GARRY EASTMAN. Response to Jack Waterford: We need a Catholic Yom Kippur, and a serious sacrifice.

There are now no survivors or parents of survivors on the Commission nor are there any on the Australian Towards Healing or Melbourne Response agencies for handling complaints by victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The same criticism applies to the Truth, the Justice and Healing Council and the newly created company, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd.  

Response to Jack Waterford

I had just finished reading Jack Waterford’s powerful article on bishops’ accountability and governance (Pearls and Irritations/Canberra Times) when an email alert popped up on my screen from the National Catholic Reporter (a US independent newspaper) headed ‘Lone survivor on Vatican abuse commission resigns in frustration’. The headline and subsequent article told how Irish survivor, Marie Collins, had resigned from the Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors. Her resignation followed on from survivor Peter Saunders agreeing to take leave following his criticisms of the slowness of the Commission to institute reforms.

There are now no survivors or parents of survivors on the Commission nor are there any on the Australian Towards Healing or Melbourne Response agencies for handling complaints by victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The same criticism applies to the Truth, the Justice and Healing Council and the newly created company, Catholic Professional Standards Ltd.

As conservative columnist, Angela Shanahan commented many years back on Q & A, what a different response the Catholic Church would have made to sexual abuse if mothers had been involved in the decision making. A similar comment can be made about the part that could have been played by victims and their supporters. Instead on several occasions prior to the Commission and the Victorian Enquiry they received many disparaging comments from several bishops.

For all the heartfelt gestures by bishops appearing at the Royal Commission, nothing of substance has changed. The greatest failure of responsibility was to leave it to Francis Sullivan, the Director of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, to respond in tears to counsel Gail Furness’ listing of the extent of abuse in the Catholic Church. Where was Archbishop Hart, President of the Bishops Conference, offering a response and shedding a tear?

Not only did Archbishop Hart or any of the archbishops fail to show any emotional response but Hart had the temerity to issue a statement pledging that the bishops would work to safeguard victims while at the same time releasing a redacted report into the Melbourne Response after he had finished his testimony. He had had the Report for 18 months! This is the same archbishop who steadfastly refused until the Commission to hold an enquiry into the Melbourne Response.

This stonewalling and rejection of consultation happens at all levels. As Marie Collins commented in her resignation statement, the Vatican bureaucracy constantly disregarded recommendations from the Pontifical Commission, even refusing as directed to respond to victims’ letters. Other members of this commission made similar complaints in their testimony before the Royal Commission.

Then we had Anthony Fisher, archbishop of Sydney, claiming that he could not act autocratically as his priests and people wouldn’t allow it. He seemed to forget that it never stopped his predecessor Cardinal George Pell from doing so in recent years in both Sydney and Melbourne. Under the current lack of accountability it won’t stop any bishop from doing the same in the future.

During the discussion on governance Archbishop Coleridge from Brisbane turned to the Royal Commission and appealed for recommendations to help the bishops get their house in order. He failed to recognise that he and the bishops had before them recommendations from many lay people and organisations. He and his fellow bishops abandoned colleagues Geoffrey Robinson, Pat Power and Bill Morris when they were censured by the Vatican for doing likewise. He was not attentive to the testimony of governance expert, Dr Maureen Cleary, who showed what a radical difference corporate structure and it requirements made to how religious orders operated.

Jack Waterford said heads should roll, archbishops and the nuncio should resign. Following Marie Collins resignation, so should several in the Vatican.

To my mind the Royal Commission in theological terms has been a grace, a gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the Commission we would never have known the extent of abuse in the Catholic Church, we would never have seen leaders held to account.

As visiting US canonist Dr Tom Doyle OP commented at the end of his evidence,

I just want to make sure that my gratitude on behalf of my colleagues and the people I represent in the States, unofficially, is heard by you, how grateful we are for what you are doing for us but especially what you are doing for those who have been violated, who will never come forward but know that somebody cares enough about them to go through all of this. That is important. Thank you.

I agree.

