Clergy Abuse Victims to Rally Weekly

Herald Sun
July 4, 2008,21985,23967813-5005961,00.html

VICTIMS of abuse by Catholic clergy will rally every Sunday in Melbourne until the church agrees to work with them to heal the harm done, victim support groups say.

The groups, which have rallied outside St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne for the past five weeks, have vowed to continue protests until the church takes action.

The rallies come as Pope Benedict XVI prepares to visit Australia during celebrations to mark World Youth Day. Thousands of young churchgoers are expected to descend on Sydney for a series of events from July 15 to 20.

The Melbourne-based support groups said Archbishop Denis Hart had walked past previous rallies and promised to pray for those gathered.

But the groups, including In Good Faith and Associates (IGFA) and Healesville Education and Awareness Raising (HEAR), said prayers fell short of addressing the lifelong trauma and loss of victims, their families and parishes.

They say Pope Benedict has promised to act to ensure justice is done and to help victims towards healing and reconciliation, and the church needs to carry out this pledge.

"Victim's groups are united in their resolve to hold restorative discussions and conferences with the Melbourne Catholic hierarchy to this end," a joint statement from IGFA and HEAR said.

Another support group, Melbourne-based Broken Rites, says it was told by representatives of Pope Benedict XVI that an apology to sexual abuse victims is being considered during his visit to Australia.

The group has written to 150 Catholic parishes across Melbourne, asking them to offer their church as a vigil site on July 12 for sex-abuse victims, the day before the Pope arrives.

In April, Pope Benedict met with victims of clergy sexual abuse in the United States.

He also spoke publicly during a Mass in Washington about the pain caused to victims and called on the Catholic church to deal with the situation honestly and work to repair the damage.

The Melbourne-based groups will rally this Sunday outside St Patrick's Cathedral at 10.30AM


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