Sexual misconduct in the church (letter)by Peter R. McNamaraNews Weekly
, July 13, 2002
Sincere congratulations on the fair, balanced and penetrating summary re the sexual aberrations present within so many of today's churches and institutions (Editorial, News Weekly
, June 29, 2002).
Your publication is well-placed to stand back and present the black-and-white aspects of the problem. Your delayed reaction also does you credit after so many others have rushed in to condemn or defend before having a full appreciation of the problem - a complex problem which has caused so much hurt and doubt since Dr Hollingworth made a hash of his situation
He, like Dr Pell, is a good man, but both have been caught up in a problem which has resulted in so much shame and cover-up on the one hand and so much distress and anguish on the other.
As a lawyer involved in the insurance field for most of my 40 years in practice, it was painfully clear to me that Peter Hollingworth was badly served by the insurance constraints of his position.
Similarly with George Pell - the tone and content of the solicitors' letter featured in the 60 Minutes
expose were so out of place as to be damning, and so clearly evidencing the hard line of 'insurance' practitioners as to be condemnatory of the process and of the person in whose name it was sent.
Its author completely ignored the need for utmost compassion in the case of the two sisters and, instead, virtually admitted liability by offering the maximum compensation and then issued the time-honoured threat of defendants and insurance companies that, should the offer be rejected, any legal proceedings will be "strenuously defended."
How did the Church come to allow such an inappropriate and, indeed, ambivalent piece of legalese to go out in its name to a family so devastated and badly wronged?
Was it just another grievous error of judgement in this terrible saga of shocking mistakes and culpable ignorance?
Many say that the sins of the bishops were greater than those of the paedophile priests who were let loose in unsuspecting parishes and communities time after time. At least, the paedophiles can claim the US defence of "irresistible impulse", whereas the best the bishops can do is claim "irresponsible ignorance".
In the blissful ignorance of my youth, I could not imagine the issues raised by Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory
having much relevance to Australia. Fifty years on, the whisky-priest and the adulterous cleric have become all too familiar for me and my only consolation is that it has ever been thus over 2000 years!Peter R. McNamara,