Garry Eastman, Executive Chairman, Garratt Publishing. 

print

This entry was posted in Religion and Faith and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to GARRY EASTMAN. Response to Jack Waterford: We need a Catholic Yom Kippur, and a serious sacrifice.

  1. Anne Cary says:

    I think the bishops will my take note when parishioners refuse to put any money on the plate and a separate fund is established for the monies to be redirected to survivors and their families. After hearing the Melbourne response this past week I refrained from contributing to a church that has its head in the sand.

    • Brian Coyne says:

      Anne, I’m sorry to disabuse you. It is futile withdrawing money from the collection plate. Over the last half century more than half the adult Catholic population have left the pews and consequently ceased contributing to the Sunday collection plate. What difference has it made to the leaders of the Church? The answer is none. And the reason it hasn’t made any difference is because the Sunday collection plate today represents only a tiny part of the source from which the Church derives its income. This in one of the longest existing institutions in the world and has built up massive capital reserves albeit much of it in property which is not necessarily a very liquid asset. There are still plenty of those Benedict Ratzinger labelled as “the little people” and “simple people” (see my post below) who have inherited large sums of money who still make bequests to the Church. This Church could still thrive for a few more centuries I am sure even if everybody suddenly ceased putting any money on the Sunday collection plate. In Australia today the vast proportion of Church income comes via the Australian taxpayer by way of government assistance to Catholic Education, Catholic Healthcare, Catholic Agedcare and to its many social services.

  2. Two points: Firstly being a victim is an unfortunate accident. The accident does not confer the ability to remedy the causes nor the system in which the abuse took place. By all means include the testimony of the victim on groups designing standards and remedies but make sure you have trained expert advice in the area. It is a matter of balance.
    Secondly according to Paul Vallely, Pope Francis’ biographer, Francis has two blind spots. One is the treatment of women in the church and the other is his handling of clerical abuse. Seemingly, he has, as an act of mercy, redressed defrockings and expulsions of clerics who offended. Mercy is a desirable virtue but it should not replace justice. However the papal astigmatism may be explained by John Carmody’s piece on this site where he describes clerical alexythemia as caused by the seminary processes which trained priests including the current Pope.

  3. Joan Seymour says:

    I agree with most of your points, Gary. Summed up – the response has not been perfect, But then -what is? Since you quote Maureen Cleary as a ‘governance expert’, you might consider her views on ethical change in organizations. I’m sure she’d acknowledge that the human organization that is the Catholic Church is too heavy and too old to spin around on a sixpence. The Royal Commission has been a blessing to the Church, and will continue to be so in proportion to the interest of the Bishops themselves – but once this generation passes, entropy has a great chance of reasserting itself, especially while Rome continues to hold our state steady. (It really doesn’t like that idea of Christ coming to put fire on the earth)! The Bishops did well to include both lay and ordained members, men and women, on the TJH Council,with laymen as Chair and as CEO. (And what a great job Francis Sullivan has done) ! That’s a good start in addressing the Church’s major problem – a structure that excludes at least 99% of its membership from any decision making power. Lay and ordained, women and men – let’s see more of that in the Australian churches and in the universal Church.

  4. Jim KABLE says:

    Just this evening my wife and I spoke in a restaurant in a southern state capital with a young man completing accountancy studies – before pursuing his plan to undertake priestly studies (Catholic). This we learnt of when we asked him if he were married. No, not married – he will become a priest, he told us.. He is NOT Australian-born nor raised – and that must be in his favour… His honesty and sincerity shone – and not recruited into signing away his life to service in mid-adolescence! A mature age entrant. Maybe this along with allowing marriage in the priesthood – and female priests – might be the saving of the Church!

  5. Good contribution Garry. No one will ever convince me that celibacy is not a serious contributing factor. There are moments when the frustration warps the mind.
    Glad I left it behind.
    No women in the church ruling structure? Another serious contributing factor. So obvious.

  6. Brian Coyne says:

    Garry Eastman writes towards the end of his essay,

    “To my mind the Royal Commission in theological terms has been a grace, a gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the Commission we would never have known the extent of abuse in the Catholic Church, we would never have seen leaders held to account.”

