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Church honours market over Gospel in abuse cases

Andrew Hamilton |  02 April 2014

George PellCardinal Pell was often described as the leader of the Australian Church. What he said and did was taken to represent the Australian Catholic Church. That sometimes annoyed Catholics from other states who saw their church as superior to the Sydney variety, and certainly did not recognise the Cardinal as their leader.

It does explain why his appearance at the Royal Commission was awaited with such interest and received such publicity. But in the event the hearings on the treatment of John Ellis were of far deeper significance than for what they revealed of the Cardinal's own role. It exposed a set of priorities and strategies until recently adopted by many Australian bishops, church bodies and leaders of religious congregations. They reflected an unwitting subscription to neoliberal ideology at the expense of the Christian Gospel.

In the Catholic Church, bishops and, in a more limited sphere, other religious leaders have three interlocking responsibilities. They are teachers of their people, encouraging them to appropriate the Gospel deeply and faithfully, and helping them reflect on its significance today. They are pastors of their people, providing for their spiritual needs and reaching out to the needy and the lost. They also administer the patrimony of the Church, ensuring that its personal and financial resources serve its mission.

These responsibilities are complex and rich in their scope, but can readily be reduced to something more manageable. Teaching can be reduced to enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy; pastoring, to maintaining order; administering the patrimony, to protecting and extending financial reserves. And the rich relationships involved in these responsibilities can be reduced to control, that unlovely amalgam of fear and power.

The story of Ellis' encounters with the Catholic Church suggests that, with a few notable exceptions, Sydney Church leaders did not see him primarily as a vulnerable person to whom they should reach out in compassion. They viewed him as a threat to the financial wellbeing of the Sydney Catholic Church. Even though it was recognised that he had been abused by a Catholic priest, the callous treatment he received was inspired by the desire to avoid large compensation payments.

The disturbing consequence of this strategy, adopted widely in the Catholic Church, is that Catholic leaders effectively accepted that human worth can be measured by economic price. They accepted that the priority of the Church lay in the market where its task was to preserve and enhance its financial resources. They accepted that the Church and Ellis were competitors in the market, and so adversaries.

They were also led by free market ideology to regard Ellis and the Catholic Church as individual players in the market who, despite their patent disparity in wealth, were equal players. And finally, they accepted that their legal representatives could do anything legal in order to protect the financial resources of the Church.

This acceptance was less a reflection of bad will than of the power of economic ideology to blind people to what matters. It led Church authorities finally to accept without outrage the legal advice that they should not engage personally with the people who had been abused by clergy because it might damage their interests in any litigation. People had to be treated as things, not as subjects, let alone the vulnerable fellow Christians whom representatives of their Church had wronged.

At the Royal Commission Pell more than once acknowledged that the treatment of Ellis was not Christian. That is worth dwelling on. Pope Francis has spelled out freshly the implications of being 'Christian'. It means going out and representing God's compassion to people on the margins of church and of society, and standing with those excluded from the table of the world. It means unmasking the ideology of economic liberalism in which the enrichment of the rich and the impoverishment of the poor are acceptable and unavoidable.

It means that the patrimony of the Church is to serve the mission of the Church to go out to the vulnerable, not a fortress from which the vulnerable are to be repelled.

From this perspective Pell's full apology at the Royal Commission, his subsequent meeting with Ellis and his review of compensation were of more than personal significance. They offer freedom to Catholics to reflect, as Francis has done, on what the proclamation of the Gospel entails in Australia, on how to go out to the vulnerable on the edge of society and church, and inevitably to come to see the malign effects of the economic ideology that places wealth above people.

Andrew Hamilton headshotAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street.

Piggy bank image from Shutterstock



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Submitted comments

'control, that unlovely amalgam of fear and power.' Pastoral relationships within churches are, by their very nature, so different from other relationships in a person's life. It's often quite a formalised relationship with clear definitions. Control, even when subtly exerted, can corrode trust - and yet these relationships do require a certain type of control. I think this is where not just the Catholic Church but other churches as well often come unstuck. People who go to church and enter pastoral relationships with clergy aren't always poor, they aren't always on the margins, they don't always fit a particular profile. They are complex individuals. John Ellis was treated as someone to be controlled at all costs and, I fear, that may have been his greatest hurt. We can hope valuable lessons have been learned.

Pam 02 April 2014

Well put. Pity Abbott and Pell haven't read and internalised

John 02 April 2014

A concern I have is that it took Peter McClellan to show the Church's response was immoral according to the Church's own beliefs, and that the principles of common law offered a moral response. Where was the outcry of the moral theologians in academia? The canary has shown the culture throughout the church is truly in need of radical reform. This may be beyond the ken and capacity of the current leadership.

patrick wright 03 April 2014

Pell did not, probably could not, look at John Ellis while making his apology, which I think was meant for Roman ears more than it was for Ellis. I wonder if Pell and the Bishops like him stop to realise that they have bankrupted the Church's moral capital while trying to protect the cash? Bishops like him, and they are many, are simply theologically and scripturally bankrupt. They simply do not understand those essential tools to faith. They fail the real Christianity test!

John Dobson 03 April 2014

Well done Andy - you are at the cutting edge yet again! At last we are getting commentary on current and future implications of the information and attitudes revealed in past weeks by the Royal Commission - David Marr (The Guardian), Michael Pascoe (Fairfax) and Mungo MacCallum (Byron Echo) have clearly outlined non-Christian behaviour of Catholic clergy, employees and hired lawyers. Your contribution is one of the first Catholic commentaries to analyse and highlight more than simply Card. Pell's actions but "a set of priorities and strategies until recently adopted by many Australian bishops, church bodies and leaders of religious congregations (which) reflected an unwitting subscription to neoliberal ideology at the expense of the Christian Gospel." What a blessing is Evangalii Gaudium - how we look forward to Francis' plea that we, and all Australian clerics, give full attention to all aspects of heeding exhortations to hope, joy and Christian action - "the implications of being Christian." Thanks again, Andy, for your thoughtful, hopeful reflection - and encouragement.

Kevinof 03 April 2014

Interesting spin. It is not about some passive acceptance by the Church leaders. Rather it is about their choice and decisions. They didn't accept their legal advice. They instructed their lawyers to act. Why make the lawyers the scapegoats for the client's own decisions and instructions?

Ross 03 April 2014

A beautiful summary Andrew, thank you.

Wayne Brabin 03 April 2014

Thanks Andrew. This piece adds much to the necessary ongoing dialogue we need to have as a Church about these painful issues. It illustrates also the dearth of such comment as a feature of regular public conversation to better inform the people of God & hopefully others.

Brian Larsson 03 April 2014

The mindset of Cardinal Pell is what troubles me. Once Ellis was cast in the role of threat and enemy, then his elimination becomes palatable. In the jigsaw those pieces do not fit well with respecting Ellis's human dignity or achieving the common good. Those within the hierarchy would do well to canvas the possibility that there are wrong before the event rather than acknowledging that they were wrong after the event. The evidence that the hierarchy have changed their mindsets is not apparent but we are bound to live in hope. Hopefully Pope Francis’s approach of seeking good rather than trying to eliminate evil may help transform those who hold authority.

Kim 03 April 2014

Thank you for this article will this be in the main catholic papers at the church door even newsletters in all. churches. its time the truth be told its like Lazarus and the poor. man and the gate. hang on tp the money at all costs. not what Jesus would do

irena 03 April 2014

A helpful analysis, Andy, that puts the Pell evidence to the Royal Commission on the Ellis case into its proper perspective, which is effectively a terrible indictment of our Church’s deliberate actions contrary to the teachings of Christ. However, you have not called this behaviour what it is, namely hypocrisy. The Royal Commission has clearly exposed this hypocrisy in the Church, which has deliberately and publicly impugned the reputation of an acknowledged sexual victim of Fr Duggan as a means of protecting the finances and reputation of the institution while preaching the teachings of Christ. And this is only one case! You suggest that “Pell's full apology at the Royal Commission, his subsequent meeting with Ellis and his review of compensation were of more than personal significance.” I’m afraid the head-down apology and avoidance of eye contact with Ellis seemed to me to be simply doing what it takes to recover some of the Church’s reputation. We Catholics have to accept some responsibility for the state of our Church and start to expect accountability and Christ-likeness from our leaders.

