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The Pope's butler did it!


Silent Witness DVD coverThe affair of the Pope's butler, who has been accused of leaking Papal correspondence, was a violation of papal privacy. It will also have been a tragedy for the butler himself. But I found it diverting. It offered, too, a new perspective on more fraught conversations about the Catholic Church.

Catholics get used to being asked why they are Catholic. Sometimes enlivening, sometimes desultory conversation ensues. But more recently the questions have had a harder, almost accusatory edge. People ask, 'Why are you still a Catholic?'

The tone of this conversation reminds me of the British television series, Silent Witness, with its array of driven forensic scientists and unsmiling police officers awash in body parts, all wholly committed to expose the horror of the human heart, to seek justice for the forgotten and to expose the guilty.

I imagine them asking me, 'Are you not complicit in this?', as they point to the bones of an abused boy episcopally covered up. 'Must you not dissociate yourself from this contempt for women?', they say, waving a religious sister's knife-stabbed robe. 'How can you tolerate this abuse of authority?', they call, opening trays full of the tongues of silenced priests and tracheas with new translations stuffed down them.

The scene takes place at night. The atmosphere is tense and claustrophobic. I am caught without escape.

But suddenly the scene and the characters change.  I am in the golden light of the lethal English countryside, and a host of batty aunts, tweedy twits, lovelorn teens, flummery vicars, peppery colonels and salty squires, assorted tramps, main chancers, and the occasional corpses dropped off in copses, who populate Midsomer Murders, converge on a huge crumbling ancestral estate.

We arrive in time to witness the police unmask the murderer, who has also nicked the ancestral silver and is busily melting it down and disguising it as shoehorns. And of course, in the tradition of the great English murder mystery, the villain is the butler. The butler has freed me from the dark world of forensic melodrama into a comic universe. 

The story of the Pope's butler offers a broader take on the Catholic Church. The reality of Catholic life, like that of other churches, includes the inexcusable, the brutal, the indefensible and the appalling. It also includes the potty, the mediocre, the bombastic, the confused and the sheepish. And as well there are the idealistic, the enduring, the courageous and the constant.

These three categories do not represent different groups of people. They and their possibilities run through each human heart, from Pope to peasant. So the unpleasant company that we find ourselves keeping in any church has also to hold its nose when keeping company with us.

So whether we can responsibly still stay in the Church is not decided by the list of bad or absurd things Catholics, from high to low estate, do, however authoritatively. The question is whether the story, the hope and the shared life that have held us in the Church can accommodate and handle our constant discovery of the disreputable company we keep.

In my judgment the story that lies at the heart of our faith does accommodate massive evil and stupidity, and also encourages us to hope for a better church and world. The story tells how the son of God shared our human life, called a group of incompetents to join his inner group, experienced the darkest side of human malice, including betrayal and denial by his friends, and appalling torture and execution after trial in a kangaroo court.

Then he rose from the dead to show that life is stronger than all the things that make for death and to invite us to live generously.

If we base our lives on this story we should expect to find in our Church and world the depth of horror in Silent Witness and the superficiality of bumbledom in Midsomer Murders.

But we would also need to find our faith supported by evidence of goodness, of refusal to give up on justice in Church and world, of love, hope, constancy and forgiveness in the most unpromising of people and  of places from prisons to cathedrals.

Those of us who still stay in churches have found these things run even deeper than the indefensible, the unspeakable and the ridiculous. 

Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street


Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, Pope's butler, clergy sex abuse



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Existing comments

What a wonderful essay. I have often been comforted by the thought that our church welcomes sinners along with the saints, that we tread the earth while aspiring to the heavens, that we live with the mundane while seeking the sacred. As a Midsomer Murders fan, I was captivated and then comforted. I do and will remain a Catholic through mine and others' failings. You've made my day!

Keith Martin | 31 May 2012  

Bravo, Andy! Wonderful.

Dan Madigan | 31 May 2012  

Yes- Andrew, just as in your article there is always 'Dulcis in fundo'- for those who 'Truly Believe'.

Myra | 31 May 2012  

Of course we must expect to find all sorts within our Church, after all we are in it. At the core, for me, is to keep in touch with the gospel values .

Phil van Brunschot | 31 May 2012  

Intriguing,uplifting and true .It illustrates that the Church has imperfect(and at times worse)members.That is part of the price of God's edifice on earth being partly dependent on human beings.There are many , probably most , of the clergy who fall within rhe category of good and constant, loving and forgiving ; who are an inspiration to us believers . It is a good thing to be reminded that it takes all kinds of people to make a world - and a Church

Barry O'Keefe | 31 May 2012  

Its a hard one... I'm one of those who has felt that it is impossible to remain in the Church. Not only because it has allowed such abuses to occur within it over the centuries, and not only because of the arrogance of the institution (and its human representatives) that seek to defend the institution when it is clearly complicit in such crimes. What really forced me to move on, unhappily, was that whether we like it or not, the corruption isn't a problem of "a few bad apples", or even "and a bad barrel that you find them in", but in its theology. I can't help but feel that much of its ecclesiology exists not so much as an expression of Christian experience, but as dogma to define, maintain and defend the institution of the church, and its theology. I can't help but feel that its theology is unrelentingly (hetero-)patriarchal - something that feminist theologians have aptly pointed out. I still identify as Catholic - I am by culture and inclination, but I am forced by conscience to reject a corrupt institution.

