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Papal honour for war rape heroine

Adelaide grandmother Jan Ruff-O'Herne became the first Australian to receive the second-highest honour from the Pope yesterday in a service at the city's St Francis Xavier's Cathedral.

Archbishop Philip Wilson conferred the honour of Dame Commander of the Order of St Sylvester on Mrs Ruff-O'Herne, who was forced to become a sex slave for the Japanese military during World War II.

She became the first European victim to speak out publicly about the war crimes in 1992.

Archbishop Wilson also conferred papal honours on former social worker Cathy Black, Vicar General Monsignor David Cappo and former Vicars General James O'Loughlin and Robert Egar at a special benediction service in St Francis Xavier's Cathedral.

"It is a special day of celebration for the local church and the universal church because these honours from the Pope are special," the Archbishop said.

"All who have received honours today recognise that the greatest honour is to carry the name of Christ and to be of service to others."

Hundreds of family, friends and well-wishers attended the service.

The Advertiser

Five to receive Papal Honours (Catholic Communications Adelaide)
Papal honour to war rape heroine (Catholic Weekly 4/8/02)
Papal honour for Adelaide human rights advocate (23/7/02)
"50 Years of Silence"
Australian Story: Jan Ruff O'Herne

9 Dec 2002