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Rockhampton bishop asked to quit

The lawyer for victims of convicted pedophile priest Michael Joseph McArdle has called for Rockhampton Diocese Bishop Brian Heenan to stand down for failing in his duty of care.

The Australian newspaper reports that Simon Harrison of Brisbane law firm Quinn and Scattini lodged a criminal compensation claim in the Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday on behalf of one of McArdle's victim. He said other victims would lodge similar claims soon.

Mr Harrison said Bishop Heenan either knew the abuse had occurred and failed to give proper support to the victims, or should have known it.

After 68 year old McArdle was jailed earlier this month for six years after pleading guilty to numerous indecent dealing charges, Bishop Heenan renewed his apology and offer of support to victims.

"I have come to appreciate more and more what a devastating effect sexual abuse has on victims and their families, although only those victimised could really know the pain," he said.

Bishop Heenan also renewed his commitment to supporting victims and their families in whatever way was appropriate.

"I will offer whatever support I can. The needs of the victims are our primary concern. I cannot change the past, but a terrible tragedy has occurred here and we must now do what we can to support these people in their lives."

Meanwhile president of US Conference of Catholic bishops said earlier this week that a forthcoming study of the sexual abuse of children by the country's clergy in the past 50 years would likely produce "startling" numbers.

But Bishop Wilton Gregory cautioned no other comparable studies had been done for other areas such as schools, sports or the medical community.

He called for surveys in other sectors to put the results into perspective because pedophilia was not just a Catholic problem.

"The bishops really want to be honest with our people and say, "This is the data we want to share with you," he said.

"The numbers are going to be startling because they are going to be aggregate, over 50 years, and they will be startling because there is no context."

The National Review board of the Catholic Bishops Conference commissioned the study which will include information from all 195 American dioceses to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

The study is a compilation of information about offenders, victims, incidents of abuse, cost of therapy and legal fees.

Bishop told to quit (The Australian) - payment required
Church study on sex abuse "startling' (Reuters/The Star Toronto)

Diocese of Rockhampton | Bishop Brian Heenan
Rockhampton bishop renews apology to priest's victims (10/10/03)
Rockhampton bishop calls meetings to discuss church sex abuse (15/8/02)
Public apology for Rockhampton priest's sex abuse (17/6/02)
Church apologises to abuse victims (The Age)
Church apologises for abuse (The Courier-Mail)
Pope laments 'scandalous behaviour' of some priests (Ananova)
Towards Healing
Quinn & Scattini

22 Oct 2003