Corrupt churches need women leaders

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Lord Acton said that 'Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' It was in correspondence about the then pope's proposed new doctrine of papal infallibility. It is often overlooked that he added, 'Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.'

Dr Kathleen McChesney with Truth, Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis SullivanWhen I was a child, the greatest misuse of priestly power imputed to the 'RCs' was the sometimes brutal violence used in the 'care' of disobedient pupils, unmarried mothers, illegitimate and 'removed' children and orphans in institutions run by nuns, brothers and priests.

Thanks to brave individuals and independent journalists, the sexual abuse permitted and distributed by some of these hands has been revealed in Australian parliamentary inquiries and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It is unfair to profile the one, Catholic Church for the sins of so many more whose patriarchal culture and authoritarian practices are shared by those who professed to 'suffer the little children to come unto me ... for of such are the kingdom of heaven'.

Yet former bishops and archbishops have told the Commission that, yes, the Church failed its duty, protecting its reputation, wealth and ordained at the cost of children and complainants. Fairfax claimed the Melbourne Response saved the Church at least $62 million, by capping the amount payable to a fraction of what complainants would have been awarded had they not been dissuaded from suing.

It is increasingly apparent that the Church's moral failure to address the worm in its heart has poisoned the vine. By their fruits you shall know them.

*****

I am a laywoman, and in the Catholic Church could never be ordained.

Like many women, I am active, as a spiritual director and retreat leader. As well, over the last decade I was briefly responsible for receiving complaints about professional standards in the Anglican diocese of Melbourne, and am currently a member of a professional standards committee for one of the Catholic orders. The majority of its members are women. They are laity, busy, unpaid, and without power.

And thereby is some hope. Since Vatican II, successive popes have pledged a greater role for the laity to work with those who are ordained, and Pope Francis has emphasised respect for women religious, and some hope for long-squelched leadership roles for women.

The Vatican bureaucracy is not pleased with this, or with women's views on small matters such as admitting the divorced to the Eucharist.

There is a traditional culture of brotherhood in the upper echelons of the Church at every level. There is also a natural urge to homosocial reproduction in its instrumentalities.

If I have learned anything from my work with companies and organisations on cultural change, it is that these comfortable cultures need to be broken up, because they are, as Lord Acton said, so readily corrupted. Narrowly defined, corruption means people use their position and authority for personal rather than the church's benefit (that is, the whole church, not just its office holders). 

More broadly, it refers to any violation of ethical and legal rules even when there is no personal gain, as in perjury, turning a blind eye, bending the rules, using violence to silence nay-sayers, wildcards and whistleblowers, or covering up physical and sexual misconduct, theft, and discrimination.

The Royal Commission has revealed a corruption of compassion within the culture of Christian institutions, which strikes at the heart of their mission and spirituality. There is also, within most churches I believe, a culture of acceptance of 'noble-cause corruption'; that is, illegal actions undertaken to achieve laudable ends, in this case, protection of the institution itself.

This is one of the ills already addressed in the US. In 2014 the Australian Jesuit Province arranged a vist from Kathleen McChesney (pictured with Truth, Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan), a former executive assistant director for the FBI, who had been employed by the American Bishops Conference to establish a system to deal effectively with preventing, and protecting children from, sexual and other abuse.

It is evident over ten years that there has been genuine progress in easing out corrupt, incompetent or cowardly church officials there. Even within a clerical culture of loyalty towards brothers and fathers in a hierarchical organisation, it was possible to create a structural and procedural framework which had reduced the actual incidence of offending.

Women do most of the hard work in parishes and form the majority of active parishioners. They know they have no authority. They are outsiders. Some are choosing to ignore what priests say and judge them by what they do.

The best way to change such a culture is therefore to start giving women positions of real influence and respect — outsiders see what insiders cannot, causing interruptions to the easy transitions of assumed and unquestioned authority, and groupthink.

