Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Gerard Henderson shows how to blame the media and Rome in order to praise the Pellists ...

It was one of those poignant "black is white, white is black, and never mind any shades of grey" digital splashes that make Tuesday such a calendar day in the life of the pond.

Yes, there's good old Hendo, the prattling Polonius of the commentariat, doing his bit for the Catholic church, and already copping four comments, a rare feat early in the morning.

Naturally he's upset at the abuse directed at the church - forget about the abuse of children, let's talk about Hendo's major concern, the abuse of the poor, hapless wronged church - and naturally the abuse is all the fault of the ABC and Fairfax:

During their recent appearances before the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into child abuse, Pell and Hart were subjected to hectoring by some parliamentarians, along with occasional demonstrations and generally hostile media coverage, particularly on the ABC and in The Age.

Uh huh. Shocking. Everyone should be upset at such shocking and upsetting abuse of the church.

So what's the first crime the ABC is alleged to have committed?

A lot of the commentary on this issue has been replete with an ignorance as to how the Catholic Church operates by those who should know better. For example, on ABC1's News Breakfast last week Wayne Chamley of Broken Rites said the Church "runs on anarchy". It doesn't.

Yep, it dared to report the views of someone outside the official Hendo line, when really no one should speak except Hendo. And then searching for a better example, Hendo comes up with this:

Last July, the Four Corners program ''Unholy Silence'', by Geoff Thompson and Mary Ann Jolley, failed to make the point that Pell is not responsible for archdioceses or dioceses other than his own. Each bishop reports direct to the Pope in what is an authoritarian structure. 

Now some might think that excusing the church because it has "an authoritarian structure" a tad bizarre - a bit like excusing the activities of fascists because they rely on "an authoritarian structure" - but what is more revealing is the way Hendo immediately refuses to explore the implications of said "authoritarian structure".

Which is this. In the case of child abuse, Pell and others in power have been able to wave their hands and say nothing to do with me, why don't you take it up with Rome, while strutting about in their robes and finery, presenting themselves as the leading figures in the church down under. All the glory and none of the responsibility. Confessor to Tony Abbott himself ...

When it comes to financial and legal responsibility, it gets even better, because the structure used by the church is carefully honed to make any legal action extremely difficult.

Now in the usual way, Hendo is a dab hand at cherry picking, selecting a single fact, and ignoring the big picture, looking at and grasping a single leaf, while ignoring the shape of the tree:

More seriously, Four Corners refused to run Pell's comment to this effect, either in the program itself or in the extended interview which is on the Four Corners website. The latter omission looks like censorship. This was important since the cases of sexual abuse covered in the program pertained to crimes committed by a one-time priest identified as "F" in the dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta, which are outside Pell's immediate control. 
The bishops of Armidale and Parramatta commissioned a report into the management of F by retired Federal Court judge Antony Whitlam, QC, (a non-Catholic). 
Whitlam identified a significant error in the Four Corners program. He found that the the program incorrectly claimed that F had made admissions to the Catholic Church authorities in Sydney which should have been reported to police. This claim remains uncorrected on the Four Corners website - some six months after the report was handed down.

Is there something bizarre about the church commissioning a report into its activities, which is then used to exonerate it, or at least correct alleged errors of fact?

Well yes it is, if you happen to think that Parramatta is somewhere on the moon, and has no connection at all with Sydney, or with Kenthurst where "F" was kicked to work as an assistant priest in 1990, and then in Merrylands, where he did another short stint.

And if you overlook the way that Father "F" was invited to a meeting at the Sydney Cathedral presbytery on the 3rd September 1992, attended by three church officials, Reverend Brian Lucas, Reverend John Usher, and Reverend Wayne Peters.

Now what was said at the meeting might be disputed - though the result - "F" sent back to Armidale is clear enough - but the moment that "F" was dealt with at Sydney Cathedral, it became a problem for Sydney, and in due course for Pell, and no washing of the hands can solve the problem. (You might care to read the story at Broken Rites here unless you have blood pressure or anger management issues).

