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Australian bishop apologizes for priestly abuse, urges victims to call police

July 23, 2010

An Australian bishop has issued a pastoral letter in which he offers a “sincere apology to those who have suffered abuse at the hands of a member of the clergy or indeed, any person representing the Catholic Church, particularly one who was ministering in the name of the Diocese of Wollongong.”

“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry,” wrote Bishop Peter Ingham in his July 17 pastoral letter, which was read at all parishes during Sunday Mass. “I recognize that abuse is not confined to the Church, however, abuse by clergy constitutes a grave betrayal of the sacred trust that was placed in them as priests and deserves unequivocal condemnation. It can seriously undermine or even destroy the victims' trust and belief in a gracious God, perhaps for their entire lifetime.”

“I apologize too, to you, the people of the Diocese, and to the wider community,” he continued. “The recent consultations … have given you the opportunity to voice your pain, confusion, shame and legitimate anger that such abuse has occurred, and that Church leaders have been slow to address it with justice and transparency. In this, the Church leadership has failed you and, as part of that leadership, I am deeply sorry. For me personally, and for the majority of priests who seek to live their commitment with integrity and to serve you with dedication, this is one of the saddest times of our priesthood.”

“As I have done previously, I strongly urge any person with a complaint of mistreatment or abuse to come forward to the appropriate authority,” he added. “If the complaint is of a criminal nature, I ask you to notify the police. If it is not of a criminal nature or if you need assistance in dealing with a matter that is criminal, I invite and encourage you to telephone the Catholic Church's Towards Healing Helpline … or to contact my office.”


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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 24, 2010 10:26 AM ET USA

    Just delightful.... Somewhat like Polycarp and/or Ambrose telling the ancient Catholics in the catacombs that if there was "heinous sin" to call for the Praetorians.