The Age reports…
“Jill Meagher’s family have lashed out at a Catholic priest’s “disgusting” and “stupid” comments after he told parishioners that had murdered Melbourne woman’s faith been stronger, she would have been “home in bed” and not walking down a street on the night she was brutally raped and killed.
The comments were reportedly made during an end-of-term service at St Christopher’s Primary School in Airport West on Friday, as the priest held up a newspaper article with an image of Ms Meagher’s killer, Adrian Bayley.
Radio station 3AW reported that the priest made the comments to an audience of about 100 people, saying that if Ms Meagher had been “more faith-filled”, she “would have been home in bed” and “not walking down Sydney Road at 3am”.
Jill Meagher’s husband Tom Meagher described the comments as disgusting and shameful.
“How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed to pass those messages onto children is depressing,” he wrote on Facebook.
“What a truly abhorrent message to teach a child.”
Mr Meagher also rejected as a “complete fabrication” reports he or Jill’s family planned legal action against the state of Victoria,by joining a lawsuit with other relatives of people killed by criminals on parole.
Joan Meagher, Jill’s mother-in-law, said she was shocked by the priest’s “ridiculous” comments.
“He’s offended a lot of people. This murder has nothing to do with anything – except the guy who killed Jill,” she told the Irish Independent.
“Adrian Bayley was out there that night looking for a victim and found her.”
Ms Meagher said it didn’t matter to Bailey who the person was.
“It’s nothing to do with anything except the guy who killed her. It’s a stupid thing to say, but I don’t care what people like that say.”
Ms Meagher said Jill wasn’t particularly religious, but was “very spiritual”.
She said Jill and her husband Tom had a strong code of ethics.
“Even religious people get killed in not-so-nice ways.”
Bayley raped and killed Ms Meagher in a Brunswick laneway in September 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 35 years.
A Catholic Church official has apologised for the controversial homily.
Monsignor Greg Bennett, vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne, confirmed the archdiocese was aware of the incident.
He said the church did not support the “totally inappropriate” and offensive” comments made by the priest.
“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.”