God only knows how the church can hide
Sydney Morning Herald
8th July 2012
Updated 9th July 2012
Suppose, just suppose, that it had emerged this week that back in 1992 a major Australian institution such as, say, Qantas, BHP, the ACTU or, indeed, Fairfax, had an employee make an admission that he had committed paedophile acts on 10-year-old boys; and that instead of calling the police, the institution had kept him in their employ for another 13 years, even as two of those boys went on to take their own lives.
And say within the same institution, credible allegations emerged that another employee regularly raped 10-year-old boys, but instead of the police being called, that employee had been promoted to head office! Just how great do you think the outcry would be? Of course it would engulf the public discourse, would dominate talkback, letters to the editor and Parliament for days, if not weeks. As it happens, that scenario did occur this week, all revealed by reporter Geoff Thompson on Four Corners on Monday night. But the institution in question was the Catholic Church of Australia, the employees in question were priests and reaction since has been somewhat muted. Why?
Two reasons. First, news that a Catholic priest has committed such abominable acts is not actually a ''hold the front page'' story any more, so regularly do we hear of it.
And, second, because these acts occurred within a religious institution, people are reluctant to criticise, for that would be criticising religion, and we don't do that.
I say the hell with it. I say we should call it for what it is: appalling systemic child abuse that has gone on for generations and will go on for generations more, until we as a people get to grips with it. Far from being held to account, one of the alleged perpetrators is now being sheltered in the Vatican!
A bare beginning is the course advocated by Patrick Parkinson, a University of Sydney professor of law, who told the Herald this week: ''We need a royal commission with subpoena powers.'' And before you send angry emails, watch the Four Corners report online.