Ribbons for sex abuse survivors make statement at Perth church ahead of Cardinal Pell funeral

Ribbons for sex abuse survivors make statement at Perth church ahead of Cardinal Pell funeral

Child sexual abuse survivors and their supporters hung ribbons on the fence of a Perth church today in a show of solidarity ahead of Cardinal George Pell’s funeral in Sydney later this week.

“Today is a trigger,” said survivor Pamela Moore, who then broke down as she was overcome with emotion at an event outside St Mary’s Catholic Church in the WA capital.

Key points: Ribbons were hung at St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth today in a show of support for victims of child sex abuse The statement comes as the Catholic Church prepares for the funeral of Cardinal George Pell in Sydney on Thursday. A royal commission found Cardinal Pell knew about sex abuse claims but failed to act appropriately, a finding he rejected

Streams of colorful ribbons, tied to the church fence to recognize survivors of child sexual abuse, drifted in the wind behind her.

“I think the ribbons represent their innocence,” she said.

Ms Moore was part of a group of survivors and their supporters gathered outside Perth Cathedral as the Catholic church prepares for the funeral of Cardinal George Pell in Sydney on Thursday.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia found Pell was aware of child abuse by clergy in the 1970s but failed to take appropriate action.

At the time, the cardinal said the findings were “not supported by evidence.”

Jarrod Luscombe said Cardinal Pell’s death was difficult for survivors.

“I know for many survivors, including myself, the trial of Pell’s death was certainly a trigger,” Mr Luscombe said.

“And talking to a lot of survivors, they’ve had a big fight these past few weeks.”

Pam Day was among the group of supporters who hung ribbons on the fence of St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth. (ABC Radio Perth: Alicia Bridges)

The act of hanging ribbons on church fences has become a way of showing solidarity with victims of institutional child sexual abuse following the royal commission and conviction of pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale in Ballarat, Victoria.

Mr Luscombe said the ribbons also give voice to the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves.

“So many of them have been suffering in silence for so long – for most of their lives – and the adverse effects on their health are detrimental,” he said.

“So we really want to bring it to the forefront so that the public is fully aware that the amount of childhood sexual abuse survivors out there [is] massive.

“We have to find better ways to help the survivors.”

People first started hanging ribbons as part of the LOUD Fence Inc initiative in Ballarat.

Ribbons tied to the fence outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney have been removed several times this week.

Survivor Paul Auchettl told ABC Ballarat he thought they were being removed by either employees of the church or “faithful supporters of George Pell who believe we are desecrating the church”.

Mr Auchettl said people tying ribbons had received verbal and physical threats from Cardinal Pell’s supporters.

Supporters and survivors hung ribbons on the fence in honor of survivors of child sexual abuse. (ABC Radio Perth: Alicia Bridges)

In Perth, Father Sean Fernandez came from St Mary’s Cathedral to speak to survivors who tied ribbons on the fence on Tuesday.

Mr Fernandez, the dean of the cathedral, said clergy would respect the memorial and remain committed to working for justice and making the church a safer place.

He described sexual abuse of children as a “stain” on the Catholic Church’s history.

“If someone does something wrong [now]there is no tolerance,” he said.

He said church leaders in Perth had prayed for Cardinal Pell’s soul, but there would not be a celebration of his life like the funeral in Sydney.

It will not be a state funeral, but a statement from Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral Dean, Father Don Richardson, said it would be “one of the most important funerals” ever held there.

“Here it’s not the same celebration, we called Cardinal Pell and prayed for his repose as we do for anyone,” Mr Ferndandez said.

“And leave the rest to the judgment of God and try to be here for those who are hurting. That’s our priority.”

Ms Moore said there must be “no more silence” about historic crimes.

“My heart goes out to all survivors, those who didn’t make it, and those who are still struggling,” Ms Moore said.

“We must address it and never forget it.”

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