Priest reportedly told students at a Melbourne primary school that if Meagher had been more ‘faith filled’ she would have been home and ‘not walking down Sydney Road at 3am’
• Church sorry for saying a ‘faith filled’ Jill Meagher would not have been murdered
A Catholic priest in Melbourne has reportedly been criticised for a speech in which he said Jill Meagher would have been at home instead of out on the night she was raped and killed if she was more “faith filled”.
Meagher was murdered by Adrian Bayley after a night out Melbourne in September 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison.
The priest delivered his homily at an end-of-term service for a Catholic primary school in Melbourne on Friday and radio station 3AW reported he held up a newspaper article with a picture of Bayley on it to make his point. The report says he told a crowd of about 100 that if Meagher had been more “faith filled” she would have been home and “not walking down Sydney Road at 3am”.
Meagher’s family were outraged by the report and said it was a “stupid thing to say”.
“Adrian Bayley was out there that night looking for a victim and found her,” Joan Meagher, Jill Meagher’s mother-in-law told the Irish Independent. “He was looking for anyone, it didn’t matter to him who the person was.
Thomas Meagher, Jill’s husband, put a statement on Facebook calling the comments “disgusting”.
“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child,” he wrote. “How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messages onto children is depressing. Shameful.”
The Catholic Church has apologised for the comments, the Age reports, with one official saying the church did not support the “totally inappropriate” and offensive” comments.
Monsignor Greg Bennett, vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne, went on radio to apologise.
“I’ve spoken with the priest; he acknowledges that the homily wasn’t appropriate and apologises for the offence and upset it has caused,” he told 3AW.
“The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death.
UPDATE: The Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne will introduce guidelines on Monday on “training and cultural understanding,” after apologising for the comments of one of its priests.