Peter Johnstone 03 April 2014

I think the real issue of the Pell disaster needs to be highlighted. It is clear that Pell has been a failure as a Bishop and leader of the church in our era. He himself admitted it. But let us not think it is simply the issue of Pell, Bishops like him, and those priests and church officials who transgressed the values so blatantly. When Jesus call himself the Good Shepherd, he did it in a time when shepherds were thieves and robbers because of the very low, below poverty line wage, they were given. Jesus makes the point that even the people they hated and mistrusted had some good in them, and it was not the individual who was a sinner, but the culture and the system that formed them. The culture of slavery thought that slavery was OK! I think Francis has it right when he speaks of the evil of clericalism and its culture. There is no point in focusing on the individual, sinful failures as they may be, until the culture that forms and produces them is in fact eradicated. To do this, the monarchical Imperial episcopate must be phased out in favour of a faith leadership role that is subject to the normal corporate checks and balances, and is for a set term. This means giving up the so-called sacramental importance of the person of the Bishop who supposedly can be trusted with the absolute ruling and leadership of the church. We all know that the myth has now been exploded! The broadening of ministerial leadership in the church, will be an essential tool in breaking down the male introverted clerical culture that France believes is the evil in the church. Pell talks about the importance of governance. Let me assure him that governance can never be individual, but must be corporate so that many eyes and views are in fact supervising. When we put governance and management in the one person, which we do with bishops, it will always fail!

John Dobson 03 April 2014

Thank you...the crux of the whole matter has been..."...to accept without outrage".

Caroline Storm 03 April 2014

I'm with John Dobson - but thanks Andrew. Pell's refusal to look at Ellis - feet away - said it all. Worse, the apology was in the third person, not " I/we seek forgiveness as we apologise to you and your injured wife". That's a "full" apology. Now, this adherence to neoliberal values. Who said it's unwitting? Blesssed are the expensive, legally rarified loophole Defendants for theirs are the centuries of accrued assets and wealth out of reach of wounded victims, save, of course for grotesque lousy bread-crumbs from the table as we might dispense.

Peter Wearne 03 April 2014

Thank you, Andrew, for this wise reflection, and the clarity of thought and language you display. What a contrast to the confected dramatization and sensationalist reporting in the vast majority of our media.

Alfred P Zarb 03 April 2014

As a Catholic school teacher of Religious Education, sitting with a class of young children possibly the age Ellis was when his life was destroyed in the name of the Catholic, Church, and God, I feel pretty much like the Royal Commission has as least shone enough light to see a couple of cockroaches scurry from out of the darkness. Thank you to all those who tried their best in this process.

Val 03 April 2014

As always a very thought provoking article, Andrew. That Pell, a Vatican Roman to the core, has been appointed to, and accepted the role of tidying up the Vatican's finances, shows that he is where his heart really is.... protecting the Church's finances. One hopes that this commission's enquiry has reminded him of what is most important?

Maureen Walsh 03 April 2014

Good morning, Andrew. Today's article is understandably heartfelt and I agree with its sentiment regarding the Church's management of the diabolical scourge of sexual abuse by clergy - or anyone else for that matter. It raises a very interesting question, put using your words. If Eureka Street authorities were sued, would they "accept without outrage the legal advice that they should not engage personally the people [who had good reason to sue them] because it might damage their intersests in any litigation"? Such advice is pretty standard in this country as is the advice not to engage or influence any witness. What the Church (Cardinal Pell ) might have done was decide not to enter a defence when served, in which case a judgement would be made by the court against the Church in favour of Mr Ellis. I suspect most of us would rely on the legal advice. Perhaps the Law should take its share of the blame even though the lawyers have acted in the combative spirit of the legal system. Maybe it is time for the critics to move on - we have all been over and over it many times and will achieve nothing by that. Perhaps it is time to forgive - for Christ's sake.

john frawley 03 April 2014

A reasonable analysis of the case of Ellis who was cast in the role of threat and enemy. But what explains the Church's response to the other battalions of victims who represented no commercial threat but who were vulnerable and needed compassion - but received none?

