Thursday, August 22, 2002

Where to begin with the latest George Pell story?

· Farce (aka “Don’t trouble the Pope, when a cheap imitation will suffice”):

“On July 20 [2002], Bishop Robinson wrote to [Pell’s accuser] stating that the Towards Healing process allowed for claims of abuse to be investigated only against individuals who have bishops or religious leaders as a superior. "The person against whom you have brought a complaint does not have any of these bishops or religious leaders as a superior, but only the Pope. It is therefore, not possible to begin a case under the Towards Healing process," the bishop wrote.

Instead, Bishop Robinson offered a process that would imitate Towards Healing and assured the alleged victim he would do everything to ensure his case was heard

- The Age, 22 August 2002

· Pell’s apologists, such as The Australian’s Luke Slattery (22 August 2002), being unable to even count to five:

Although laypeople tend to trace the sex crimes of church officials back to the repression demanded of them by a celibate lifestyle, Pell sees the source of the sickness in today’s ‘sexually hypercharged’ society.

Now, even leaving aside the not-so-small matter of whether being ‘sexually hypercharged’ – I, for one, am quite happy to wear that label, if it fits – extends to adults having sex with children, I don’t understand how today’s society can be used to retrospectively explain crimes from four decades ago. Yes, Luke, you snivelling little right-wing suck, it’s time to take your fingers out and learn to count -

1. One is for 1960’s – a bad decade to be a young Catholic in, but a very good one for clerical paedophiles to operate in. Back then, there was plenty of, in the quaint and euphemistic words of one priest, “good natured horseplay” (Australian, 22 August 2002). Typical scene of crime: school camp.

2. Two is for 1970’s – with the sexual revolution in full swing, Catholic vocations suddenly plummet. Teenage boys with unusual sexual appetites discover that there are now far more lifetime career/sex options, other than the priesthood – eg clerk at Telecom by day, “swinger” by night. With the seminary intakes drying up to almost nothing, existing adult clergy are caught between preserved as museum exhibits, and joining the decade’s swingers party - in plainclothes, of course. Then there are those who can’t decide . . . Typical scene of crime: headmaster’s office (primary school).

3. Three is for 1980’s – the decade that taste forgot. As an issue, child sexual abuse gets its first mainstream coverage. Because of this, and also because of lay teachers, lay altar-assistants, etc, rapidly taking over the reins – and so nosing around everywhere – the actual practise of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy starts to diminish. But, come Sunday morning, is the chance to “seize the day” with a quick grope . . . Typical scene of crime: altar-boys’ dressing room.

4. Four is for 1990’s – the best decade in ages to be a young Catholic in. Clerical paedophiles have, for the most part, been quietly locked, defrocked or demoted away. In any case, baby boomer parents take few chances with their offspring: paedophilia awareness has never been greater. Typical scene of crime: none.

5. Five is for 2000’s – “the family” rules, alongside John Howard and George Pell. Strangely-suited, ascetic men have a real aura of authority, for the first time since the 1960’s. Only this time, the men (and with them, some women), are not, for the most part, Catholic clergy. With those in power resembling anonymous cardboard cut-outs, a new generation of sexual predators takes their cue. Typical scene of crime: the Internet. A bit of online “horseplay”, anyone?

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