ON the eve of his much anticipated evidence to the Royal Commission, Cardinal George Pell has made a gesture of support for victims by taking the Loud Fence movement into the heart of Vatican
The Ballarat generated movement that expresses support for victims of sexual abuse by tying colourful ribbons to fences has spread to cities across the world but this is its first step into the Catholic Church’s Rome headquarters.
While schools and clergy across the Ballarat Diocese including Bishop Paul Bird have joined the movement, Ballart born Cardinal George Pell is the highest ranked clergyman to make the gesture so far.
In a quiet area of the Vatican Gardens at the Lourdes Grotto, Cardinal Pell tied a yellow ribbon supporting the Loud Fence campaign in support of victims of sexual abuse.
In a statement from his office it said Cardinal Pell went to the grotto with the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes the day before the hearing began to pray for all survivors of sexual abuse.
“I am aware of the Loud Fence movement and how it has grown rapidly. This is my gesture of support, especially for the people of Ballarat,” Cardinal Pell said.
“I think this is an entirely appropriate place to place a ribbon of support and prayed for all survivors of abuse here. I hope the coming days will eventually lead to healing for everyone.”
Cardinal Pell said although it may only appear a symbol, it is a sign of support and solidarity he hopes people will accept.
Ribbons of support have also appeared on the wooden barricades around St Peter’s Square but none within the Vatican itself.
Ironically similar ribbons were removed on Friday due to church policy from St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, where Cardinal Pell was Archbishop in the 1990’s.
Victims who have gathered in Rome to hear the Cardinals evidence late on Sunday ( Rome) are eagerly anticipating whether this gesture will convert into frank admissions with the Commission on the culture within the Church that led to decades of sexual abuse of children.