Wellington Cardinal John Dew reiterated his support for the “Loud Fences” movement where coloured ribbons are hung on the fences of churches as well as schools to show support for the victims of clergy abuse.
In a letter to the parishioners of the Palmerston North diocese dated September 22, Cardinal Dew said putting ribbons on fences and creating “loud fences” is “part of a valid and important way to work through the healing process. Cardinal Dew is the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese.
Cardinal Dew said his message needs to be passed on to the community.
“Sometimes people have not been aware of the significance of the ‘Loud Fences’ and have removed the ribbons,” he said. “Removing the ribbons can be viewed as deeply disrespectful to survivors/victims and can be retraumatising.”
The cardinal reminded people in the parishes to be respectful of the process.
“This is an important opportunity for the Church to accompany survivors/victims through this journey,” Cardinal Dew said.
The Loud Fences movement started in Ballarat in Australia in 2015, outside the former St Alipius Boys’ School site, where appalling acts of child sexual abuse had taken place. The movement’s founder was a local woman, Maureen Hatcher. People were invited to tie ribbons to the fence at the site in support of abuse victims.
The movement has spread across the world, including to New Zealand, where it started in 2018.
In a number of parishes, when the movement was not sufficiently known at that point in time, the ribbons were discarded, much to the dismay of the survivors/victims, who took the action as the Church disregarding them.
“If people have doubts, please explain the significance of ‘Loud Fences’ and how helpful this can be for those who have suffered from abuse,” Cardinal Dew said.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is planning a ribbon-tying event at St Patrick’s church in Napier on October 24.
Cardinal Dew wrote a letter about the Loud Fences movement to priests and lay pastoral leaders in Wellington archdiocese in July, 2019.