Pope announces prayer day for victims of sex abuse

Idea initiated by Vatican abuse commission panel

Pope Francis has announced plans for a worldwide day of prayer for the victims of sexual abuse, in line with a proposal from his child protection panel, reports AFP on Yahoo7. Plus the latest from the Royal Commission.

A commission of experts which advises Francis on efforts to combat clerical child sexual abuse, said the initiative had been made by an abuse survivor.

"The commission believes that prayer is one part of the healing process for survivors and the community of believers," a statement said. "Public prayer is also an important way of consciousness raising in the Church."

The move was announced after the latest week-long meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in Rome.

The announcement comes as the Chair of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse told a hearing in Sydney that 1659 matters had been passed on to police to consider for further investigation, reports the ABC.

"Because of the volume of references, the resources of the various police forces have been placed under significant pressure," Justice Peter McClellan told the hearing.

"I understand a great many references are awaiting investigation, or the investigations are underway but not complete." Prosecutions have been brought against 71 people.

Justice McClellan said the commission had received information about more than 4000 institutions, but it was impossible to hold public hearings into all of them.

Fairfax Media reports that the inquiry heard yesterday that senior members of the Church were first informed a priest had molested young boys in 1984 but he continued to move around parishes in NSW for almost a decade before being suspended.

The inquiry is holding a public hearing into former priest John Joseph Farrell who was jailed for a minimum term of 18 years in May after being found guilty of a string of sexual offences against children.

The commission's hearing will examine how the Dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta responded to claims against Farrell as well as the role of the Church's Special Issues Resource Group, set up to deal with criminal allegations.

In her opening address, senior counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness said Farrell's offences first came to light when he was a priest in Moree in 1984.

When Farrell was confronted with the allegations, the commission heard he admitted to Church officials "he had done something stupid".

Ms Furness told the commission Farrell was treated by psychologist Gary Boyle, declaring himself "a new man" after one session. Dr Boyle found that, "Farrell did not present as a man with true paedophilia", the commission heard.

Farrell was moved to Tamworth and then to Merrylands and Kenthurst in Sydney.

In 1990, Fr John Usher, then a priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney, raised concerns about Farrell, the commission heard.

"Fr Usher came to a different conclusion from that of Mr Boyle," Ms Furness said. "He offered the opinion that Farrell's ongoing need to spend time with children was a matter of grave concern."

The former priest was found guilty of 79 child abuse offences against 12 victims in May. Last week, the 63-year-old was charged with fresh offences with a trial set down for April next year.

TRUTH JUSTICE AND HEALING COUNCIL Update 116 - Royal Commission - Farrell - Day 1

FULL COVERAGE

Catholic Church to have prayer day for sex abuse victims (AFP/Yahoo7)

Francis approves day of prayer for survivors of sex abuse (CNS/The Tablet)

Church aware of priest's offences against children (Fairfax Media)

Child-sex cleric told leading priests about his abuse of boys (The Australian)

Church gave paedophile priest a new start (AAP/Nine News)

Police 'under pressure' after 1,659 cases flagged for investigation (ABC)

Royal commission to wind down public hearings (Fairfax Media/Moree Champion)

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