Vale Anthony Foster
It is with much sadness that we learned of the sudden death of Anthony Foster in Melbourne over the weekend.
Anthony and his wife Chrissie dedicated their lives to seeking justice for victims of child sex abuse.
In 2010, when I was still living in Rome, I read the book Hell on the Way to Heaven in which they told the harrowing story of the sexual abuse of their daughters by a Catholic priest. I was deeply moved by their suffering but also inspired by their determination, courage and resilience.
Back in Melbourne as an Auxiliary Bishop, I sought them out and eventually met them on a number of occasions. I was kindly received into their home a few times and offered hospitality – a privilege I treasure. Each time we met, the Fosters would share with me their pain and suffering. They would also challenge me to do all I could as a church leader to treat victims and their loved ones with the Christian justice we profess.
I was especially touched by Anthony’s empathy – perhaps a virtue he nurtured during his own experience of suffering. At the end of the Royal Commission hearing of the five Metropolitans, the Fosters met with Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. After he had left the meeting, Anthony became very concerned how deeply affected Archbishop Fisher was. He contacted me and asked if I could check and make sure that the Archbishop was OK. I was only too happy to oblige.
I am privileged to have met Anthony and learned much from him. If the Church in Australia is to offer justice and healing for victims and a safer place for children, then it must respect the legacy of people like Anthony Foster.
May he rest in peace!
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta