Abuse Victim: Why Won't Pell See Me?

By Arjun Ramachandran
Sydney Morning Herald

July 25, 2008

A former Catholic school student says he was sexually abused by a priest and was "gut wrenched" to discover a number of classmates had also been abused.

The man told ABC 702 radio this morning that he had made at least 50 attempts to speak with Cardinal Pell and World Youth Day spokesman Bishop Anthony Fisher, since four other people in his class also claimed to be abused by the same priest.

The man, who identified himself as Paul, said he had tried to contact Bishop Fisher at his office at Watson's Bay, and had also called the Archdiocese of Sydney, St Mary's Cathedral and phoned and emailed the WYD information line.

Cardinal George Pell.
Photo by Bob Pearce

It is understood that a meeting has now been arranged between Paul and the Church.

It is not known if the date of the meeting has been set or which member of the Church he would meet.

Sex abuse allegations

Paul alleges he was fondled and molested by the priest as a young student at a Brisbane Catholic school in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He said he attempted to tell people about his alleged abuse at the time, but was rebuffed on each occasion.

"I told my parents about it and they slapped me across the face and actually belted me for telling lies ... so the lesson was 'Shut up don't say anything'.

"When I was 13 I got myself ... deliberately expelled from the school so I could get away from him.

"In my mid 20s I confronted [the priest] in Brisbane and he told me I needed my head read."

Paul said he had been outraged when Bishop Fisher suggested that people were "dwelling crankily on old wounds"during the week of the World Youth Day event.

After the comments he contacted two of his closest school friends to discuss his experience, and was shocked to hear they too had been abused by the priest.

"We rang 16 members of the class and another two admitted they'd been abused by this man," he said.

"The other horrible revelation was of a class of 29, four have committed suicide since."

After flying from Melbourne, where he now lives, to Brisbane to issue a statement to police against the priest, Paul says he sought a meeting with Cardinal Pell and Bishop Fisher.

"As a consequence of that I've been stonewalled again ... I've been told that many people want to speak to Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Fisher as a result of WYD."

A spokesman for Cardinal Pell and Bishop Fisher has been contacted for comment.

In his visit to Sydney for WYD, the Pope held a Mass with four victims of sexual abuse, and also issued an apology.

"The fact the Pope in his busy schedule can find time to meet with four victims and [Cardinal] Pell and [Archbishop] Fisher can't [suggests they are] far more busy than the Pope," Paul told 702.

Following the Pope's Mass with abuse victims, Cardinal Pell said others could share in the healing because they were told what the service had entailed.

"It was a small gathering which we hope will send out a message of the genuine sorrow of the Pope and of the Australian bishops. Many, many hundreds of people have contacted me wanting to meet the Pope. I wasn't able to accommodate all of them."


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