Aussie Bishop Said Insensitive to Victims

United Press International

July 16, 2008

SYDNEY, July 16 (UPI) -- Australian support groups Wednesday blasted comments by a Catholic bishop they say were insensitive to the victims of a 1990s priest sexual-abuse case.

Efforts by the parents of the late Emma and Katherine Foster to set up a personal meeting with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss their children's case were criticized Tuesday by Bishop Anthony Fisher, who said the World Youth Day celebrations weren't the time to bring up "old wounds," The Australian reported.

Courts found the Foster sisters were repeatedly raped by Melbourne priest Kevin O'Donnell when they were in grade school in the early 1990s. Both have since died. O'Donnell committed suicide in jail, the newspaper said.

Fisher's comments drew an angry response from Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse, which said, "The Catholic Church has a lot to learn about the burden of clergy abuse on the lives of victims, and those who care for them."

Sydney Archbishop George Pell, who apologized to the Foster family in 1998, told The Australian, "My apology still stands. I repeat it. It has never been withdrawn. It has been a tragic case in every sense of the word and I repeat my apologies."


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