Frank Golding 03 April 2014

Much of the hurt and pain suffered by Catholics, who were not themselves victims of predatory priests, stems from our acceptance over many generations of the Church's presentation of itself as 'our holy mother, the Church' and the 'Mystical body of Christ'. Catholics must learn to re-align religious focus on God or, if it is easier, Jesus, and remember that the Church is simply the religious tradition into which 'I' or 'we' was/were born or chose to join. Along with many other religious traditions in the world, the Catholic Church has proven itself to be self-serving when faced with the choice of active compassion for those injured by its clerics or focussing on the bottom line and preservation of its 'good name'. While Andrew has correctly focussed on the Catholic Church in Sydney, Australia, we know this abuse by clerics has occurred in the Catholic Church in other nations, in other Christian Churches, and in other World Faiths. Focussing religious faith on the institution instead of attempting to focus directly on God allows clericalism to develop. Within clericalism the minority of clerics feel free to abuse children and other vulnerable people with impunity.

Ian Fraser 03 April 2014

I’m at a loss to see the link Fr H insists upon between the immoral actions of the Sydney Catholic hierarchy and economic liberalism. Economic liberalism holds that, human nature being what it is, low taxes, and minimal government intervention in economic affairs beyond the enforcement of the rights to private property and life, afford the optimal conditions for the elimination of systemic poverty and the creation of wealth. I know of no prominent liberal economist who has even remotely suggested that creating or hanging on to one’s material wealth at all costs, à la the Sydney Catholic hierarchy, is a component of the value system of economic liberalism. Likewise, I know of no such thinkers who proffer the frankly weird idea that one’s opponent in a court dispute should as such be regarded as a “player in the market”, as, again, the Sydney hierarchy is alleged to have done. Leftists here at E.S. will no doubt be anxious to rescue me from the fell darkness in which I’m trapped by documenting these obnoxious tenets in the works of Mises, Hayek, Rothbard and so on. I must have overlooked them in my reading over the past forty years. But if no citations are forthcoming … ho hum, it’s yet another straw man from the left.

HH 03 April 2014

Sadly, the people who detest institutions honouring the market when they should have instead refrained from doing so, have been caught doing it themselves!

Tony 03 April 2014

There are perhaps questions even deeper than how did this scandal itself come about. It is how Catholic culture was captured and distorted by anti-liberal traditionalist/conservative forces over 4 decades; the process of how Pell and his ilk got to such positions in the Church in the first place? It reaches into the decision at Vatican level to appoint only bishops that would support the "traditional" positions on sexual ethics and especially on contraception as the single overwhelming criterion for "advancement". None of this was based on love, theology or pastoral care, but on POWER; the mainentance of the authority of the magisterium at all costs. But it also includes how the traditionalist party behaved locally over the past 30 years...including the attempt to close down the Vatican 2 flowering of the church, the hounding out of more moderate people from the Church`s cogs, the tittle-tattle delation about their enemies to friends in authority in Rome etc etc. Indeed, whatever it took; the ends justifying the means. It is very worrying that these "neo-catholic" cultural values are alive and well in the current cabinet, Indeed the Pell legacy on Australian politics may well prove as harmful to the Catholic brand and cause as what we have seen played out at the Royal Commission.

Eugene 03 April 2014

Thanks,Andy, for a very clear reflection on what this issue implies for us all as Church!

Gerard Rummery 03 April 2014

Andrew. Thank you for your analysis presented without fear or favour. What a grubby contradiction of the gospel those finance protection polices have been!

