Marlene Burgess at her Ballina home.
Marlene Burgess at her Ballina home. Brenden Allen

Victim sad she didn't meet Pope

THE Catholic Church has been accused of 'hand-picking' four victims of clergy sex abuse for a secretive meeting with the Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI met the victims and their supporters after holding a private Mass for them at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney early Monday morning, before he flew out of Australia.

The Vatican said the Pontiff held the meeting to reiterate his deep concern following his apology to sex abuse victims on Saturday.

“He listened to their stories and offered them consolation,” the Vatican said in a statement.

“Assuring them of his spiritual closeness, he promised to continue to pray for them, their families and all victims.”

The 30-minute meeting was not made public until after it had occurred, but Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell said it had been weeks in the planning.

Dr Pell said the two men and two women who met with the Pontiff had wanted to remain anonymous.

“Many, many hundreds of people have contacted me wanting to meet the Pope ... I wasn't able to accommodate all of them,” he said.

Ballina sex abuse victim Marlene Burgess said she was impressed with the Pope's visit and was pleased to see him address the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

“I am pleased the Pope has made the time to meet with some victims, but I am disappointed that I was not one of them,” she said.

“It would have been good for those victims who did meet with him, to help them move on. And that is what the whole thing was all about.”



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