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Rockhampton bishop renews apology to priest's victims

Following Wednesday's sentencing of former priest Michael McArdle, Bishop Brian Heenan has renewed his apology and offer of support to victims.

Speaking on Behalf of the Diocese of Rockhampton, and on his own behalf, Bishop Heenan offered a profound apology for the injury that had been done to innocent lives.

"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.

68 year old McArdle, who sexually abused at least 16 children over 22 years, was jailed for six years, with Queensland District Court judge Warren Howell recommending that he serve one-third of the sentence.

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."

Bishop Heenan also renewed his call for any victim of abuse at the hands of church personnel in the Diocese to contact him so that support might be offered through the Church's Towards Healing process, through meeting with him or with Diocesan sexual abuse response co-ordinator, Mrs Margaret Tucker.

Meanwhile Pope John Paul II told bishops from the Philippines yesterday that the actions of a few priests have tainted the work of the entire clergy.

The Philippine bishops issued an apology for clergy sex abuse last year, pledging to take steps to protect the credibility of the Philippine church.

The Pope said yesterday that clergy must fully embrace "the esteemed gift of celibacy and all that involves" and that celibacy must be an integral part of their lives and not be seen merely as an ideal.

Bishop of Rockhampton
The Guardian/AP

Diocese of Rockhampton | Bishop Brian Heenan
Towards Healing
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)

10 Oct 2003