Including women and thusly diversity at every level breaks up consensus and challenges noble corruption-fostering cultures. These challenges will be unwelcome but they are necessary if churches are to embody a gospel of love and protection of the marginalised and undervalued.

  



Moira RaynerMoira Rayner is a barrister and writer.

 

Topic tags: Moira Rayner, Royal Commission, sex abuse, child abuse, Catholic Church, Kathleen McChesney

 

 

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Existing comments

If there is a god then organised religion in its current form can hardly be what he or she had in mind!
Laurie Patton | 14 December 2015


I agree that the Laity should stake its claim of Authority, according to the tenets of Vatican II. However, any notion of female priests should be discounted, immediately. Within the Catholic Church, the lineage of male priests has been continuous since Melchizedek, the king mentioned in the Book of Genesis. (Apparently, he was the first person to be given the title 'Kohen' [priest] in the Hebrew Bible). This "call to arms" is not simply "women's work": transparency must be imposed on an archaic and secretive hierarchy. For the sake of the children, this can be achieved on various administrative levels by involving independent, but equal, parties: (1) parent, principal & priest; (2) P&F school association, school council & parish council; and (3) State Federation of P&F Associations; Catholic Education Office and Archdiocese. This is the tripartite framework which could encourage transparency and facilitate methods of self-correction to the Catholic School Systems.
Bob GROVES | 14 December 2015


Two of the principles of power within the Church should be weakness and interdependence. Being last is also one of those principles. So, those who wield power without those principles within churches are following their own agenda. Influence and respect are much more inclusive terms. I have to wonder just how many loving, accepting women the church has lost, or never made connection with, because of its paternalistic culture.
Pam | 14 December 2015


"Homosocialisation of its instrumentalities" is a phrase that does not appear in Moira Rayner's article, although it is part of the editorial introduction. The lady;s literary reputation deserves that she not be associated with this awkward wording.
grebo | 14 December 2015


Great article, without inclusion of all stake holders in positions of leadership we will never see real reform. Let's pray for more enlightenment.
Rosemary Tuohey | 14 December 2015


'There is a traditional culture of brotherhood in the upper echelons of the Church at every level.' As someone who used to be part of that brotherhood, this statement pretty much sums up the traditional situation in the Catholic Church which Moira so succinctly exposes.
john bartlett | 14 December 2015


Check again, Grebo - par 11, 'homosocial reproduction in its instrumentalities', as per the wording in the intro. Nothing awkward about that wording as far as I can tell.
Tim Kroenert, Acting Editor | 14 December 2015


A punchy article Moira. Then again, with what we have been subject to of late by watching the reality of how the powerful behave through what is being revealed in the Royal Commission, there is a call for not pulling the punches. It has become clear to many that the greatest impediment to the spreading of the message of Jesus of Nazareth is the arrogance and grandiosity of those who proper to be the messengers. My own struggle with the church today is how I manage to channel my rage, embarrassment, disbelief and horror at what is being revealed. These are some of the negative energies that require transformation in the face of what we all believed was a font of transformation. For me, there is the fruit of the suffering as we dig deeper in search for revelation, cosmic companionship and union in compassion. Ahh, the irony of it all.
Vic O'Callaghan | 14 December 2015


".. these comfortable cultures need to be broken up, because they are, as Lord Acton said, so readily corrupted."..... Such corruption stems from corrupted Tradition. Tradition, by definition, was formulated and established in bygone days when situations were very different. In a 'dog-eat dog' situation, survival was paramount, and it was men who were best equipped to fight off enemies, and men who could best be spared to die for the survival of the communities. Women were generally absorbed in the having and rearing of the next generation and usually received no formal education. Situations are now changed, but the traditional comfortable patriarchy has not adapted to the changes and despite the criticism by Jesus of Nazareth of 'man-made traditions', the comfortable (to men) tradition of men holding all(?) the power, has prevailed. Perhaps we need a new St Catherine of Sienna, and a new St Teresa of Avila to rise to the occasion.
Robert Liddy | 14 December 2015


i don't agree with the major premise of the article. Lord Acton's second sentence would (had anybody asked him) have applied equally to great women. He knew about Catherine the Great. I didn't when I was young, and believed the world would be a better place if women ran it. But that was before Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher. The arguments for women being excluded from any positions in the church are (pace Bob) absurd. Melchizedek has nothing in common with the local PP except his plumbing. The silliest argument was the one about Christ not choosing any women for apostles. Even assuming that was true, it omitted to notice that he chose no Italians, Africans, Russians or (presumably) black people either. So by all means give women their proper place in all aspects of life without any distinctions But don't imagine it will be a cure-all. Power corrupts everyone. It is the power structure that must be changed, not the sex of those who run it.
oldg | 14 December 2015


Tim, the original is even worse than my misquote. However one of the joys of reading Eureka Street is the literary quality of the writing including your own reviews. i guess my surprise at, what I considered to be verbose, motivated my quick response.
grebo | 14 December 2015


Yet (for this particular issue anyway) there is arguably a limitation in the feminine approach. On the one hand we had a male culture in the Church which, as Eureka Street exposed many years ago, tacitly acknowledged the idea of 'kissable kids', almost seeing them as temptation to vulnerable men. This is still as far as I can see an 'unspeakable truth' for many. On the other hand we now have a feminine approach to the problem that (with obvious justification) sees protection of the vulnerable as the primary objective. This culture too has its limitations, since it is essentially based on fear rather than on a searching look at right relations. We are still at the relatively primitive stage of seeking scapegoats. There are certainly plenty available!
Margaret | 14 December 2015


Yes, there is "a traditional culture of brotherhood" in the Catholic Church's hierarchy - one commissioned by Christ himself in calling the Twelve for a special role within the ecclesial community that grew around him under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We should be wary of confusing terms like patriarchy and brotherhood with the abuse of them by some, proceeding to restructure the Church according to our own agenda in a way not recognisable from sacred scripture and tradition.I do not share the author's negative presumption about the inability of the Church's hierarchy to implement necessary reform without ordaining women to the priesthood.
John | 14 December 2015


You are completely correct Moira. Group think through lack of diversity and counter perspectives has been the root cause of the corruption of compassion - a beautiful phrase that I am going to steal - in the Church's failure to deal with the life- destroying crime and heinous evil of child sexual rape and abuse. The continuation of the 'clerical boys club' is the reason why there will be no satisfying of widespread community antipathy to the Church's prosecution of 'its' causes, such as its opposition to 'same sex marriage' and why the emotion behind the 'prosecution' of the case against Archbishop George Pell goes beyond any allegations of his personal responsibility and involvement in knowing of, covering up and/or responding inappropriately to allegations. The Church wants all this to go away. Its ministers and priests are completely over it. They want to move on. But it will not go away until there are real signifiers of change and sacrificial justice. There is nothing so uncomfortable nor so difficult - nor so humanising - than having to see the world through the eyes of the 'other' - your 'outsider' - particularly if they've been marriage property for most of recorded history.
Anna Brown | 14 December 2015


I think it would be foolish to think that the ordination of women will automatically cure and revitalise the Catholic Church. OOW has not revived the Anglican Churches which have introduced it. They all seem static or in decline. It is only the Conservative Evangelical Anglican Churches of the Global South which are growing. I think the reasons for this Anglican decline go far deeper than OOW. The almost wholesale adoption of what is now termed 'Liberal Christianity' - once known as Modernism, and, as such, condemned by the Catholic Church - is the root cause of the decline. I do not think the Catholic or Orthodox Churches - which are basically extremely similar - will ever ordain women. It is, at heart, a doctrinal issue. The current Pope has clearly stated this. For a different perspective on this I would recommend the writings of Frederica Mathewes-Green an American woman Orthodox writer.
Edward Fido | 14 December 2015


'There is a traditional culture of brotherhood in the upper echelons of the Church at every level'. The very sad truth brought out in the Royal Commission these past few weeks is that these brothers do not seem to speak to one another about things that matter. They can hold rank and block intruders, but there is no intimacy between them. How many times more shall we hear senior priests and Bishops admit that they did not speak to or tell one of their 'brothers' what they had heard or seen.
Bette Hume | 14 December 2015


The second paragraph of this article says it all. The damage to families women and children has been overwhelming. Clergy and Religious pretend that it didn't happen. They think it will all go away. It won't.
Laurie Sheehan | 14 December 2015


Moira, you put your finger on one of the underlying problems in that the church accepts this 'noble-cause corruption' which permits the hiding of individual abuse for the 'greater good', namely the reputation of the church. This principle is now being revealed by the Royal Commission. The church evidently believed incorrectly that it was above the laws of the Sate, that it held some special privilege and that keeping abuse a private matter was a guiding principle. The church now has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the real world where illegal acts face State law and cannot be swept under the carpet. And John I think you are incorrect to link the innate 'brotherhood' of the church to 'scripture and tradition.' Reserving church priesthood to men alone is merely one interpretation of scripture. Nothing in scripture makes priesthood a male-only domain. The also has been able to absorb over the centuries updated understandings in science, psychology and sociology - Galileo would not be condemned in 2015. Likewise the church could absorb what feminism says about women without doing damage to it's mission to extend the gospel of love, which is the raison d'être for the church's existence.
john bartlett | 14 December 2015


John: "Yes, there is "a traditional culture of brotherhood" in the Catholic Church's hierarchy - one commissioned by Christ himself in calling the Twelve for a special role within the ecclesial community that grew around him." ???? This same 'Christ' proclaimed, "I was sent ONLY to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." He lived all his working life in Palestine, and preached only to Jews. He also said "No sign (miracle) will be given to this generation."; which contradicts all the 'miracles' related in the Greek gospels. All of which points to the need of a revised interpretation of what we take to be the Word of God. "By their fruits you shall know them." Indeed, a mixed brew.
Robert Liddy | 14 December 2015


hit the nail on the head and got it in in one hit
nick | 14 December 2015


"They are laity, busy, unpaid, and without power." ... And so was Jesus. And look what impact he had on the world! Moira how do you measure power? You use a paradigm to measure power and influence which in my opinion is not essentially Christian. I can't help but shudder when I hear talk about wanting more 'power' whether it come from a man or a woman. Henri Nouwen wrote a fantastic book called 'In the name of Jesus' in which he reflects on the paradoxical nature of Jesus' kind of leadership: Nouwen says we are tempted to be Relevant; spectacular; powerful and that we must understand how Jesus - the humble suffering servant - turned our concept of power upside down. I am a lay Catholic woman in a leadership position. There are actually many Catholic women in key leadership roles. But what ever 'power' I have I see in the light of the Gospel: to serve rather than to be served. Moira, yes women ought to have a voice in the life of the church but be careful not to 1. Denigrate the existing influence women already have and 2. 'Deify' women and ascribe to them some sort of magical quality that will somehow fix the church. We are just as sinful as our brethren.
Cathy | 14 December 2015


Is it intellectual overreach to claim to know that women can be ordained - without knowing why, in the perfect union of 'what is' and 'what should be', the Second Person of the Trinity is male? If God is perfect in structure and function, why is the prototype of priesthood that is Jesus male, not female or both? Where is the basis for assuming that the function of priesthood must not be connected to the structure of the prototype? Can a biologist assume that a creature that is observed to spend most of its time under water must also be able to breathe under water? You have to test to know or you might cause the creature to drown. Can a believer assume that because women are intellectually equal to and perhaps more compassionate than men, words of consecration or forgiveness uttered in certain settings by women who have completed seminary training will be sacramentally effective? What is the test for knowing this? Why not, in the absence of a test, assume, until revelation further unfolds, that the biological structure through which a novel function is first manifested is the structure through which it is meant to be manifested?
Roy Chen Yee | 14 December 2015


