Child Abuse Healing Service: Canberra-goulburn Archbishop's Absence "Appalling', Advocates Say

ABC News
November 11, 2016's-absence-at-child-abuse-service-labelled-appalling/8018930

PHOTO Marist College held a liturgy for sexual abuse survivors on Thursday.

Advocates for victims of child abuse have hit out at the Archbishop of the Canberra-Goulburn region over his absence at a healing service at Marist College, labelling his decision "appalling".

On Thursday night, the all-boys Catholic school in Canberra's south held a liturgy for abuse survivors, at which its headmaster and the Provincial of the Marist Brothers apologised for abuse that took place at the school, and subsequent failures to deal with it effectively.

Many instances of abuse committed by Marist staff in the 1970s and 1980s were examined during hearings at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.

PHOTO Archbishop Christopher Prowse declined to attend the healing service in person.


Archbishop of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese Christopher Prowse gave the event his blessing but chose not to attend in person.

"The fact that the Archbishop had better things to do last night is appalling," anti-child abuse advocate and former Marist student Damian De Marco said.

"He is in charge of the safety of every child in his archdiocese, he is responsible for the Institute of Safeguarding."

Archbishop Prowse was represented at the event by two other priests.

"The Archbishop was invited to the Marist ceremony yesterday evening and he gave the occasion his blessing," a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said.

"Once the Royal Commission has concluded, the Archbishop will host a healing service in the Cathedral for all survivors of abuse."

However Mike Desmond, a campaigner for victims of abuse, said the Archbishop's absence was concerning.

"I think something so serious as the apology, as it was last night, I think it should have been the Archbishop's number one priority," Mr Desmond said.

"Apparently he declined to attend, which I think may speak volumes for the way the Church has responded to these."

Apology 'a good start'

Mr De Marco welcomed Marist's apology but said more work needed to be done to prevent future abuse.

"It is a great step forward, but it is but one step," he said.

"It is hopefully an indication that they are at last determined to tackle some of the huge problems that face the church."

"There are no changes of the key problems that cause the abuse, and cause the abuse to be consistently concealed."

Mr Desmond agreed there was still a way to go for the Church to prevent abuse.

"I think the Church and the Marist Order needs to look at its consolidated approach, every school seems to be running its own response," he said.

Marist headmaster Richard Sidorko said the school would continue to push towards healing for victims.

"Last night wasn't an end point, last night was a beginning," he said.








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