Sunday, July 11, 2010

No apology for Qld victims of sex predator clergy

No apology for Qld victims of sex predator clergy
KATE DENNEHY Brisbane Times
July 11, 2010 - 3:00AM

Queensland Catholics who were sexually abused by the clergy will not receive a personalised apology from their archbishop as did victims in Victoria this month.

Melbourne’s Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart sent a pastoral letter of apology that was read out or distributed in all 219 parishes in the archdiocese.

Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell later said he ‘‘strongly supported’’ Archbishop Hart’s apology, that he himself had apologised to victims of church sexual abuse and that he would apologise again if it were helpful.

Advertisement: Story continues belowOn Friday, a spokesman for Catholic Church in Brisbane said the archdiocese would not be following Archbishop Hart’s example.

An emailed statement quoting "a spokesman for Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane" (and not once mentioning the Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby) said the archdiocese ‘‘fully supports the strong statements of apology" by Pope Benedict XVI to victims of sexual abuse in 2008.

The Pope, at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, said he was "deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured".

"The Holy Father continues to ask all Catholics to work together to combat this evil by ensuring victims receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice," the Brisbane spokesman said.

"The Archdiocese has on many occasions expressed its deep remorse to the victims of sexual abuse for their pain and suffering. We continue to acknowledge their courage in coming forward so that justice can be achieved."

Archbishop Hart’s very personal letter said the "criminal offences" and breaches of vows by some brought shame upon the entire church and continuing reports of abuse, including the latest investigations in Europe, were causing "great distress".

"The scourge of sexual abuse continues to cause great distress and in many cases a crisis of faith among Catholics," his letter said.

"Sexual abuse in any form, and any attempt to conceal it, is a grave evil and is totally unacceptable. As your archbishop, I want you to know that I share in your desolation and sense of betrayal."

"How can we Catholics not be shocked and ashamed … For me personally, this is one of the saddest times of my 43 years in the Catholic priesthood," he says.

"With great humility we acknowledge that the crimes of the perpetrators have done great harm. We recognise that in the past we have not always dealt appropriately with offenders. We have had to learn from our mistakes, and continue to do so."

The Brisbane spokesman said Queensland victims of abuse were encouraged to contact the police.

In 1996 the church set up a process called Towards Healing where victims could complain about sexual abuse by church personnel but many people criticised it for covering up crimes rather than dealing with the issue.

"Whilst we support the issuing of a pastoral letter in the Melbourne Archdiocese, in Brisbane our focus is on raising awareness in parishes of our Archdiocese’s independent Towards Healing process and ensuring the many statements by Pope Benedict on this important issue have a wide distribution across the Archdiocese via the Archdiocesan newspaper."

Karyn Walsh, coordinator of the social justice group, Micah Projects, said the Catholic Church hierarachy spoke about sexual abuse by the clergy as ‘‘an evil within the church’’ as if they themselves were not involved.

"They are very much involved. We’ve had about 3000 complaints in the last 10 years mostly from Queenslanders,’’ she said.

"Archbishop Bathersby and the bishops can’t - or choose not to - grasp the full extent of what victims and their families have gone through and are still going through."

President of the victims’ support group Broken Rites Chris MacIsaacsaid the church hierarchy had left an apology and action "about 20 years late" and the group still received "thousands of calls" from distressed victims.

No comments: