Loud Showing of Support for Victims
March 5, 2016
St Patrick's Church and St Mary's Catholic School have become one of the first organisations outside Ballarat to join The Loud Fence Movement.
Parish priest Carl Mackander said he was inspired to begin a local chapter of the movement following the wave of criticism over Cardinal George Pell's comments at the Australian Royal Commission.
"Cardinal Pell appears to have softened his stance and met with the victims in Rome, and he is appearing more compassionate towards them. He seems to have retracted his earlier comments which were insensitive and showed a real lack of compassion," Father Mackander said.
Wellington's parish priest said he, like many, was shocked by Cardinal Pell's words.
Father Mackander said the movement which began in Ballarat should bring people together.
"The cardinal made a gesture of support for victims by taking the Loud Fence Movement into the heart of the Vatican," he said.
"Now its has expanded to New York, Bali and London as well."
Father Mackander said the difficult topic had resonated with St Mary's principal Simon Price who was working with him and school leaders to discuss the issue of child sexual abuse.
"It exists around the world. The church is paying a high price for its failure to come to terms with it and the wider community is also beginning to realise more has to be done. In the Hunter Valley priests have been convicted over abuse," he said.
Father Mackander talked with children at St Mary's about how you shouldn't carry the scars of abuse with you.
"Talk to your principal, your school teacher let's talk about it. From safe schools to stranger danger we left no subject alone to ensure the students understood we have do this together.''
Father Mackander said the church still had much to learn.
"There is much we need to do. We have feet of clay like anybody else and we want to speak out for anybody who has been abused," he said.
Father Mackander, Mr Price, school teachers and children tied ribbons to the school fence to show their support of The Loud Fence Movement.
"I encourage other schools and churches across the central west to raise even more awareness of child sexual abuse and I am talking to other parish priests about this," he said.
Cardinal Pell tied a yellow ribbon supporting the movement in the Lordes Grotto at the Vatican Gardens.
He did this before the Royal Commission heard from him this week.
"I am aware of the Loud Fence movement and how it has grown rapidly. This is my gesture. I think this is an entirely appropriate place to place a ribbon of support and prayed for all survivors of abuse here. I hope the coming days will eventually lead to healing for everyone," Cardinal Pell said.
Cardinal Pell said although it might only appear a symbol, it was a sign of support and solidarity he hoped people would accept.
"Ribbons of support have also appeared on the wooden barricades around St Peter's Square but none within the Vatican itself in support, especially for the people of Ballarat," Cardinal Pell said.