    I have been wondering for decades where the Holy Spirit is operating in the world today. Evidently the HS does not seem to have been operating in the sacred corridors of the Church, or in the minds of her bishops, judging by all the petitions sent to heaven for all those decades for vocations, and to stem the exit out of the pews. I believe all those prayers have in fact been answered by the drying-up of vocations, and the exit out of pews. Yet the hierarchs continually pander to, and attempt to appease, the remnant element who are most responsible for driving the vast majority out of the pews. You could almost argue that the Holy Spirit today has abandoned the Church, and its leaders, and does operate on a wider canvas in society today and through agencies like this Royal Commission and the similar public inquiries going on around the world.

    I often wonder if the “ontologically changed” ones are not so much driven by trying to please the Holy Spirit as trying to please their own mothers as to what intelligent, powerful or wise people their sons turned out to be? Their own “Holy Mothers” exert far more influence than the “Holy Spirit”. The whole circus has become an enormous tragedy on top of the thousands whose lives were ruined by various forms of transgression and abuse. Yet, the ethos and culture seems to follow directly from these words uttered by the then Cardinal Ratzinger when the Vatican applied the thumb screws to Hans Küng:

    “The Christian believer is a simple person: bishops should protect the faith of these little people against the power of intellectuals.” [Words said by Cdl Ratzinger in a 1979 homily explaining why Hans Küng was censured. Quoted in John L Allen’s book at https://books.google.com.au/books?id=eR8weSA-f9gC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=%22The+Christian+believer+is+a+simple+person%22&source=bl&ots=swvsRoUILs&sig=asQn9aB16WNDPFaYh86NEL3n0Hc&hl=en&ei=WIK6Se-sApDe6QPb5f3eBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result#v=onepage&q=%22The%20Christian%20believer%20is%20a%20simple%20person%22&f=false.%5D

    Today the leaders of the Church seem to only care for those that Ratzinger labelled as “the little people” and “the simple people”. They seemingly couldn’t give a damn for the now 90% in Australia who have exited the pews or their spiritual needs.

  7. Australian taxpayers to request removal of governments funds from Bishops and Archbishops says:

    Australian taxpayers have contributed to ‘funding government assistance to Catholic Education, Catholic Healthcare, Catholic Aged care and to its many social services’.
    Brian Coyle highlights where the contemporary church $$$ come from in 2017.
    Australian taxpayers must request the urgent removal of Federal and State governments funds from the exclusive management by Bishops and Archbishops. They must request tax payers funds are accountable and transparent. That they are managed by democratically elected and inclusive boards.
    Bishops must be held accountable for their ‘negligence and placing the interest of scandal and church assest’ ahead of children and vulnerable adults in their care. The negligence of the Catholic Church has allowed so many terrible crimes to go unpunished.
    Who is responsible for this moral and legal negligence that has destroyed the lives of many Australian children? Let’s hope the Royal Commission does not place Church leadership above the law.

  8. Australian taxpayers to request removal of governments funds from Bishops and Archbishops says:

    Australian taxpayers must request the urgent removal of Federal and State governments funds from the exclusive management by Bishops and Archbishops.
    Taxpayer monies require accountability and transparency.

  9. Patricia Boylan says:

    Australian taxpayers must request the urgent removal of Federal and State governments funds from the exclusive management by Bishops and Archbishops.
    Tax payers monies require accountability and transparency. The funds have failed to support children in the care of the church.

  10. Patricia Boylan says:

    Australian taxpayers must request the urgent removal of Federal and State governments funds directed exclusively to Bishops as the sole entity.
    No longer can ‘advisory boards’ with ‘selected’ not ‘elected’ board members be adequate.
    In place must be a democratic, inclusive and accountable board.
    The board must not have paid employees as members or the church retained lawyers.
    Taxpayers monies require accountability and transparency. Many church entities funding has self-assessment requirements and lack transparency.
    Taxpayers must ask questions about the amount of money funded by the church organisations – education, aged care, social services etc.
    Transparency and accountability of taxpayer funding may show where the churches money for their expensive lawyers comes from.

Comments are closed.