Brian Gleeson 03 April 2014

HH Hugh Henry, I am with you on this one. I also cannot see the connection between economic liberalism and the Ellis affair. Perhaps a better description of the milieu that gave rise to the actions in the curial office might be Market Fundamentalism. Economics is not my speciality and perhaps Fr Hamilton is also writing about a field he only has a passing interest. From my limited knowledge of the discipline it seems that its best economic liberalism can be a force for good and at its worst Market Fundamentalism can crush those it is meant to serve. I am very much open to correction on this view. That said I think we can agree that the actions of the Archdiocese towards Ellis were very far from the dictates of the gospel. I think you are correct however in that it is a very long bow to associate economic liberalism with this particular catastrophic systems failure.

John Francis Collins 03 April 2014

To all the critics of Cardinal Pell, the last paragraph of Andrew Hamilton "From his perspective Pell's full apology at the Royal Commission, his subsequent meeting with Ellis and his review of compensation were more than personal significance" and the last paragraph of John Frawly "Maybe it is time for the critics to move on-we have all been over and over it many times and will achieve nothing by that. Perhaps it is time to forgive-for Christ's sake". Amen

Ron Cini 03 April 2014

Thank you Andrew for this insightful piece. I have to question though why you write "It exposed a set of priorities and strategies until recently adopted by many Australian bishops, church bodies and leaders of religious congregations." Until recenlty? As I write this there are court cases currently being conducted, despite all the admissions and regrets expressed last week, which are following identical tactics of the past. This includes resisting overturning deeds, resisting extending statutes of limitation and using the Ellis defence to continue to protect trustees. The past is still present. And this situation includes cases being conducted by ones who appeared the most compassionate in recent times. Most disillusioning.

Jennifer Herrick 03 April 2014

While I agree that the Church's conduct in this instance was deplorable, the idea that a particular approach to economics is to blame for the Church's abject failure of charity here is nonsense and releases the Church from its responsibilities too readily.

Luke 03 April 2014

Obviously the voice of lawyers and accountants was louder than that of Jesus.

hilary 03 April 2014

Before we start pointing fingers at the traditionalism or conservatism of bishops for these errors, we should remember that in this area, liberals have demonstrated the ability to circle the clerical wagons as fast as any conservative or traddie. Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles is just one that springs to mind.

HH 03 April 2014

The introduction of chatter about economic theories of Liberal capitalism and the 'time to move on' rhetoric are typical of the DB strategies of diversion which NCR has finally woken up to and now controls. The issue here, Andrew, is not the worth or otherwise of Cdl Pell's apology or the amount of monetary compensation going out to victims. The underlying issue is that the clerical subculture within the People of God is not 'the Church.' It is an indulged and, despite the apologias, is self-serving and self-interest protected boys club. Over centuries this clericalist subculture which, as the late Robert Neuhaus said prior to his death, confuses its sacral function, affirmed in Canon Law, with exemptions it claims but cannot presume in civil law. There are still legions of clerics and lay camp followers like Bill Donohue who maintain the validity of this clerical special status and will not admit that something is fundamentally wrong and systemically so. Even Pope Francis was an apologist for this decaying corpse when in an address recently he took the minimalist and very defensive position on clerical involvement in CSA. His speech sounded to me as if it had been ghost written by Cdls Pell and Maradiaga.

David Timbs 03 April 2014

What seems to have been forgotten in the host of reflections on the evidence produced at the Commission that highlights the appalling attitudes and behaviour of the Church and several of its leaders, is a plan to offer ongoing compassion and support for the survivors, families and supporters. How about a warm embrace and cheers for the most public victims, John Ellis and the Fosters. They have allowed themselves and their stories to be featured in media worldwide. What suffering, what courage, what determination for justice. May the Lord's peace go with you.

