A senior Victorian Catholic priest has loudly proclaimed his solidarity with clergy sex abuse survivors.
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Following a trend in church leaders joining Ballarat’s Loud Fence movement, acclaimed clergy child sex abuse advocate, Father Kevin Dillon, tied bright coloured ribbons to the gates of St Mary’s Basilica in Geelong on Monday in support of victims. It comes days after Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird tied ribbons at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will return to the city next month as it continues to investigate the Catholic Church’s failings in recognising and responding to child sexual abuse.
However, Father Dillon said crucial element missing the from evidence given by clergy so far: Repentance.
“What I would like to see at the next hearing is genuine repentance from clergy leaders for what has been done and the suffering it caused,” Father Dillon said. “Jesus himself said “the truth will set you free” and in this instance, it could not be truer.”
Father Dillon urged people to tie their own ribbons at parishes across Victoria in support of victims. He hoped the basilica’s 300 metre long fence would soon be filled.
"My experience is the vast mob of ordinary people and active Catholics are very much in solidarity with victims,” Father Dillon said. “As far as they are concerned this should have never happened anywhere.”
The Geelong priest was joined by sexual abuse survivor Chris Pianto. Ballarat is often seen as an epicentre of clergy child sexual abuse and Mr Pianto said Geelong shared many parallels with the city.
Mr Pianto asked Father Dillon to join the campaign in support of the many victims still reeling from the abuse they suffered at schools and Catholic institutions across Geelong.
“This movement is a way for them (clergy) to show they stand with victims and don’t condone they way the church handled the situation,” he said.
The campaign began in Ballarat last year and has since gone viral with Loud Fences created all over the world including at the gates of the Vatican.
Father Dillon hoped past Ballarat clergy Cardinal George Pell and Bishop Ronald Mulkearns would be well enough to give evidence at the hearing next month after both were deemed too sick by doctors to appear at the inquiry last year. But he said their admissions were not crucial to decipher the truth.
"With each piece of evidence presented along the way the picture of what happened is already fairly clear,” Father Dillon said.
Loud Fence is holding a fundraiser to raise money for a Centre Against Sexual Assault Men Survivors Group for survivors in Sunbury. A screening of the movie Spotlight will be shown on Thursday at the Regent Cinema, Lydiard Street, at 6.30pm. The film details a real-life investigation into widespread child abuse in Boston.Tickets cost $20 and are available at Woolshed Clothing, 48 Armstrong Street North Ballarat or.the Loud Fence Facebook page.
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