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“Why I apologised”: Archbishop Anthony Fisher

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney gives his speech at a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 4. Archbishop Fisher in his speech apologised to young people for “the shameful deeds” of some clergy. PHOTO: CNS/Vatican Media

In a press conference last night given in Rome, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP explained why he decided to use his scheduled intervention at the Synod on Youth to apologise “from the bottom of my heart” to young people for the Church’s many sins against them.

He said the experience in Australia of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, along with the abuse crises faced by the Catholic Church other countries in recent years, had made him “very aware” of their pain.

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“There are a lot of young people hurting, or were young when they were hurt, and others whose trust is terribly damaged, and I felt that the Church has to speak directly to them, not just about them as a phenomenon,” he said.

“They’re real live people who need to hear how sorry we are, how much we want to help and how determined we are to go forward as a Church.”

The Archbishop, who this week was elected to be a member of the Synod’s information commission, said he was “quite convinced” this is the common view among the Synod bishops and that in formally apologising to young people he was giving a voice “not just to the bishops but to Catholics more generally.”

On 4 October Archbishop Fisher spoke in the presence of Pope Francis and the Synod bishops of the “shameful deeds of some priests, religious and lay people” perpetrated upon young people along with the failure of bishops and others to respond appropriately when abuse was identified.

He also apologised for poor catechesis, preaching, and guidance, and “unbeautiful and unwelcoming liturgies”.

He urged them to “never to give up on Jesus because of our failures”, or on the Church which they can “help make more faithful”.

For all updates on the Synod on Youth click here.

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