One of Australia's most senior archbishops has apologised to victims of sexual abuse by priests, condemning the behaviour and the Catholic Church's failure to properly deal with the problem. Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne, sent the message to all churches in more than 200 parishes in the southern state of Victoria.
Catholic church leaders in Australia have long condemned abuse by priests in interviews and statements, but rarely addressed the problem in such forthright terms in sermons or other messages delivered in church.
"The scourge of sexual abuse continues to cause great distress and in many cases a crisis of faith amongst Catholics," the cleric told worshippers at St Patrick's cathedral in Melbourne. "Every week seems to bring fresh scandals as victims of abuse speak publicly of what they and their families have suffered. I express my deep sorrow and offer a sincere and unreserved apology to all those victims who have suffered the pain and humiliation of sexual abuse and to their families."