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Pope's Australia sex abuse apology not enough -- critics


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 13:26:00 07/19/2008

Filed Under: Churches (organisations), Crime, Youth

SYDNEY -- Pope Benedict XVI's apology for sex abuse by Australian clergymen does not go far enough to address the problems of victims, critics said Saturday.

The pope earlier apologized fully to victims of predatory priests for the first time, saying in a homily in a Sydney cathedral he was "deeply sorry" and calling for perpetrators of the "evil" to be brought to justice.

But Broken Rites, a victims' support group staging demonstrations during the pope's visit for World Youth Day celebrations which have brought 200,000 pilgrims to Sydney, said the apology was inadequate.

"Sorry may be a start but we want to see a lot more," spokeswoman Chris MacIsaac said.

"We want the victims to be treated fairly, we don't want them to feel that they have been shut out, we don't want them to be re-abused by church authorities," she said.

The parents of two daughters abused by a priest in Melbourne described the apology as disappointing.

Anthony and Christine Foster had returned from a British holiday in the hope of meeting the pope to press for better treatment for victims.

The Fosters' daughter Emma committed suicide this year aged 26, after struggling to deal with abuse by a Melbourne priest at a primary school.

Her sister Katie, who was also abused, turned to alcohol in her teens and was left brain-damaged after being hit by a car while drunk.

Anthony Foster said the couple's first reaction to the papal apology was disappointment.

"They are only words -- the same thing we've been hearing for 13 years. It is simply an apology, there is nothing practical there which is what we were looking for," he said.

At a Sydney demonstration against Catholic church policies, Wayne Elliott, who said he was a victim of child abuse but not by priests, also condemned the apology as insufficient.

"It is frankly not worth the paper it is written on. They need to do far more than that and they should have apologized a long time before," he said.

But the apology received support from the Premier of the state of New South Wales Morris Iemma, who told Sky News he hoped the apology would be a turning point.

"Hopefully it will be a sign of righting the wrongs of the past and of a better future and better treatment by the church of the victims and their families, said Iemma.

Broken Rites says 107 Catholic priests and religious brothers have been sentenced in Australian courts on sex charges, and Australian bishops apologized for past abuses in 2002.



Copyright 2014 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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