Sex abuse victim wants apology from Pope

ERIC Flessig wants Pope Benedict XVI to say sorry for the abuse he says he suffered at the hands of a former Lismore priest.

However, the church has refused his request to meet with the Pope while he is in Sydney this week.

Mr Fleissig, who is in Mackay while he trains to become a volunteer ambulance officer, said he was sexually abused at Tweed Heads' Futcher House youth refuge between 1982 and 1985 by former Lismore priest Father Paul Rex Brown.

Fr Brown died in 2005.

Lismore Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett was in Sydney yesterday and not available for comment.

Mr Fleissig said church officials at the time interrogated him and another boy before asking them to leave the church's care.

He also said that Fr Brown, who was convicted of child pornography offences in 1996, had been moved to Tweed Heads from Lismore amid allegations of sexual abuse.

His lawyer, Rebecca Jancauskas, from Shine Lawyers, said Fr Brown was believed to be facing further criminal charges when he died in 2005.

Mr Fleissig said that as a teenager he had been homeless and the priest had opened up his presbytery to him.

He said that he wrote to Pope Benedict last year about the alleged sexual abuse and asked to meet with him during World Youth Day.

A year later he received letters from the Lismore Catholic Diocese and Cardinal George Pell saying he could not meet with the Pope because it was short notice.
A high-ranking member of the Lismore Diocese said he understood Mr Fleissig's request had arrived only this week.

Mr Fleissig said the Pope should apologise. 'Not receiving recognition from the Pope is%devastating,' he said.

Mr Fleissig said he sought help from the Catholic Church through the Towards Healing Program and, later, through the Broken Rites support group for victims of abuse in the church.

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