An unfortunate title to this article perhaps!. Does the title imply that corrupt churches need women leaders because the women will reform corruption or because women are better at corruption when in power and thus ideal to lead a corrupt church or any other enterprise.??? OLDG in his/her comment mentions a select trio of powerful women leaders who were disasters far surpassing many men. He/she could have gone on with an impressive list from amongst Australian trade unionists and politicians, both in executive and leadership roles. Some women are very good at corruption in recent times and have made some of the men in leadership roles look like wimps ! It might not be gender that matters but the corruption by power of both men and women. Women are better than men in some things and vice versa. The limited experience we have of women in power tends to suggest that corruption is one of the things women are so much better at than men when given the opportunity.
john frawley | 15 December 2015


It's interesting how male priesthood is seen by some as the pinnacle of Christ's legacy that's been carried through by the holy spirit (or tradition, depending on you politics), yet his other more important examples and teachings are left to whim.
AURELIUS | 15 December 2015


'Can a believer assume that... words of consecration or forgiveness uttered... by women... will be sacramentally effective? Good question, Roy Chen Yee, but how would you know (rather than believe) that similar words uttered by men are effective?
Ginger Meggs | 15 December 2015


Anna Brown's "sacrificial justice" resonates deeply with me ... I agree with her perspective. Where does the Church think that future priests come from? Who primarily nurtures faith in families? The "worm" that Moira refers to is not in the roots of faith-filled people ... These people are the real leaders. The "worm" is in the hearts and minds at the top of the tree and in the people they seek to protect. As a mother my concern is that the "worm" will continue to reproduce ... until I'm convinced otherwise I carry my faith with me in exile.
Mary tehan | 15 December 2015


Mary Tehan asks, "Who primarily nurtures faith in families"? Research done in Australia in the early 2000s looking at Church attendance indicated that children of a father who practised his religion were four times more likely to practise their religion compared with those children whose mothers practised and whose fathers didn't.
john frawley | 15 December 2015


Fantastic article Moira. The Catholic Church is still a boys club at every level of administration. All male hierarchy and clergy has not worked and the failure of this has never been more evident than now. Without women, the church would crumble. I am so disappointed in our church, its lack of ability to change and its arrogance about owning and fixing the dreadful crimes of abuse. Not to mention the treatment of divorced people and homosexuals. My children don't approve of the Catholic Church's unfair rules and I can't blame them. I love God and there are a lot of clergy on the ground that are fantastic. So I will stay and fight for fairness. Pope Francis gives me hope, but I am feeling pessimistic.
Katherine | 15 December 2015


Aurelius: You appear to underestimate the priesthood of Christ, the embodiment of his love for his Father and the means by which salvation is available,.as well as the necessity of sacred tradition (not to be confused with politics) in the mission and life of the Church. Those who support Ms Rayner's call are in little doubt as to the centrality of priesthood - albeit, I dare say, for the wrong reasons.
John | 15 December 2015


John Frawley, I'm hoping that when I knock on the doors of the pearly gates that Mass attendance will not be the only criteria for eternal life.
AURELIUS | 15 December 2015


Let's keep praying and working for the ordination of women. For your consideration: Egalitarian Complementarity of Man and Woman http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv11n12supp6.html#section9.1 God bless, Luis
Luis Gutierrez | 15 December 2015


