Father Kevin Dillon Urges Church Colleagues to Stop Trivialising Sex Abuse Allegations

By Aleks Devic
Geelong Advertiser
July 18, 2008

GEELONG's top Catholic priest yesterday spoke out against members of the clergy who have tried to trivialise sexual abuse allegations troubling the church.

With Pope Benedict XVI in Australia for this week's World Youth Day celebrations, Father Kevin Dillon said the attitude of some of his colleagues made him cringe with embarrassment.

"Sexual abuse can't be written off, it's never old, it's always fresh," he said.

"People have been violated, it has affected their families, their loved ones and it's turned their lives upside down."

Father Dillon said the Catholic Church's reputation was at risk if people at the top trivialised sexual abuse claims and dodged questions.

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"We should offer as much compassion as we can; we should be the ones binding up bonds, and not be the wounders," he said.

Father Dillon also criticised the $50,000 cap put on compensation claims for sexual abuse victims.

"For most people it's a life sentence and I can never understand why compensation is capped, because each case is different," he said.

Father Dillon's colleague, Bishop Anthony Fisher, a WYD co-ordinator, this week told people to stop "dwelling crankily" over sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church.

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On Wednesday, Bishop Fisher said the constant media attention given to sisters Emma and Katherine Foster, who were repeatedly raped by a priest, negatively shifted focus from the huge turnout of pilgrims to the Catholic youth festival in Sydney.

"I think most of Australia was enjoying delighting in the beauty and goodness of these young people ... rather than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds," he said.

Bishop Fisher's comment was described as hurtful by St Joseph's College sexual assault victim Chris Pianto, who demanded he be stood down from his WYD position.

Mr Pianto said it was hard for victims of sexual abuse to move on if the Catholic Church continuously down played the incidents.

"He (Bishop Fisher) needs to be stood down immediately and, like criminals and drink drivers, he should be counselled because he has absolutely no tact towards these issues," he said.

During the 1970s, Mr Pianto was abused by a St Joseph's teacher, His story only surfaced when he was aged 27 and heard his younger brother was to be taught by the same teacher.


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