There seems to be a certain conceit among some journalists that they comprise an intellectual elite, a conceit often unwittingly busted by every word they publish. One could ask them how they can reconcile presenting a BBC radio show while also writing for News International, an entity whose management seem to consider the BBC's continued existence to be a personal affront. Does not compute.
I have often found Libby Purves to be a sober and reasonable commentator. However, she has published a commentary in 'The Times'
that must be music to the ears of the Committee for Public Safety which Tricky Dicky Dawky is trying to set up just in time for the arrival of the Holy Father on his state
visit. The only item of merit it possesses is that although she's lapsed, she doesn't do the full India Knight
She writes of the Catholic Church's reaction to allegations of clerical abuse that '(i)t is now beyond reasonable doubt that for many years — some of them horribly recent — in cases involving the abuse and rape of children the institution valued its own reputation above justice and kindness.' Her loaded use of the loaded phrase 'beyond reasonable doubt' reads, to my eyes, as a a proclamation of guilt by newspaper. Not being in possession of all admissible facts, she is in no position to form a decision as to what those facts might be.
"From Ireland, America, Australia, Austria, the story is always the same: a brave complaint, an admission of guilt including other crimes, followed only by weak supervision and an exaggerated concern for the perpetrator. The wolf retains his clerical dress and status, making other children and their parents feel safe when they are not. Higher authority deplores the sin, takes the confession but won’t risk corporate reputation by handling it properly. As the Murphy Commission scathingly put it, the priority was always “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the Church and the preservation of its assets”.
The concept of 'child abuse' burst onto my consciousness as a teenager at the time of the Cleveland abuse scandal
. There is a perfect parallel between the hysterical desire of Marietta Higgs and Geoffrey Wyatt to find evidence of child abuse, and the hysterical desire of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to imprison the Pope. Higgs's and Wyatt's zealotry resulted in dozens of innocent parents being labelled as child abusers, an injustice for which neither has ever been called to account. Up to that time, I can't recall hearing the expression. Maybe I was lucky, very lucky. However, can anyone please tell me how a Church whose leaders are in thrall to therapy in 1970's Ireland can be expected to be alive to fashions in therapy that won't appear until the 1980's? How is this possible? One of the tragedies of all this, albeit a minor one when compared to the infliction of harm upon the vulnerable and the grotesque breaches of trust that were carried out, is that it was all utterly avoidable. If some those in the Church responsible for directing policy for such matters had, you know, read a little bit of Scripture, or, you know, perhaps even prayed for guidance instead of reading 'The Divided Self', perhaps some of these guys wouldn't have got across the door of a seminary.
I don't know if this is a call for women priests -
"Forget the lordly authoritarianism which speaks of the “good of the Universal Church”: that Church itself plainly states that concealing crime by silence is wrong, and that it is worse still to counsel and command others to commit the same sin of silence and concealment. Yet this crime, this sin, was being regularly urged on children, parents and parishioners by men in authority: the solemn clerical authority which purports to draw its privilege direct from the eternal Truth and to see into the depths of the heart. It is an all-male authority, too, in which the greenest young priest outranks an experienced nun or devout mother. It has been the perfect screen for wickedness."
It looks like it to me, if only because it seems as foggy and ill thought-out as most others.
But Purves is feeling generous -
"Most priests are not wicked. Catholics, in my experience, whether lay or clerical tend to be rather good people: gentle, spiritually aware, concerned for others, kept decently humble by the explicitness of Confession. But their Church has betrayed them, because it fossilised into a culture of hierarchy and unquestioning obedience, at the expense of individual conscience and intelligence. This is the fault line that may bring it down."
No, no, NO! Some people in the Church have been treacherous and unworthy servants of God. 'The Church' has not betrayed anyone. If Purves does not understand this, then she has no business commenting on Catholic affairs, no matter how well she learned her Penny Catechism.
I would suggest she read Andrew Brown's latest commentary in 'The Guardian'
. The CDF has 45 people supervising the doctrinal and disciplinary affairs of 1.3 billion people. If this were a malfunctioning local authority social work department in England, the BBC would be reporting its pleas for more resources.
Labels: A Very British Kulturkampf, Keith, Tricky Dicky Dawky