Garry Eastman 03 April 2014

And yet Pell did not consider what his stand has/had done to himself. It has concerned many readers of his evidence at the Royal Commission that he was unaware of the stance he took in Melbourne, and which he "perfected" in Sydney, left him devoid of understanding and compassion until confronted by a secular enquiry. Given that he uses/used the sacrament of penance during this time one would have to wonder about the competence of his Confessor or of Pell's understanding of his failings in such a public and important area. It isn't just Pell who is of concern here but also all those connected to him including Papal Nuncios and fellow Bishops who he consulted about his actions in the area of abuse. No Pell is just the public face of a group of Church leaders in the Roman Catholic Church that decided to worship money and not God. The ongoing concern is that all the other faceless men are still running and operating the Australian arm of the Catholic Church. This means that they are still free to refuse to rectify the past damage done to victims and their families. What chance is there for change?

Laurie 03 April 2014

Thank you Father Hamilton for clarifying the important deficits and the tragic situation portrayed in the "Ellis" case. It makes me feel so distressed & ashamed as a Catholic that our Church has behaved in such an unchristian manner. Why and how could any of our officials from the our most senior clerics down to an endless number of church officials put this man through such suffering, and blatant injustice? We need a secular Judge and the Royal Commission to show us "the way". I hope healing and real justice comes to Mr. Ellis very soon. Margaret M.Coffey

Margaret M.Coffey 04 April 2014

Maybe I am hard . Yes there is an apology . Yes the cardinal squirmed and wriggled in his discomfort under questioning. I here the word apology. I don't hear any expression of shame and that is what I need to hear and really feel. I see the shame in downcast eyes and I see it distanced in the failure of matching words. I need to feel and hear that congruent expression of shame from him because the hurts and shunning have been experienced at the deepest spiritual and feeling level. They went for John Ellis and in the process abused again all those who have been abused. The only way I know to describe that is shameful.

john 04 April 2014

John Dobson writes that Cardinal Pell has been a failure as a bishop and leader of the church in our era. It seems that many others are of this view. Whilst I agree that he has been a failure as bishop/priest of The Church, the People of God, he has been eminently successful as a leader/member of the hierarchical/clerical church, the church of the ordained. This is confirmed by his appointment to the Vatican. Pope Francis must see some value in the Cardinal to give him such a promotion. Hopefully it will instill in the Cardinal a vigour for the New Evangelisation commencing with the people of God as fellow Catholics equal before God. The power structure, from Rome to my humble parish. It is outdated and hopelessly obstructive in building up the People of God.As to Cardinal , may we extend to him the charity that he denied to and obstructed for others, including the abused.

George C. 04 April 2014

Somehow the compassion of Christ and then by the Church has got lost in legal wrangling. Surely the leaders of the church should be seeing and living the example of Christ and putting that first before thinking what it is going to cost the Church. There was never any doubt that John Ellis had been wronged and once that was accepted then compassion should have been forthcoming.

Lesley Wilkinson 04 April 2014

A few comments in response to the very helpful comments on my article. As many have said, the main story must be the sufferings of those abused and its effective prevention of abuse in future, not the contradictions within the Catholic church. I do admire the high skills of those who can identify precisely interior feelings and dispositions from the bodily gestures of strangers. I only wish I were so gifted. Thanks HH and others for taking up my reference to free market and neoliberal economics. I did refer each time to ideology and not theory. I take ideology to describe a working view of the world that guides our actions. This retains the central metaphors of theory, but in a sharpened and simplified form. So, for example, marxist ideology is not identical with what Marx or his followers wrote. As I see free market or neoliberal ideology, it rests on an inadequate view of human freedom that focuses on individual freedom from constraint, and does not recognise that individual well-being depends on others. It therefore sees the market as bringing together in competition individuals whose goal is to make profit for themselves. Firms have no social responsibility, but are accountable only to their shareholders. It is not right for for governments to regulate the economy in the interests of the common good, which includes the distribution of wealth and power in society. Where this ideology is accepted, society suffers as wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of the few. I agree it is absurd to see the treatment of Mr Ellis as a market for justice, but isn’t that how the Catholic Church organised it? And of course it is also absurd to speak of a market in education, denominational allegiance, ideas, water and body parts. But isn’t that how people speak of them? Free market ideology is alive, well and bad for your health.

