WATCHING local priests tie ribbons to church fences says a lot about the Loud Fence movement.
Previously, the issue of child abuse within the church had been a matter not to be talked about and kept in the dark.
However, the Loud Fence movement has been one which has been about showing community support for the survivors.
The people tying ribbons, some with connections to churches and others not, want to send a message to those survivors.
To say, ‘we understand it is tough and we want to see change and support you to get the closure you deserve’.
The movement, which has spread as far as the Vatican and New York City, has been one of the great successes to come during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
It has been an outlet for the community and an easy way for them to show support.
That is why the fact key religious figures are also joining the movement is huge for the overall journey the survivors are on throughout this entire process.
The next step is further support from the church and that means as far as Cardinal George Pell.
The church had frequently been criticised for not being as supportive of the survivors as they should, especially considering the horrible things that have been done in the past.
But there are members of the church now who have the opportunity to change that.
Yes, the current church hierarchy must be held accountable for the crimes committed and how they were handled by the church hierarchy of the past.
That means much of the criticism will always be leveled at Cardinal Pell due to his high ranking position.
This is an opportunity for Cardinal Pell to make a gesture of goodwill and support for those who have been hurt so badly by a system that let these crimes happen.
It is a simple gesture and one that would be easy for him to make.
The church is often criticised for its lack of compassion and care for the survivors and that has been demonstrated by the continued obduracy of a number of appearances by priests at the commission.
The problem with this approach is it reinforces impression of evasiveness of the church throughout the previous decades, where rather than openly addressing the crimes, seeking justice and helping victims it made defending itself the first priority. But the concealment is over.
Nothing could be more public than a Royal Commission. But this is also a chance to move on and Loud Fence is a community generated statement that shows how inclusive that future can be.
It shows, if in symbol only, how the church can show compassion and support those in need.
The tying of a simple ribbon to a fence is an easy first step that says so much more than it appears to.
It tells those survivors that the church is listening to their painful stories and, just as importantly, that they need to hear them.
Cardinal Pell should, in fact he must, support those survivors and here is the first step of many he should take.
It is obvious to the priest and community members who have already taken part. It should be obvious to him as well as the rest of the church.
Sometimes a simple gesture can say a thousand things, and this is Cardinal Pell’s chance to do so.