Springing to the defense
Go around the comboxes and discussion boards - including to the posts on this blog - and you will find many condemnations of Archbishop Hepworth's decision to go public, and of Senator Xenophon's decision to name the accused priest.
What does he hope to achieve, they ask?
Well, a serious investigation for one thing. And appropriate precautionary action in the meantime.
What level of proof is necessary?
Acting on an accusation does not mean you think they are guilty. It does not mean that the accusations will ultimately pass the 'beyond reasonable doubt' or some other test of proof. It merely argues that there is a claim that needs to be properly tested.
The instinct to defend our priests is a natural and good one. Our first instinct when someone we know or respect is accused of doing something that seems wildly out of character is naturally to spring to their defense.
Nothing wrong with that.
But even as we offer them our support we have to be careful to allow proper processes to work.
Resistance to proper action
And that can't happen when the laity's first instinct is to resist even acknowledging the remote possibility that there might actually be a real problem that needs to be addressed.
It is precisely this kind of reaction that has made it difficult for bishops to take decisive action when known problems have occurred in the past.
It is precisely this reaction which has seen priests shuffled from parish to parish, or moved into quasi-administrative positions rather than actually removed from the ministry when they were known paedophiles or guilty of other serious crimes.
We need to let the light shine in on these cases with transparent processes.
We need to urge bishops to take decisive action, whether precautionary or where guilt is reasonably established.
If we don't, we ourselves bear the guilt for any future crimes committed.
Not that support or otherwise appears to be much of factor in this case, as the latest updates suggest that since AB Hepworth went public, the archdiocese hasn't even bothered to make official contact with him, preferring instead to defend it and the accused priest in the media rather than by instituting an actual process...