Andy Hamilton 04 April 2014

It pays to read all the comments. I felt the onset of a heart attack at the idea that I would have to agree with HH! But then I read Father Andrew’s comment in which he explains his references. In a nutshell: I don’t think the psychology operating in episcopal suppression of abuse complaints is primarily about economics. In the case of Cardinal Mahoney it might be a number of things, any of them unacceptable. In the case of Cardinal Pell, what odds the underlying conviction typical of those who think Roman Catholicism is the last eschatological word: viz. “the RC church is right even when it’s wrong!” or, perhaps more correctly in the Cardinal’s case, more a case of “the RC must not be seen to be wrong even when it is!”

Stephen K 04 April 2014

Thanks Andy for your considered perspective. This issue highlights the need for reform in the church. I have not heard of any reform plan from the Australian bishops. Card. Martini said the church was 200 years behind the times. For one: bishops act like medieval lords rather than pastors. After sexual abuse, the next forthcoming tsunami is that of the abuse of money - the lack of transparency and accountability within the church. Tighten your seatbelts! Gideon

Gideon Goosen 06 April 2014

In addition to protecting the patrimony of the church, I suggest the hierarchy had canon law on their minds which required them to treat paedophilia complaints as 'secrets of the holy office'. I suspect they were fearful of papal censure if they disregarded CL prescriptions and treated complaints with open respect. Shine the light on canon law and its attachments.

John Casey 06 April 2014

Fr H – thanks for your response. Once again: who are these market ideologues, as distinct from the theorists? The IPA? CIS? Gina Rinehart? Names and direct quotations, please - I’ve been called a market ideologue or its equivalent many times by leftists, whilst having ridiculous clichés placed on my lips. Speaking of clichés: which market ideologues intone that ‘individual well-being doesn’t depend on others’? They’ve missed out on, arguably, the central insight of free market economics! I don’t expect them to know that the future Pope Leo XIII wrote of the greatest 19th c French free market economist, Frederick Bastiat: “A celebrated French economist has clearly explained the many benefits that society brings to man; and that marvel is worthy of our attention.” But it’s amazing that for all their fervour, they haven’t come across works such as that foundational classic of free market literature (thought? ideology?), Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil”, which brilliantly demonstrates how the humble lead pencil depends for its existence on an unfathomable array of ideas and co-operation amongst humans, facilitated by free exchange. (It’s online via Google.) Your observations about ideology are fair enough. But there are limits: why call someone a “Marxist” ideologue if he were oblivious to The Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital and contradicted their basic ideas? I could comment likewise on the other ascriptions, but space prevents. Finally, I’m still not convinced that the actions of the Sydney Catholic hierarchy should be attributed to anything more ideological than that human impulse, as old as the Fall, to cover one’s rear end at all costs. (P.S. Why is it absurd to speak of a market for water? I have a bottle of “Pump Pure Water” next to me as I write!)

HH 07 April 2014

Stephen K, just spare a thought for me. I live with that dread prospect all my waking hours.

HH 07 April 2014

Thy kindom come, thy will be done -on earth as it is in heaven? If market capitalism leads us to heaven, stop me at the gates, St Peter.

AURELIUS 07 April 2014

Thanks Andrew for an excellent analysis of how the Sydney Archdiocese at the highest level dealt with clerical abuse. If only Pell had listened to Bishop Geoffrey Robinson.

