An Australian Catholic priest is facing criticism after a homily at a Catholic primary school, in which he blamed a lack of faith for the 2012 rape and murder of Jill Meagher in Melbourne, Australia.
According to reports, the Catholic priest was delivering a homily during the end-of-term service at a Catholic school in Melbourne when he held up a newspaper with a picture of Adrian Bayley, the man who viciously raped and murdered Meagher in 2012, to teach a lesson. The priest reportedly told the crowd that Meagher wouldn’t have been raped and murdered, and instead would have been “home in bed” if she had been more “faith filled” and not walking outside at three in the morning.
Following the priest’s comments, Meagher’s family said they were disgusted at how he could blame the woman for what happened to her.
“Adrian Bayley was out there that night looking for a victim and found her,” Meagher’s mother-in-law, Joan Meagher, said, according to The Guardian. “He was looking for anyone, it didn’t matter to him who the person was.”
Meagher’s grieving husband, Thomas Meagher, took to Facebook to blast the priest, calling his comments “dangerous” and “misogynistic.”
“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child,” Thomas wrote. “How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messages onto children is depressing. Shameful.”
Once word of the priest’s comments started to spread, the area’s Catholic community tried to make it right. At first, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Melbourne denied that the priest made any such comments, but after that, Monsignor Greg Bennett apologized for what the priest said.
“The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death,” Bennett said, according to The Daily Mirror. “We do not share the sentiment of the homily this morning and we certainly apologise [sic] for the hurt that this homily may have caused today.”
The identity of the priest has yet to be made public. Bayley is currently serving a life sentence for Meagher’s rape and murder.