Why is none of this mentioned by Hendo, described in detail, the forensic and gory behaviour flushed out and exposed? Why you might almost write that these omissions seem to amount to a kind of censorship ...

The form, the modus operandi of the church and its apologists, has always been to blame others, the media, Fairfax, the ABC, parliamentarians, those no longer on the scene in the Catholic church, dead and departed, and present the new generation as the problem solvers.

First attack the media, then attack a few nominated straw men:

Like Kennedy in Armidale, Little and Mulkearns were weak men who were in denial and who put their misplaced sense of loyalty to the church, and fear of scandal, before their duty to the victims. 

And then award olive wreaths to the brave new bunch:

Pell and Hart do not claim to have handled an extremely difficult situation without error. But they did well enough.

Actually Pell has been a shocker. He's mishandled the media, and he's mishandled cases, such that the church tried to find ways to get him out of the mix. His mix of arrogance and condescension, personal aspects not easily overcome, are offputting to many people.

Even the most superficial observation of events over the last few years would confirm this, but not when you're a blinkered Polonius pushing a wheelbarrow up hill. Push away prattling Polonius:

It's just that these days, whatever they do is criticised: if they point out that each bishop is responsible only for his own diocese, they are accused of avoiding responsibility; if they acknowledge the errors made by the likes of Little, Mulkearns and Kennedy, they are accused of shifting the blame and; if they apologise, they are invariably told by the victims or their families that they are not genuine or lack sufficient remorse. 

But of course that's because they have constantly attempted to avoid responsibility and they resolutely refuse to accept any blame, and their apologies have been tinged with arrogance or contempt or disclaimers - such as the notion that the church isn't the only haven for paedophiles.

And yes, you can find paedophiles within the community and within the family and within other institutions, but that's not the point. The Catholic (and other churches) were entrusted with children, and that trust, and the children were abused, and the abuse was covered up, and it wasn't a single case here or there, but a substantial number of cases.

And that's why there are three inquiries currently investigating the activities of the church and the cover-ups, and that's why when you read this closing line by Polonius, the mirth is somewhat thin-lipped:

Yet, in spite of the critics, the likes of Pell and Hart were leaders in the community in addressing child sexual abuse. It is unfashionable to say so, but it's true nevertheless.

Uh huh. Which is why if you read various stories about Pell and his activities, such as the story of St John of God - Pell urged to close order over abuses - you might well want to risk Hendo's charge of being fashionable.

There you will find the tale of a gang of paedophiles, extremely active, and Pell providing cash to the gang, and here's how you get off the hook:

Cardinal Pell's spokesman said the order was not responsible to any Australian bishop. It managed its own affairs and reported to its headquarters in Rome. 
''Cardinal Pell was not involved in the investigation of any abuse within the order. He was not briefed on any outcomes. He was not involved in the payment of any 'hush money' … 
''Cardinal Pell's recollection is that the order had a liquidity problem in meeting its obligations to victims, that a loan was made by the Sydney Development Fund and repaid.'' Cardinal Pell supported this. 

Indeed. Got a problem? Here's a bundle of cash, but say and tell me nothing. Waiter, another bowl of water, and please, send it to Rome ...

Is it any wonder that Sister Annette Cunliffe said Pell didn't speak for everyone?

Some of his views perhaps came across as somewhat defensive and I think people feel that this is not the time for being defensive, it is the time for being open and honest. (Time for Bishops to step back).

Come to think of it, you could make exactly the same remark about Hendo's column:

Some of prattling Polonius's views perhaps came across as somewhat defensive and I think people feel that this is not the time for being defensive, it is the time for being open and honest. 

Fat chance, thin chance, sweet bugger all chance. Denialism remains the go amongst the Catholic fundamentalists ...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dorothy.
    And we the public have to watch prattling polonius on the ABC and his twisted logic.


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