Wayne J McMillan 08 April 2014

Totally futile for the likes of me to express my analysis when all has been adequately treated .However I must plead that someone with appropriate connections should ensure that audio & video transcripts of Pell performance at the Royal Commission reliably get to Pope Francis .Surely once viewed by him he would be compelled to cancel the considerable elevation of George Pell to the Vatican and in fact dismiss him .If the imaginative ,totally untested case against Bishop Bill Morris warranted his dismissal & the Royal Commission admissions by Pell are not justly used by Pope Francis ,our till now very positive opinions of him will be shattered .

john kersh 09 April 2014

Mr Kersh sir, Cdl Pell apolgised; Bishop Morris showed no remorse whatsoever re his trivialising of infallible teaching on male priests[and other wacky ideas] In 2006 Morris released a pastoral letter calling for discussion of the ordination of married men and the ordination of women to compensate for the lack of priests in his large diocese. The ACBC noted diplomatically “it was judged that there were problems of doctrine and discipline, and we regret that these could not be resolved. We are hopeful that Bishop Morris will continue to serve the Church in other ways in the years ahead”

Father John George 09 April 2014

Sorry Father John but bishop Bill did not breach the dogmas etc ,he simply tried to begin a conversation around the issues of married clergy etc . Surely no one so locked in protocol as you appear to be could condone the absurd enquiry conducted by Archbishop Capput who seemingly simply had to take a scalp . I am obliged to stick to my belief ( stated long before the dismissal ) that Bishop Bill's fate was sealed when he defied the directives from Rome to the world's Bishops to deny duty of care to victims of clerical & religious abuse .He pledged that his Diocese would offer whatever victim support was required ,even if it was necessary to liquidate Church assets .In other words reverse the elements in the Title of Andrew's article .

john kersh 09 April 2014

Mr Kersch sir, A Vatican decree to bishops to deny duty of care to victims belies facts: #The "Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations" to all bishops . "The local bishop always retains power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest in his diocese." Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed. "The question of damages can also be treated directly during these procedures." Some cases can be referred directly to the Pope, who can issue a decree of dismissal from the priesthood ex officio. Other disciplinary measures short of dismissal are available where the priest has undertaken to live a life of prayer and penance, but he can be dismissed if he breaks the conditions imposed.

Father John George 12 April 2014

"Covering one's rear end at all cost" is exactly what liberal market economics is all about - it's gutless and selfish much of the time and not what you'd expect from a bishop - an archbishop - a head pastor who's meant to be looking out for others - not himself and his internal church money/status issues. Imagine if Jesus, the martyrs and saints had that attitude when faced with injustices and the dangers associated with sticky up for others in the face of powerful interests. Talk less of high-falluting philosophical ideas and come back down to earth, people!

AURELIUS 25 April 2014

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Deeper dysfunction behind the Ellis case

Tim Wallace | 03 April 2014

Aidan DugganIn 2004, two years into the Sydney Archdiocese's botched handling of a sexual abuse complaint against Fr Aidan Duggan, the executive director of the Church's National Committee for Professional Standards did something extraordinary: he inquired into whether Duggan, prior to joining the Archdiocese in 1974, had form. It is the only evidence of a Church official actively attempting to check Duggan's past — an attempt destined to fail.

South African lessons about racial discrimination

Andrew Hamilton | 27 March 2014

'Whites only by order' sign attached to a park benchThe South African experience suggests racial discrimination begins with the appropriation of wealth and power by one racial group and its consequent suppression of other groups in order to extend its wealth and power. If we are to address racial prejudice and discrimination we need to examine the way in which wealth and power are distributed and protected in society. In Australia, they are being concentrated increasingly in fewer hands.

Faiths fight forced marriage

Ashleigh Green | 21 March 2014

Participants in dialogue at the NSW interfaith forum on forced marriageThis week's inauguration of Twiggy Forrest's Global Freedom Network — a large-scale interfaith initiative to end slavery — publicly recognises the importance of interfaith collaboration as a means of understanding and addressing social issues. Its launch comes not long after an Australian-first interfaith forum about the issue of forced marriage. It included Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Jews, and discovered that forced marriage is not a Muslim issue.

Asylum seeker ethics is simple

Andrew Hamilton | 20 March 2014

Ethics for Dummies book coverAsked whether they think the government's treatment of asylum seekers is right, some people will withhold judgment, arguing that the question is ethically complex; asylum seeker policy must take into account many issues, and an ethical judgment must await consideration of all these factors. This position is mistaken. The ethical questions are quite simple. The complexities and confusions arise only after we have answered them.