Lord Acton observed that 'absolute power corrupts absolutely'; absolute power is of course power without accountability, and that is the nature of the Church's monarchical structure. Vatican II envisaged that this power should be mitigated and informed by mechanisms such as synods and diocesan pastoral councils, which despite the endorsement by every pope since Vatican II, are rarely adopted by diocesan bishops. Of course, those mechanisms are useless without full involvement of the laity, women and men. Also, Pope Francis could appoint progressive well-qualified women to at least half the top positions in the curia tomorrow without breaching the silly and poorly argued ban on the ordination of women. Secular organisations are sadly showing the way to Christ’s Church in treating women equitably and, importantly, gaining the well-established benefits of gender balance in top decision-making. The dangers of all-male, all celibate, decision-making are now well-documented in the curia-directed cover-up and protection of criminal paedophiles. There was no “noble cause” in exposing more children to sexual abuse, and certainly nothing “noble’ about the Church protecting itself from deserved condemnation for its immoral actions.
Peter Johnstone | 15 December 2015


Aurelius. You are absolutely correct! Mass attendance just happens to be a measurable indicator of practice for purposes of surveys. "Practice makes perfect", some would say.
john frawley | 16 December 2015


Katherine. Have you noted how the ordination of women has served the Angligan/Episcopalian churches? The exodus has been incredible since these Churches undertook women's and homosexual ordination. Indeed many Anglican commentators suggest that these Churches are close to extinction and the retreat of Anglican clergymen to Catholic ordination in England is considerable in recent times. Re the sexual abuse disaster. As an analogy, it is probably not wise to take all of your savings out of a very good, long established bank because of a few corrupt bankers who have been found out and dismissed from their jobs in the bank!
john frawley | 16 December 2015


What exists within the Anglican Communion since the ordination of women is basically a de facto schism where certain Provinces have nothing to do with each other. This scenario will not happen within the Catholic Church. OOW in Catholicism is basically a dead issue.
Edward Fido | 17 December 2015


Thank you dear commentators, whatever your views. A small clarification: actually, this isn't an article about ordaining women. It is about respecting children 'for of such is the kingdom of heaven', and sharing power with women. Jesus and the very early church did this. Is anyone brave enough to do it today?
moira rayner | 17 December 2015


Ginger Meggs: I don't 'know' what the boiling temperature of water is at sea level. I choose to believe what others, whom I have assessed as reputable (a subjective opinion), tell me because I don't have the means to boil water in a pot and stick a thermometer in it at every sea-level location on the planet. Not that that would 'prove' it. I would have to look over the shoulder of each and every person on this planet as he or she tests the temperature at each and every sea level location on the planet so I could 'know' that the difference in the tester doesn't affect the result. And they would all have to use the same pot and thermometer. That's for a simple phenomenon that can actually be measured by the human senses. For supernatural phenomena, I either trust the bearer of the testimony or I don't. Given that I've already trusted the Church that there is a God who is a Trinity who came to the world as a human being (all hypotheses which cannot be verified experimentally), it'd be self-contradictory to say, "Oh, but I won't believe what you say about women's ordination."
Roy Chen Yee | 18 December 2015


I loved this article as having teenage daughters it is a frequent topic of conversation regarding the relevance of the Church to them. Growing up, I told them, "you can be anything you want to be.....except a Catholic priest..." Like the parable of the sower, it seems that the seeds may not be falling on the best ground when ordination is only possible for 50% of the congregation. Keep up the good work Moira.
Eugene | 18 December 2015


Roy Chen Yee, After practising Medicine for 45 years and teaching medical students and surgeons for 40 of those years, I can assure you that many women are nowhere near as compassionate as men, are as tough as nails and react quite differently and often irrationally in the face of dire emergency compared with the men. The men are the sooks. I was never able to discern why women were so tough - perhaps because they felt they had to be to succeed in what they perceived as 'a man's world' or because as the essential progenitors of the human race they were created tough by their maker. They are far better than men at some things but compassion is not one of them.
john frawley | 18 December 2015


Women must insist that the Church of the future includes them in key roles. A moratorium on everything we are currently freely doing might be a way to let the incumbents know the extent of our willing contributions and in the silence that ensues, a space to listen to how it must be in the future. Women must find their voice and speak clearly and boldly. The Body of Christ is at stake.
Theresa Davis | 18 December 2015


