Victims slam plan to move memorial

New memorial: Armidale Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Kennedy will move ribbons from the town’s Catholic Cathedral and place them on a new memorial.A petition against relocatingLoud Fence ribbonsat the Armidale Catholic Cathedral is gaining momentum online.

Sexual abuse victim and Loud Fence advocate, Phil Wright, started the petitionto protestBishop Michael Kennedy’s decision to relocate the ribbons from the front of the cathedralto within the church grounds.

“As a victim of sexual abuse through the Catholic Church in Armidale DioceseI am extremely offended and that is putting it as politely as I could ever put it,” Mr Wright said.

“He’s got no right to touch them.”

Bishop Michael Kennedy said the decision was made in response to some survivors of abuse who found the public display confronting.

“I’mvery sensitive to this issue and do understand their concerns,” he said.

LOUD FENCE: The ribbons tied to the Church’s front fence by survivors of child sex abuse. Photo: Breanna Chillingworth

Loud Fence spokeswoman Alison Armstrong said thesite of the new memorial was onthe same ground as the grave of a bishopwho was overseeing the diocese at the time of the abuses.

The royal commissionexposed then-Bishop HenryKennedy’sknowledge of what happenedin the diocese in relationto Armidale priest John Farrell.

“He was aware of complaints and was part of the concealment,” Ms Armstrong said.

“We’re talking about people who are really damaged and they see this as another layer of offence.

“[They see] removing the ribbons as another attempt to marginalise or silence them.”

Bishop Kennedy has defended the decision.

“It’s on the opposite side of the cathedral [to the bishop’s grave] and that was deliberately done out of sensitivity,” he said.

“I’m aware alsothat there is some concern that the site we’ve chosen is hidden butthat is not the case.

“The positioning is along the side the cathedral which is a heavy traffic area.”

Mr Wright urged that theaction was inappropriate when case study 44, regarding incidences of sexual abuse within the diocese, was still an open case before the Royal Commission.

“I spoke to the bishopfor about an hour and a half[about Farrell]on that same pathway they are putting the memorial on …it is so highly offensive to put it in the groundsbut to put it there is even worse,” Mr Wright said.

Bishop Kennedy said he hopedthememorial would be accepted by all.

“I and the Catholic Diocese of Armidale will never forget the horror victims have experienced and the lasting impact on their lives,” Mr Kennedy said.

The petition has received more than 300 signatures in 48 hours and aimsto reach a further 300 before beingpresentedto the Royal Commission, Cardinal George Pell, andPope Francis.

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