Australia: Father of two girls raped by priest demands morally bankrupt Pell begs forgiveness
Sydney Morning Herald ~~ Wednesday July 16 2008
, grieving father to tell PellBy Tom Arup
THE parents of two girls who were repeatedly raped by a Melbourne priest are flying to Sydney from London to face Cardinal George Pell in time for Sunday's World Youth Day final Mass.
Anthony Foster, whose daughters were raped by Kevin O'Donnell when they were in primary school, alleges Cardinal Pell stalled the family's compensation claim against the Catholic Church when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
Earlier this year, the eldest daughter, Emma, took her own life after a long battle with drug addiction, which Mr Foster attributed directly to her rape as a schoolgirl. His second daughter, Katherine, who developed a heavy drinking habit, was hit by a drunk driver in 1999 and left physically and mentally disabled and requiring 24-hour care.
Last night, Mr Foster told the ABC's Lateline program that last week's revelations that Cardinal Pell allegedly obstructed a sexual abuse case against another priest had sparked him into action.
He said he hoped he could support others with sexual abuse claims and change the church's attitudes to compensating victims.
"I want them to set up a system that provides a life-time help to victims, that begs forgiveness to victims," Mr Foster said.
Mr Foster said an apology by the Pope to victims of sexual abuse in the church would not be satisfactory unless it was backed up by structural change.
"An apology is not enough unless it is backed up with action, unless he removes all obstacles to continuing support for victims," Mr Foster said.
"They should come to us and beg for forgiveness."
His daughters were raped over five years by O'Donnell when they attended Sacred Heart Primary School in Oakleigh between 1988 and 1993.
In 1996 O'Donnell was convicted of abusing 11 boys and one girl, aged between 8 and 14, between 1946 and 1977, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He died after his release in 1997.
Initially offered $50,000 by Cardinal Pell under his "Towards Healing" program, the Fosters pursued their case via the legal system for eight years, culminating in a six-figure settlement with the church in 2006 - one of the largest of its kind in the country.
In 1998, when Emma was 16, Cardinal Pell wrote to her, saying: "It is my hope that my offer will be accepted by you as a preferable alternative to legal proceedings and that it too will assist you with your future."
"On behalf of the Catholic Church and personally, I apologise to you and to those around you for the wrongs and hurt you have suffered at the hands of Father Kevin O'Donnell. I offer you my prayers."
Mr Foster last night claimed this apology was removed by lawyers for the church in 2002 during the court case over compensation.
"Emma carried the pain of her abuse for all her life until it ended recently," he told the ABC. "We really want to make sure that in her name and her memory something is done for other victims."
A spokesman said the church did not have enough time to respond to the story last night or whether Cardinal Pell or the Pope will meet Mr Foster.
Last week Cardinal Pell was accused by Anthony Jones of attempting to cover up a non-consensual sexual experience with Father Terrence Goodall, by ignoring the results of a church investigation.
Cardinal Pell denies the accusations and has referred the case to an independent panel.