It appears your disclaimer is falling on deaf ears, Moira. Or that supporters of women's ordination are simply following the logic of your article.
John | 19 December 2015


To Teresa. Would the 'Body of Christ' without the 'humility' and 'charity' of the Virgin's, "Be it done to me according to your word", even be? If humility is the root of charity, and meekness the fruit of both. Bolder women are not the answer, but meeker men.
AO | 20 December 2015


Who is the guardian of the meaning of this article, author Moira Rayner who tells us that the article is not about women's ordination but about "sharing power with women", or readers who interpret the words of the article as possibly saying something about women's ordination? Moira is available in the first person to insist on what the article means. God chooses not to be available in the first person to insist on what the Scriptures mean. Moira could appoint an agent to speak definitively for her. It seems unnecessary in this case but she could. Is there an agent to speak definitively for God on the meaning of the Scriptures or is that unnecessary? If Moira should change her opinion about the meaning of this article, could she change her mind again to return to her previous opinion? It might impair her credibility in the eyes of some but, at least, there's no suggestion that she's infallible. Change is bi-directional. Beliefs can happen or un-happen. But, is that an option with God or a Church on an important point like the power to consecrate or forgive? What if a future generation disagrees with women's ordination? Is God a flip-flopper?
Roy Chen Yee | 20 December 2015


John, your response is a clear example of when religion becomes an exercise in intellectual orthodoxy that's removed from community practice and life. Belief is not just about following a rigid set of rules claiming to be "THE tradition", but about commitment to doing the most compassionate thing in each human predicament. Women's ordination is not the issue, because we haven't worked out yet what priesthood means - the priesthood of Jesus Christ, that is.
AURELIUS | 22 December 2015


Blind faith and a closed mind is all that a demagogue needs to dominate, Roy Chen Yee. May I commend to you the words of John Robinson to those departing in the 'Mayflower': 'The Lord hath yet more truth and light to break forth from his word...' The problem, as Tony Abbott might say if he could ever open his mind, is that your religion has 'never had a reformation'.
Ginger Meggs | 22 December 2015


Moira I'm glad you clarified the focus of your article. Corruption means dishonest practices, but it also indicates a lack of integrity. Speculation about Women's ordination is a distraction from the real cause of abuse of women and children by the Catholic Church over many decades. Its absolute authority means doctrinal errors and perversion of power can go unchallenged, undetected and unchecked. The Catholic Church is a male structure, its culture that lacks grace and balance because only integrated gender: male and female can bring about true integrity. But this does not mean ordination of women, surely married clergy would be a sensible way to go. When it comes to clerical abuse of children I think of one of the seven deadly sins: Sloth, because evil happens when good men do nothing.
Trish Martin | 22 December 2015


Notwithstanding a few positive results of the women's movement of the late 1960's and 1970's, such as equal pay in the public service, maternity leave and child care, contemporary Australian society is anti-feminist and patronising of women. The women's movement of this time also neglected to address the role of mothers and housewives. In my opinion, there has never been a mature, rational and robust debate of feminist philosophy and especially the classic books such as Simone De Beauvoir's 'The Second Sex' and Germaine Greer's 'The Female Eunuch'. Are these books still banned by the Catholic Church? In my opinion, Catholic Church policies such as celibacy are unhealthy and bizarre and I am sure that priests could provide better pastoral care if they shared their lives with a partner. On the issue of corruption, the real issue is the lack of knowledge of most people of moral philosophy and ethics. In most organisations around the world decisions are made on the basis of expediency and self benefit. Most of these decisions are made by men, who are generally less diligent than women. I remember seeing a BBC World News report of a Norwegian government reform which mandated that company boards had an equal number of women members. The result of this reform was that corporate governance improved significantly because the women board members were more diligent in preparing for meetings and consequently the board made better decisions.
Mark Doyle | 08 January 2016


One surely isn't suggesting women can't be corrupt?
Father John George | 10 February 2016


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