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Archbishop apologises to Australian abuse victims

International Desk |
Update: 2010-07-02 13:27:17

SYDNEY: The head of the Catholic Church in Melbourne has offered an "unreserved apology" to victims of sexual abuse by priests, a report said Saturday.

Archbishop Denis Hart says in a letter to be read out at services across the city over the weekend that recent abuse scandals have brought shame upon the Church, the AAP news agency reported.

"How can we Catholics not be shocked and shamed?" Archbishop Hart asks, adding that in the past 14 years about 300 people have been compensated as victims of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese, although most of the attacks occurred decades ago.

"As Archbishop of Melbourne, I once again express my deep sorrow and offer a sincere and unreserved apology to all victims of sexual abuse and to their families," he adds.

During his visit to Sydney in July 2008, Pope Benedict XVI apologised to victims of child abuse by priests in Australia after a rash of cases came to light in recent years.

An Australian Catholic priest was sentenced Friday to almost 20 years in jail for child sex attacks which a judge said were sadistic and went unpunished for many years.

John Sidney Denham, 67, was sentenced by a Sydney court to 19 years and 10 months after pleading guilty to a range of charges, including multiple counts of indecent assault against boys aged five to 16.

BDST: 8:37 HRS, July 3, 2010

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