Trigger warning: This post deals with sexual assault, murder and themes of victim-blaming and may be triggering for some readers.
The comments, which referred to the 2012 rape and murder of 29-year-old Melbourne ABC staffer Jill Meagher, were reportedly made at St Christopher’s Primary School in the Melbourne suburb of Airport West on Friday.
Related content: Rest in peace, Jill Meagher.
The priest made the comments to an audience of about 100 people at an end-of-term service, 3AW reports.
Now, Ms Meagher’s family have hit back at the priest’s comments, with Jill’s husband Tom calling them”disgusting” in an outraged post on Facebook.
“I would like to address the disgusting message taught to the children of St Christopher’s Primary School,” Mr Meagher wrote in the post on Saturday.
“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child. How a human being with such dangerous & misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messages onto children is depressing. Shameful.”
Mr Meagher went on to ask his Facebook followers to support a campaign to tackle the “stranglehold the Catholic Church has over the public school system in Ireland”.
Related content: Tom Meagher’s powerful essay on violence against women.
Joan Meagher, Jill’s mother-in-law, told the Irish Independent the priest’s comments were “stupid.”
“He’s offended a lot of people. This murder has nothing to do with anything – except the guy who killed Jill,” she said.
“It’s a stupid thing to say, but I don’t care what people like that say.”
Ms Meagher added that “even religious people get killed in not-so-nice ways.”
The Catholic Church has apologised for the priest’s comments, The Age reports.
Vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne Monsignor Greg Bennett told 3AW he had spoken with the priest, who “apologises for the offence and upset it has caused”.
“The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death,” he said.
Related content: The violent past of Jill Meagher’s killer has been revealed.
Mamamia has previously reported that Ms Meagher’s killer Adrian Ernest Bayley now has more than 20 convictions for rape.
One of those rapes, of a woman in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, took place in 2000, while two more rapes took place in Elwood and St Kilda in 2012, just months before Bayley raped and killed Ms Meagher.
If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.