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Archbishops apologise to abuse victims


Archbishops Pell of Sydney and Hart of Melbourne issued a joint "sincere and unreserved" apology to those who have been hurt, while Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson yesterday stated that widespread media coverage of sexual abuse and the Catholic Church this week has highlighted the intense anger of victims of abuse.

The Sydney/Melbourne statement seeks to clarify complaint procedures which have become confused in the wake of the week's media coverage. It stressed that victims are "not silenced as a condition for receiving counselling or compensation".

The Archbishop of Adelaide's statement attempts to show he is grappling with the need to understand the bitter experience of victims.

"They are angry not only about the shocking abuse they have suffered but also by their feeling that church authorities have failed to handle these matters properly," Archbishop Wilson said.

"I understand their anger. The church has made some grave mistakes in responding to the needs of victims and to the situation of perpetrators and we've learnt from these mistakes.

"I know that Archbishop George Pell and all bishops in Australia are very genuine in their desire to support and care for victims of abuse and it's important to know that proper procedures are in place."

Archbishop Wilson said the national guidelines for dealing with child sex abuse called Towards Healing and the Melbourne Guidelines were all designed to care for victims.

"None of these procedures, particularly those involving compensation, are about 'hushing up' victims of abuse and to suggest otherwise is simply wrong," he said.


LINKS
Church apologises for 'evil' behaviour (Herald-Sun)
It's never too late to say sorry (The Age)
We did not try to hush sex victims, say priests (The Age)
Australian bishops sorry for sex cases (BBC)
Church says sorry (AAP)
Australia Catholic Church Apologises (AP)
Catholic archbishops in Australia apologize to victims of sexual abuse (Ananova)

SOURCE
Catholic Communications (SA)/Royce

7 Jun 2002