|Call to Make Mary Patron Saint of the Abused
By Paolo Totaro
October 18, 2010
ONE of the most respected Catholic commentators in the US, Jesuit Father James Martin, has urged the Vatican to make Mary MacKillop the patron saint of the abused.
The possibility, reported in the Italian press before the canonisation, had not been taken seriously until Father Martin, editor of the influential Jesuit magazine America, made his comments.
In an editorial, he called for victims of abuse to be given a patron to whom they can pray in their search for justice. The canonisation of "an Australian sister and foundress of a women's religious order ... says a great deal about sanctity, about sin, about women in the church and, finally, about hope", he wrote. "Any whistleblower, particularly when addressing something as incendiary as sexual abuse, then or now, is bound to face serious, even extreme, opposition.
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"The prophet will face a dismissive attitude, veiled contempt, hostile denials ... or, as in the case of Mary MacKillop, outright punishment. Only recently has the church begun to see whistleblowers as necessary — and holy."
Broken Rites, a group helping sexual abuse victims, recently said that although it doesn't have a patron saint, if it gets one, it will be Mary MacKillop.
Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, said that while it would be appropriate to have a patron saint for abuse victims, Mary MacKillop had played no such role and was not leading the Josephites when the nuns reported a paedophile priest in Adelaide.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, asked if the government should act where the church had not, said that abuse was "a terrible blight" but the law applied to all.
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