Tuesday 12 March 2002

Australian Head-of-State embroiled in scandal

From a New York Times story by Bill Keller, called Let Us Prey:

One prominent church member tells me that the cardinal, Bernard F. Law, has privately likened his disgrace to Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s misadventure at Chappaquiddick, indicating that he expects to tough it out. Others speculate that the Vatican will give the cardinal six months and then kick him upstairs to run something like the Office of Indulgences, for which he seems uniquely qualified.

Whether or not Cardinal Law keeps his job, though, is the wrong question. Surely if he had a shred of respect for his anguished clergy and parishioners he would have stepped down by now. The more interesting question is why he and the bishops who knowingly shuffled sexual predators from parish to parish should not face criminal indictment for abetting the grotesque offenses against the children of their parishes. It will take something like that to break the Catholic Church’s long, sad cycle of sexual abuse, public scandal, promised reform, resurgent complacency, followed, always, by another horrific disclosure.

Most Australians reading the last two paragraphs will have mentally substituted:

Dr Hollingworth, finds himself in a similar predicament to that of Cardinal Law: clinging to office despite continuing suggestions that he ignored allegations of child sexual abuse during his 11-year tenure as Anglican archbishop of Brisbane. The diocese has already been ordered to pay $834,800 (US$435,402) in damages to a woman who, while a student in an Anglican girls’ school, was abused by her house master (he committed suicide on the day the case opened in court). A hearing will begin next month into a damages claim by a second former student who alleges she was abused by the same teacher.

Both the Anglican and Catholic churches in Australia have been dogged by the “long, sad cycle of sexual abuse, public scandal, promised reform, and resurgent complacency” that Bill Keller describes. Next on the agenda: more horrific disclosures, though it’s unlikely—given the Governor-General’s public profile—that they will be covered up like last time. It’s doubtful that Dr Hollingworth will tough it out. Justice will be seen to have been done. And we shall all sleep soundly, secure in the knowledge that the enemy lies without, guarded from any possible threat from within.



A welcome return to the short blog entry!

Posted by: victor echo zulu on 11 March 2002 at 04:20 PM

I'd classify it as a medium blog entry myself. One-and-a-half screenfuls (at 1024 x 768 resolution). A short blog entry, according to the Rules of Blogging, can be no longer than a half-screenful.

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 11 March 2002 at 04:28 PM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

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