Scrap Sex Abuse Program - Priest

Herald Sun

July 17, 2008,21985,24036050-5005961,00.html

THE Catholic Church should scrap its program to investigate sex abuse within the church because victims have been denied justice, a maverick Sydney priest says.

Father Chris Riley, who heads Youth Off The Streets, a Sydney welfare service that assists homeless, drug addicted and abused young people, said the Towards Healing program hurt the church's credibility and meant victims often did not have their day in court.

He told the Nine Network tonight that any family confronted with sexual abuse should go straight to the police and have the matter dealt with in court.

"Towards Healing, to me, I have to say, is a joke," he said.

"The perpetrator is the only winner there because often they are not charged, because it (the case) is settled.

"This is obscene, settling those sort of cases behind closed doors," Father Riley said.

"It should be out in the court, and then if they (victims) want to deal with the church, we then do that after the person is ... found guilty, and my position is, jailed for a long time.

"Then, if they want to go to the church, let's heal them then, but get justice first."

The Catholic Church's Towards Healing program was established in 1996 to investigate sex abuse claims within the church, and provide support and assistance for victims.

When asked if he would get to meet Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Sydney, Father Riley said: "Maybe tomorrow, I'm not sure. He might hear this and he mightn't want anything to do with me".


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