The bishop organising World Youth Day, Anthony Fisher, made the remarks in response to questions about two Melbourne women who were repeatedly raped by priest Kevin O’Donnell when they were pupils at Sacred Heart Primary School in Oakleigh from 1988 to 1993.
Abuse by priests has traumatic and sometimes fatal consequences:
Emma Foster committed suicide this year, aged 26, after a long battle with drug addiction, while Katherine drank heavily before being left disabled when hit by a drunk driver in 1999.
But such trivialities do not deter the relentlessly upbeat Bishop Fisher:
The case was detailed on ABC’s Lateline on Tuesday, but Bishop Fisher told the World Youth Day daily media briefing that he had not seen the program. “Happily, I think most of Australia was enjoying, delighting in, the beauty and goodness of these young people … rather than dwelling crankily, as a few people are doing, on old wounds,” he said.
I had hoped that perhaps that Pope Benedict has a human heart. But perhaps not:
The head of the Vatican’s press office has moved to pour cold water on expectations the Pope will offer an apology for clergy sex abuse while in Australia.
Reverend Federico Lombardi said he believed Pope Benedict XVI had not given a commitment to apologise to victims of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, or to their families.
Any reference to the abuse issue by the Pope may also come in the form of a “statement” only, Rev Lombardi said.
“There is a problem understanding the meaning of apology,” he told reporters, through an interpreter, in Sydney.
“I do not recall that he (the pontiff) declared that he would make an apology, but I do not know, perhaps I did not understand properly.
“So, I would suggest that you keep following what the Holy Father says. If the apology happens, all the better. But I would not anticipate that the Holy Father would give an apology.”
Such are our shepherds.