Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vatican gala out of place, says abuse victim Paola Totaro HERALD CORRESPONDENT
October 15, 2010

Mark Fabbro ... aged 11 when he was abused by a priest. Photo: Penny Bradfield

ROME: It has been a long, lonely journey for Mark Fabbro - a road that plunged his early life into demons and darkness - and has now brought him to Rome to seek respite.

Just 11 years old when he was raped in broad daylight by a priest at a Jesuit school in Melbourne, the Italo-Australian was sent to board at St Ignatius' College in Sydney soon after.

Haunted by an overwhelming sense of shame, he held on to his terrifying secret through a turbulent adolescence and into an angry, uncontrollable youth.

Advertisement: Story continues below He was expelled from two schools and failed his HSC. Fabbro then fled to the desert, hitch-hiking around Australia barefoot and finally, ending up homeless. The crime, he says, led to what he views as his ''soul death'': ''I was escaping myself and my past - the thing, the incident that was the source of my spiritual and psychological trauma,'' he said in Rome yesterday.

Fabbro, now 49, eventually found solace in art. His allegations against the priest who abused him have been substantiated by an internal investigation by the church but his attacker, Father John Byrne, is now dead. Fabbro is riven by the sense that the man who stole his childhood was removed from children but protected by his order. He says his suffering - like that of so many others - has not been properly acknowledged nor the crime committed against him adequately punished. ''Many other priests have been trafficked out of the countries where they were accused and moved where they may still pose a threat to the safety of children.''

Fabbro argues Mary MacKillop was a woman of courage and moral fortitude who stood up to the church hierarchy and sought redress for the disadvantaged and marginalised. But this message, he says, has been lost in the ''pomp and ceremony'' of the canonisations at the Vatican.

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