Pope Urged to Make 'Meaningful' Apology

ABC News
July 12, 2008

The Broken Rites support group has called on Pope Benedict XVI to make a "meaningful" apology to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

The Pope arrives in Sydney later today and has vowed to use his first visit to Australia to apologise for the sexual abuse of children by clergy.

Apology promise: Pope Benedict XVI at Fiumicino airport in Rome before leaving for Australia
Photo by Reuters

Before leaving Rome the Pope said the church had to prevent, heal and reconcile, adding that the function of being a priest was incompatible with sexual abuse.

He said the apology would be similar to the one he delivered during his visit to the USA in April this year.

But Broken Rites spokesman Doctor Bernard Barrett says that will not be good enough.

"He made some general remarks about regret to reporters and that's not good enough, we want action not words," he said.

"It's merely just more cover-up. He must promise to end the cover-up and he must instruct the bishops to stop fighting the victims and to get on with giving them justice.

"Church sex abuse victims need action not words. The Pope must apologise for the way his Australian bishops have covered up sexual abuse, the Pope must tell his Australian bishops to stop blocking victims' access to justice in the civil law courts."

World Youth Day coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher says the Pope will make it clear that abuse has no place in the church.

"Many of the victims will be heartened by the Holy Father's frankness about this," he said.

The Pope's plane will arrive in Darwin for refuelling this morning and it is expected to touch down at Sydney's Richmond RAAF air base at about 3:00pm (AEST).

The World Youth Day celebrations have already been partly overshadowed by the launch on Friday of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against an Australian priest.

The investigation will centre on allegations from former religious education teacher Anthony Jones that a priest, Father Terence Goodall, sexually abused him in 1982.

Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell has ordered a church-appointed panel to investigate the claims.

In a 2003 letter obtained by ABC TV's Lateline, Cardinal Pell told Mr Jones an internal report did not support his accusation of attempted aggravated sexual assault, even though the report had in fact accepted all of Mr Jones's allegations.


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