Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Catholic Church abuse scandal

Before anybody thinks I have any delusions of grandeur, I am well aware that neither the Vicar of Christ, Benedict XVI, nor the Catholic Church needs my 2c defence, but as somebody who has always been quite outspoken about my Church, I would like to go on record with regards to the latest revelations of paedophilia that have been reported so shrilly in blanket coverage by the media lately.

Firstly, the hypocrisy of a media portraying itself as an outraged neutral reporter of the latest scandals is quite ironic: they are the self same media who have virtually canonised the deviant and arguably the most famous paedophile in history, Alfred Kinsey.
Secondly, the figures have been grossly overstated by typical media-speak: 'it has been reported', 'studies show', 'it is expected that revelations will reveal', all evidence of hyperbole and / or exaggeration so typical of sensationalist gossip tabloids uninhibited by evidence that allows mere accusations to be portrayed as gospel. The problem is also that the media itself has no moral ground from which to preach on this as they do not hold the inviolability of the human person as sacrosanct anyway and are all (bar a very few) almost universally in favour of abortion and infanticide (partial birth). So those in glass houses...

Should the Church have reacted differently in a number of cases? Absolutely. Any alleged criminal act should be investigated by the criminal justice system. Period. Those who have committed these evil acts, should suffer the harshest judicial penalties and we should not be squeamish with regards to castration, chemical or otherwise - much as gaol removes from a person the right to their freedom because it has been abused, so I would hold that an argument could be made that those that abuse or violate another persons right to bodily inviolability, have forfeited the freedom or right to the gift of their sexuality. This applies equally to common rapists.

The fact is that less than 1 percent of all priests have been accused - let alone convicted of child abuse. Does it make any single case less objectionable and evil? No, but it helps us maintain some sort of reasonable perspective on the whole thing.

The frenzied media is hysterical that the Vatican or Benedict won't respond to them? My view is that the Vatican's position is correct. Why should they? The Church is neither answerable to the media and - given their history for their distorted portrayal on so many of the Church's teachings and aversion to facts - could hardly be trusted to accurately convey any message. So the Church has rightly chosen to respond to the people directly affected by means of pastoral letters to be read out in all parishes. I expect that we will therefore see one soon for the German Church following on the Irish example.

Priests should be held to a higher standard than rest of the faithful and humanity, as their vocation as leaders and the trust that is placed in them is immense and so at the Judgement the Bible reflects that they, as elders, will be judged more harshly than the rest of us.

This whole tragedy again reveals though the misplaced - understandable perhaps - but nevertheless misplaced and unrealistic view of clergy and pastors in general. They say people will leave the church in droves because of this? Maybe the immature. On one level this is no different from those that left the Christian faith when Bakker and Swaggart were found wanting and all of us know of many other local examples of scandal etc. by those entrusted to lead us. Somebody once remarked to me that the 'problem' was that we have had too many holy popes and I now know what he meant. It is a blessing to be sure to have been led by the likes of JPII, but our model is ultimately Christ. I am loathe to quote him, but just this once, to paraphrase the theologian Hans Kung:
‘I believe. Not in the Bible, but in the one to whom the Bible bears witness; not in the Tradition, but in the one whom the Tradition hands down; not in the Church, but in the one whom the Church proclaims.’

Or even, since I am being all ecumenical and inclusive, the Zen proverb:

Do not confuse the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


I recently had to go to Canberra for business and left it a little late to book accommodation, forgetting that with Parliament in session and the Golf Masters accommodation was really at a premium and I battled to find a place to stay for under $600 which would probably not have looked good on my business Amex expenses I reckon. Even the B&B's were full. Eventually I found one that had a spot. After I indicated that I wanted to book, the owner manager paused and said: 'You do know that these rooms are in railway carriages...?'
It was my turn to pause. Memories came flooding back of Knysna on the Garden Route of the Western Cape in South Africa where there is a place called The Caboose and where the whole motel / hotel is setup like railway compartments - impossibly small and where you stand on the toilet to shower.. I had little choice here and he assured me that you had a whole carriage to yourself so I accepted.

The actual place is called Last Stop Ambledown Brook which is in keeping with the railway theme and is set among wine farms overlooking a truly spectacular view of the surrounding vineyards:
The restored carriages were moved there, the owner told me using 60 ton cranes and then restored by him and his wife. My carriage was decorated in the theme of old movies and there are pictures and posters from old movies all over the carriage. It was immaculately clean and neat but a little unnerving. The first picture below is of the entrance to the carriage - a mannequin fully dressed like a fifties movies star welcomes you and then the bedroom is to the right and the rest of the lounge, dining room and kitchen to the left.
The bedroom really freaked me out. It was decorated like a star's dressing room with a fully set dressing table and everything was pink and frilly. Not pastel pink, you understand, but screaming pink. The bed reached almost to my chest and I climbed up and into it with a little difficulty, the sheets a darker brighter pink than the walls of that was possible.

The next morning, when I got up and walked through to the kitchen, the mannequin's high heeled shoe had fallen off - and I couldn't remember if had been on or off when I arrived. I bent down to pick it up and then thought better of it, thinking that I would rather ask the owners if the shoe was off or on. I ultimately decided against that as the whole thing was just too weird for me: what if they though I was kinky and had interfered with their mannequin? So I just left it off. When I looked at the photos I took when I first arrived the shoe had been on! O well whatever, I would never return to this place.

That morning as I packed up, about 20 to 30 Kangaroos with their joeys (baby kangaroos) on the hill nearby overlooking me, watched intently, their heads moving back and forth as though they were watching a tennis match, as I and walked back and forth from the carriage to the car, a few of the joeys running around in between them like kids bored at a show.

If you are looking for a different experience and a relaxing spot, a great place to stay and the couple who owns it is really lovely and very welcoming.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Time and Birthdays

I recently had my 21st Birthday. ;-) and I found a quote a friend of mine, Amy, had sent me last year, but which I had forgotten about. As I am getting older now it means a lot to me:
... we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless. ( Paul Bowles.)