Priests call for change in abuse processes

Geelong priest Fr Kevin Dillon yesterday called on priests to stop trivialising sexual abuse allegations while Sydney's Fr Chris Riley says that the Church's Towards Healing process is a joke and should be scrapped.

Fr Chris Riley, who heads Youth Off The Streets, a Sydney welfare service that assists homeless, drug addicted and abused young people, said the Towards Healing program hurt the Church's credibility and meant victims often did not have their day in court, reports say.

He told the Nine Network that any family confronted with sexual abuse should go straight to the police and have the matter dealt with in court.

"Towards Healing, to me, I have to say, is a joke," he said.

"The perpetrator is the only winner there because often they are not charged, because it (the case) is settled.

"This is obscene, settling those sort of cases behind closed doors," Father Riley said.

"It should be out in the court, and then if they (victims) want to deal with the Church, we then do that after the person is ... found guilty, and my position is, jailed for a long time.

"Then, if they want to go to the Church, let's heal them then, but get justice first."

The Geelong Advertiser reports the regional city's top priest Fr Kevin Dillon yesterday spoke out against members of the clergy who have tried to trivialise sexual abuse allegations troubling the Church.

Fr Kevin Dillon said the attitude of some of his colleagues made him cringe with embarrassment.

"Sexual abuse can't be written off, it's never old, it's always fresh," he said.

"People have been violated, it has affected their families, their loved ones and it's turned their lives upside down."

Fr Dillon said the Catholic Church's reputation was at risk if people at the top trivialised sexual abuse claims and dodged questions.

"We should offer as much compassion as we can; we should be the ones binding up bonds, and not be the wounders," he said.

Fr Dillon also criticised the $50,000 cap put on compensation claims for sexual abuse victims.

"For most people it's a life sentence and I can never understand why compensation is capped, because each case is different," he said.

WYD coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher earlier told people to stop "dwelling crankily" over sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, Melbourne archdiocese abuse system probably saved the Catholic archdiocese more than $40 million that should have gone to victims, the father of two schoolgirls who were repeatedly raped by a priest suggested yesterday, The Age reports.

Anthony Foster said that only in Melbourne, under the system set up by now Sydney Archbishop George Pell, was compensation capped (at $50,000). There was no cap in the Towards Healing protocol that applied in the rest of the Catholic Church in Australia or in the civil courts.

"When we went to court — as invited to by Cardinal Pell — they settled for a much larger sum. It's all about saving money," Mr Foster said.

He suggested there had been at least 200 compensation cases in Melbourne at an average of $25,000. That should have been $400,000, which was $80 million, he said. Mr Foster and his wife, Christine, flew into Sydney yesterday to try to confront Cardinal Pell before World Youth Day on Sunday.

Their daughters were raped over five years at Sacred Heart Primary School in Oakleigh by a now dead priest, Kevin O'Donnell. One, Emma, killed herself in January. On Wednesday, World Youth Day coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher sparked controversy by suggesting some people were "dwelling crankily on old wounds" rather than delighting in the beauty and goodness of the young people at World Youth Day.

Bishop Fisher did not meet the media yesterday, but World Youth Day chief operating officer Danny Casey held a press conference away from the media centre and suggested Bishop Fisher's comments were "about how some of the media seeks to portray the church about abuse matters and shouldn't in any way suggest he is lacking in compassion."


Scrap sex abuse program - priest 

Father Kevin Dillon urges Church colleagues to stop trivialising sex abuse allegations

Sex abuse victims 'denied proper compensation'

Premier John Brumby urges sorry

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