Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Abuse in Australia update

  • Archbishop Wilson has issued a denial of the claims made on Lateline last night
The story certainly raised some questions, but so far at least it seems to be the ABC attempting to establish guilt by association - albeit an association that does not look good on the face of it. The most serious allegation supportable by objective evidence seems to be the failure to report the McAlinden case to police - but who should really be held accountable in a case like this, the bishop concerned or his subordinate Vicar-General, who was presumably acting under instructions?  And to what extent should the Church be held accountable when the parents of the abused child themselves decide not to take the matter to the police?  There are issues of power, authority and possible intimidation of course, but still...In any case, we must await the outcome of any investigations....
  • Cardinal Pell on two cases of priests who continued to minister after accusations of abuse
Cardinal Pell has spoken up calling for tougher action against priests who continue to act as priests after being directed not to.  The most recent cases concerned are in the Melbourne Archdiocese, where AB Hart has apparently written three times to a priest who has continued to say mass for annual St Patrick's Day celebrations, but not apparently taken any further action.  Even more serious perhaps is the case in Broken Bay Diocese who after being suspended celebrated a wedding (it is worth noting that if he was formally suspended - it is unclear just what 'removed from ministry' really means - the wedding may well be invalid for want of proper form viz an offically approved witness...), and was given an official function to celebrate his fifty years of service!

**Update: apparently the priest concelebrated the mass, so was presumably not the official witness.  A statement by the Bishop of Broken Bay can be read here.

Have the lessons been learnt?

The real issue underlying these and previous cases is whether or not our bishops have really learnt the lessons from the abuse crisis. 

There isn't much evidence of it. 

Certainly there has been absolutely no transparency on issues such as which priests have had action taken against them, the number of priests involved in complaints, the action taken against them, the time taken to resolve accusations, and much more.

Continuing my theme of Benedictine spirituality, the daily readings set for the Rule of St Benedict are currently on the chapters relating to the role of the abbot, covering both his role in ensuring the salvation of his flock, and listening carefully to advice from all, whether in high position, or the youngest in the monastery in making decisions.  They are chapters that hold wisdom worth considering for anyone in a leadership role.

But there is one line in these chapters that really struck me as an appropriate subject for meditation at the moment for all those in a position of authority, particularly in the Church, namely St Benedict's injunction for the abbot  "not to shut his eyes to the faults of offenders; but as soon as they begin to appear, let him, as he can, cut them out by the roots, mindful of the fate of Heli, the priest of Silo."

4 comments:

Louise said...

The most serious allegation supportable by objective evidence seems to be the failure to report the McAlinden case to police - but who should really be held accountable in a case like this, the bishop concerned or his subordinate Vicar-General, who was presumably acting under instructions?

The whole thing does look terribly bad for +Wilson. And the question "what did he think Jim was taking me to his bedroom for?" is pretty compelling. I mean, what would one think?

The hard thing is that most of us do not want to believe the worst about a person. This kind of thing is so hard to believe of people in general, and people we respect, moreso.

And to what extent should the Church be held accountable when the parents of the abused child themselves decide not to take the matter to the police?

Also a good question.

Louise said...

The real issue underlying these and previous cases is whether or not our bishops have really learnt the lessons from the abuse crisis.

There isn't much evidence of it.

Certainly there has been absolutely no transparency on issues such as which priests have had action taken against them, the number of priests involved in complaints, the action taken against them, the time taken to resolve accusations, and much more.


Yes. Very good points.

Terra said...

On the looks bad, certainly agree. The series of cases relating to the Newcastle Diocese seems to be exposing a particularly bad case of the see no evil/cover-up/protect the priest mentality. But we don't know all the ins and outs of the case, people and situation...

Louise said...

Exactly.