Clergy abuse crisis 'won't blow over'

SOME church leaders have yet to grasp how deeply and permanently the clergy sexual abuse crisis has damaged the Catholic Church, a Melbourne priest said yesterday.

Tony Kerin said he was sure that Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart was sincere in his compassion for abuse victims, ''but I'm not sure that some church leaders have got it yet … They haven't understood that we can't fix this problem. We can manage it, but it's not going to blow over. This is the new normal, dealing with wounded people in the community and dealing with the fact that some of our despicable brothers were the perpetrators.''

Father Kerin, Melbourne's episcopal vicar for social justice, attended yesterday's seminar for victims of abuse to identify with them. ''It's hard because as [Sydney] Bishop [Julian] Porteous found out last week, when people pray for victims it is seen as patronising. We can't pray for these people until we weep with them.''

At the seminar survivor Tony Hersbach gave a powerful account of his long-term abuse by a Melbourne priest, Victor Rubeo.

Father Kerin said he played cards weekly with Father Rubeo for 15 years without a hint that he was an abuser. ''I get really angry when I hear stories like Tony's … I didn't pick up on anything of this when it was happening,'' he said.

The story Clergy abuse crisis 'won't blow over' first appeared on The Age.

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