of Ólafur. What they mainly wanted to discuss was their anger about how the church ignored them and failed them in 1996 and ever since,” Gudmarsdóttir added.

“Then we stood up […], hugged and kissed and there were many people who said: ‘I’m sorry’,” Gudmarsdóttir concluded.

A committee has been appointed to investigate the late bishop’s alleged violations.

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