Priest apologises for ‘idiotic’ comments on Jill Meagher

A Catholic priest in Australia has apologised to the family of Jill Meagher after he told primary school children the Irish woman that if she had been “more faith-filled” she would have been at home in bed the night she was raped and murdered.

Priest apologises for ‘idiotic’ comments on Jill Meagher

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne had already apologised for the remarks which were described as “idiotic” by the family of Ms Meagher.

The 29-year-old Irish woman was raped and murdered by Adrian Ernest Bayley in Melbourne in 2012. Bayley is now serving a life sentence for the crime and was recently sentenced over three more rapes he committed.

In the Melbourne suburb of Airport West last week, Fr Joseph Olickal held up an article about Bayley as he told a Holy Communion class Ms Meagher would not have been walking down the road at 3am if she had more faith.

Fr Olickal yesterday apologised for his comments and agreed they were idiotic.

“I am very remorseful it came out like that, I am very apologetic and I ask for pardon, I apologise sincerely, especially to all the Irish people and especially to all those for whom Jill Meagher has been and is so dear,” he told RTÉ radio.

“I take the [‘idiotic’] comment no problem, I am humble. When I came to know she was a nice Irish Catholic I felt very sad about the comment.”

Attempting to explain his remarks, he said: “I have several dreams for young people to live safely. I have only dreams of a better world, a safer place for people, nothing of condemnation for Jill. My point was let’s all create a better world to live, a safe world.

“I made a mention of Bayley and I condemned the acts and then I said that particular comment, I’m sure it was very poor on my part to mention it; it was a passing comment, it was this way… just like that man who did that heinous crime, if we all had Jesus as part of our life, we would need to be back home by 11pm and have a good sleep.

“Then I referred this would not happen like it happened to Jill, that was the sense of my message but perhaps when I coined the words I made the mistake. To be frank, I don’t remember the words I used.

“There was no anti- feminist element, no condemnation, it was a subtle passing comment. I wasn’t blaming the victim, I had condemned the act of Bayley several times in the past.”

Ms Meagher’s husband Thomas called the priest’s comments “disgusting”.

“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child.

“How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messa- ges on to children is depressing. Shameful.”

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