UPDATE – RIBBONS RETURNED:
Survivors of institutional abuse and supporters have filled the ‘loud fence’ at Ballarat’s St Patrick’s Cathedral with new ribbons after they were cut down on Monday.
The ribbons were tied to the fence as a reminder of the survivors and victims of sexual abuse carried out by the Catholic Church.
Survivor Phil Nagle pointed blame at parishioners of St Patrick’s Church for taking down the ribbons.
“The cathedral, being the head of the snake, have now had their parishioners come along and take the ribbons down,” he said.
“They are ashamed of what they have done and what their church has done.”
Watch Mr Nagles full interview here:
Mr Nagle said people will continue to replace ribbons until they feel the church takes responsibility for past crimes and honours the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
“It’s very much a sign of our resilience, they want us to go away but we are not going to go away, we will just keep coming back and tying the ribbons up; they need to leave them alone,” he said.
“Any discussion about removal of the ribbons should take place once the church has implemented all the recommendations from the royal commission.
“That’s the time to talk about moving forward but the church just want to hide it all and they don’t want people questioning why the ribbons are there.”
However, Ballarat’s Vicar-General denied the church or parishioners were involved with removing the ‘loud fence’ ribbons.
EARLIER – CHURCH DENIES INVOLVEMENT:
The Ballarat Diocese Vicar-General has lashed out at the unknown people who removed hundreds of coloured ribbons from the fence of St Patrick’s Cathedral on Monday night.
The ribbons were prominently displayed on the fence as a reminder of the survivors and victims of sexual abuse carried out by members of the Catholic Church.
Vicar-General Justin Driscoll said he was shocked to find the ribbons removed from the fence when we arrived at the church.
“It's very disappointing,” he said
“The removal of the ribbons not authorised by me, by the bishop, or anyone in the leadership of the church.
“We know it’s quite inflammatory and we understand it’s really provoked some anger.”
Father Driscoll said he had no idea who would have removed the ribbons but he would be reminding parishioners that the church’s view is the ribbons should remain in place.
“No has spoken to me indicating they would be removed and we just don’t know who would have but it was definitely done without our endorsement,” he said.
“There is no CCTV on the street side where the fence is.
“We will be reminding our parishioners that the ribbons are to remain until such a point when we are able to bring people to different views to genuinely dialogue about it.”
Loud Fence founder Maureen Hatcher said the sight of the bare fence was a horrible thing to see.
“To be honest I felt pretty sad at first and it is pretty disheartening for this to keep happening and to have it happen in such a huge way,” she said.
“There are only a scattering of ribbons left; it’s disappointing, frustrating, and all of those things and I don’t understand why.”
Mr Hatcher said she understands the reminder of the historic abuse can be distressing for some but also said they are an important symbol to those who suffered.
“I understand anything can trigger people and I certainly understand and believe that but I know these ribbons are so important to so many people and survivors and I really do see them as a symbol of hope,” she said.
A rally at the cathedral has been organised for midday today and Ms Hatcher is encouraging the Ballarat community to come along a replace the ribbons that have been removed.
We may be disheartened but they can’t take out hearts away.Maureen Hatcher
“We are hoping as many people today will tie some ribbons on, well today or at any time,” she said.
“It’s important to let survivors and victims, and their families, know we are still supporting them.