Clergy Sex Abuse Victims in Protest

By Katie Bradford
Herald Sun

July 12, 2008,21985,24009065-5005961,00.html

A VIGIL to remember victims of clergy sexual abuse has been held in Melbourne as survivors make a last attempt prior to the Pope's arrival in Australia to make their voices heard.

About 20 survivors and supporters held a vigil outside the St Patricks' Cathedral in the city for an hour this afternoon. Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Sydney tomorrow for World Youth Day celebrations.

Broken Rites spokeswoman Chris MacIsaac said the group were there to bear testimony to the fact sexual abuse by clergy happened and continues to be covered-up.

"We want him (the Pope) to know what this is all about, how serious the issue is in Australia and we want an apology that is meaningful," Ms MacIsaac told AAP.

She said despite the group writing to the Pope and asking for an apology to be made while he was in Australia, the group had yet to hear anything.

"Nothing. They haven't communicated with us. Nothing at all."

The protesters held a minute's silence for people who have died as an indirect result of clergy sexual abuse through suicide or drug and alcohol use. The sound of a priest's voice leading prayers inside the cathedral could be heard outside as the minute's silence was held.

Flocks of young pilgrims headed in and out of the cathedral during the vigil, some looking on curiously, reading and taking photos of the protesters placards.

Members of Broken Rites planned to visit Sydney to continue to call on the Pope to apologise, Ms MacIsaac said.

Tomorrow, a major rally titled Youth against World Youth Day, will be held in Melbourne.

Rally organiser Jason Ball said the rally was a stand against the Pope's attitudes toward women, gay people and condoms.

A coalition of Melbourne activists and politicians will also speak out against the NSW Government's so called "annoyance laws", which threaten a $5500 fine to anyone causing "annoyance" to World Youth Day participants.


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