The St Patrick's Parish administrator, Father Justin Driscoll, has issued a statement on the ribbon-cutting incident.
"Today's removal of the ribbons from the Cathedral fence has not been authorised by me or anyone else from the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat," he said.
"Their removal has provoked a strong reaction from many who are understandably hurt and angered.
"The way forward can only be through genuine dialogue amongst people who seek to work together to ensure that survivors of child sexual abuse know that their experience is never forgotten, that institutions such as ours ensure that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is one of our greatest priorities and that justice for survivors is an essential dimension to healing.
"The ribbons serve to continually remind us of these critical issues and the ongoing impact within our community.
"For those of us within the Church they are a daily call to humility, remembering our past and recommitting ourselves to responding compassionately to the many affected by child sexual abuse."
Just hours after the incident, several people were seen tying ribbons back on the fence.
Jaida Wilson, from Lake Wendouree, said the ribbons should not have been removed.
"It's not so much about him, for me, as it is for the people who need it. I think there's a discussion that probably needs to be had around people like him who, even on The Courier post, were saying about time and so on," she said.
"I have a friend who was sexually assaulted as a child and I can't imagine and I don't think any of us could.
"We're not doing enough, this is the bare minimum.
"I probably take the fence for granted, to be honest, and so do other people and to see it bare is upsetting and disconcerting"
State upper house MP Stuart Grimley also condemned the incident.
"The Loud Fence ribbons on St Pat's Cathedral are a constant reminder of the atrocities that occurred there," he said in a statement.
"Survivors and families of victims hung those ribbons on the fence to heal, remember and move forward with their lives.
"It is disheartening and unacceptable, to see these symbolic ribbons being removed.
"I stand with the survivors, their families and the families of those who are no longer with us and encourage them to re-hang any removed ribbons."
Ballarat's community movement Loud Fence is again the subject of debate following one man's attempts to remove the memorial ribbons from the cathedral fence.
The man who used a knife to cut off ribbons from the St Patrick's Cathedral fence on Tuesday morning said he was aware of their significance and "wanted to start a conversation", before having a verbal altercation with a passer-by.
On Tuesday morning, the man, wearing a hi-vis jumper and using a knife, was seen removing ribbons from the cathedral's fence and placing them in a plastic bag - these ribbons are tied to represent survivors of child sexual abuse, part of the Loud Fence movement.
The man was approached by The Courier, and did not give a name.
He removed about 10 metres of ribbons from the Dawson Street fence.
READ MORE: Ballarat's Loud Fence movement turns five
He said he wanted to protect the fences, which he said were being damaged by the ribbons.
"They've been here two or three years, isn't that enough time?" he said.
He was asked if he had any affiliation with the church, and he declined to comment, saying he had heard 12 people supporting him cutting them down but four did not.
A passer-by then approached the man while he was speaking to The Courier, who asked him if he knew why the ribbons were on the fence - the man replied he did.
The passer-by said the ribbons would return by this evening.
The man and the passer-by had a verbal altercation while the knife was sheathed.
The man then returned to cutting off the ribbons, with the passer-by leaving shaking his head.
The man told The Courier he had started cutting off the ribbons near the ABC office "to start a conversation".
The Loud Fence ribbons are seen on churches, schools, and other institutions where sexual abuse was committed and covered up.
While some institutions have accepted they are part of the healing process for many survivors of sexual assault and their families, occasionally, they are removed without warning, causing community anger.
Loud Fence's Maureen Hatcher said she heard the news while arriving at a Continuous Voices workshop with survivors.
She said it was "crushing".
"Every time something like this happens, we take it in the guts, I'm just so frustrated," she said.
"Each of those ribbons means something - somebody has tied their ribbon for a reason - whether it's because they're a survivor themselves, or they know a survivor, or they don't even know a survivor but they understand that person's been through trauma and they want to support them.
"That's all they are, and they mean so much.
"I can't understand why people just want to cut them off and throw them in a bag.
"They wouldn't do that for Pink Ribbons for breast cancer, or red poppies for Anzac Day, and it's just as traumatic for survivors."
She noted the man's comments that he wanted to start a conversation - she said the ribbons are there to do exactly that.
"They're a visual show of support, but they're something to get people speaking about a subject that's really tough to speak about," she said.
"Unless we start having those real conversations, it's never going to happen, it's just going to be silent again like it was with the Catholic Church and other institutions.
"We can have these conversations without cutting ribbons down, which mean so much to so many people.
"I understand some people object to them or see them as a protest against their church - they take it very personally, but they have to understand the good that comes out of it."
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The ribbons will return, she promised.
"Every time one gets taken down, three or four more go up," she said.
"I imagine over the next few days you'll see more appear, they're all ready to go."
The Courier has contacted the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and is awaiting response.
Affected by this story? There is help available.
You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.
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