Hopes of Papal Apology over Sex Abuse

By Ean Higgins
The Australian
June 30, 2008,25197,23943240-5006784,00.html

THE most senior Catholic leader in Australia said yesterday he would welcome an apology by the Pope to victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated in church agencies.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, said in a television interview that "if the Pope chose to do that, it would probably be a welcome contribution" at World Youth Day in Sydney next month.

"The Pope I think handled that issue particularly well in the US," Cardinal Pell told the Sky News Sunday Agenda program.

"What he says is his business, but I would hope the whole issue will be dealt with appropriately. It's a significant issue."

Cardinal Pell's remarks are likely to raise hopes for an apology, particularly among sex abuse victims who have called on Benedict XVI to use World Youth Day as an opportunity to heal decades of pain over the issue.

While Catholic officials publicly maintain they do not know what the Pope will say during his visit for World Youth Day, it is thought Cardinal Pell would be unlikely to make such comments unless he expected a papal apology to be issued.

Individual victims and lobbying and support groups such as Broken Rites have expressed their desire for public recognition of the sexual abuse against children perpetrated by Catholic priests, lay clergy and teachers over the decades.

The call comes as a spate of high-profile criminal and civil cases have hit the headlines.

Legal practitioners, victims and lobby groups claim that despite expressions of remorse by church leaders, the church is using legal loopholes to escape liability and civil compensation where it can.

In the interview with Sky News, Cardinal Pell said: "Certainly there's plenty for which we shouldn't be - we're not proud.

"We faced up to it I think pretty well for quite some time now, and I think it would be appropriate for the Pope to say something on that score."

In a recent visit to the US, the Pope issued a historic apology to victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, an issue that has been the subject of widespread publicity and massive litigation in that country.

The Pope's Australian visit comes as controversy surrounding decades of child sexual abuse at three Catholic private schools in Canberra has raised the profile of the issue.

Former Marist College teacher John William Chute, known as Brother Kostka, was last week jailed for two years for the sexualabuse of six students at theschool.

Canberra firm Porters Lawyers is suing the Marist College on behalf of more than 30 former students allegedly abused by Kostka and another teacher, Paul John Lyons, a confessed pedophile who committed suicide eight years ago after admitting to molesting a former student.

The firm also has actions against Daramalan College, where Lyons taught, and is acting for a woman who claims to have been serially raped by a former priest at St Matthews school.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.