De | 31 May 2012  

The question is whether the story, the hope and the shared life that have held us in the Church can accommodate and handle our constant discovery of the disreputable company we keep. ************************** I venture to suggest that the fundamental that sustains our faith is the Vision we glimpse when we embrace the Two Great Commandment of loving God above all and our Neighbour as ourselves. This vision is not confined to Christianity, of course, as both of these "Commandments" are found in the Old Testament. The ancient Hebrews narrowed their Vision by restricting "God" to the partisan protector of the Jews, and "Neighbour" to their fellow Jews. The Christian Tradition, at least until recent times, also narrowed their Vision to those who accepted the material representation of that Vision as depicted in the Gospels. Muslims also have their limited version. Only when every group realises that their community should see themselves as a living part of the Whole Human Body, like a integral limb or an organ, will we respond ideally and accept our limitations and imperfections and make the most of who and what we are, and adjust our internal and external relationships accordingly.

Robert Liddy | 31 May 2012  

Some of the points made by Andrew in this piece bear close reflection. Yes, our faith should be deeper and stronger than whatever the world (and our fellow Christians) can throw at us. However, quite often our journey is a fraught one with steps ahead, then backward. And, all too often, we can use the excuse that we are imperfect, that we are 'human' but that we are nevertheless 'forgiven'. Somehow that doesn't 'cut it' for someone in the throes of betrayal and hurt. It can be galling to face people who share one's beliefs who say "our faith runs deeper than the indefensible, the unspeakable and the ridiculous". It's true, but like, how do I get there? I've met people in the church who think 'faith' entitles them to automatic forgiveness, without ever going near the concept of personal responsibility for a wrong committed. I believe this sort of attitude led to the covering-up of sexual abuse within the Catholic church.

Pam | 31 May 2012  

Thanks Andrew. Many of us need your beautifully expressed optimism complemented by your sound reasoning for being so hopeful. By the way did you hear about the monk who saw South Pacific and later at Vespers some one chanted evening? Plenty more where that came from.

grebo | 31 May 2012  

One of your best, Andy!

Brendan Byrne | 31 May 2012  

Profound and yet whimsical! At the core of our being lies mystery - and the frisson of excitement that mystery brings. Even when "the butler" is exposed, we keep asking: "Why did he do it?".

Uncle Pat | 31 May 2012  

Thanks Andy. Excellent reasoning. I still believe all in authority must practice the gospel truths they preach and not look for excuses of some of their crimes. After all the jury is still out on the question whether there was ever a Judas! Finally, was it the butler, or is he just a scapegoat? We may never know!

Peter M | 31 May 2012  

Beautifully put.

Jenny | 31 May 2012  

Andy, I always enjoy what you write, but this is among your best. Many good people in our Church are asking themselves can they/should they stay and your reflection provides a wonderful yardstick they might apply. Yesterday's gospel was about those careerist sons of Zebedee, today we have the glorious quartet of the two women and their babies singing God's praise at the Visitation: the contrast between the two is as good an example as any of the polarities we can experience in the Church. But the mystery remains - omnia in omnibus Christus: Christ is all and in all.

Francois Kunc | 31 May 2012  

Thanks Andy. I agree. As an adult coming into the Church, the presence of the less than perfect wa a great comfort to me.

Liz Hepburn IBVM | 31 May 2012  

Delightful, Andy. Great association of imagery and the comic, to lure out the heart of our story.

Jack Otto | 31 May 2012  

I stay because I love being part of my 'local' bush church. And because I know and journey with some inspired leaders (including yourself- thanks for a great article). As for the 'hierarchy'- I like to think we could manage better without them. Sentence them all to a year of living and working in a parish among the real people - and then see how they'd get on with their exclusivity!

glen avard | 31 May 2012  

Thank you, Andy, as always.There is so much that is good happening in our world and in the church, that it needs to be acknowledged.

Maryrose Dennehy | 31 May 2012  

What a wonderful juxtaposition of the sublime and human frailty. It emphasises the destuctive power of the human inability to forgive, a power great enough to obscure goodness. Forgiveness restores love while failure to forgive perpetuates hatred. The Church needs forgiveness. Hatred achieves nothing but misery.This article goes to the heart of the matter and is one of your best,Andrew. Also a very refreshing attitude from ES.

john frawley | 31 May 2012  

Thanks, well put. But you may be letting our Church leaders off a bit lightly. Their job is to express the core of the God News to the modern world in its own language...the world and society that actually exists and not one they would long to go back to. As you did very well, I might say. And not only do they need to "talk the talk" but they need to "walk the walk". Why does the Pope need a butler? Why do they make us use funny out of date language in church? Why do the leaders look so rich and opulent? Why is there so much bullying going on? Do they ask themselves how their image is affecting people and the attractiveness of their message and institution?

Eugene | 31 May 2012  

And yet for me the worm in the organic (=blemished but still essentially wholesome) apple remains the repeated unwillingness of those in power to acknowledge and take responsibility for the blemishes. S**t happens.But it doesn't 'just happen.' It will continue to happen unless we are all willing to accept that.

margaret | 31 May 2012  

Margaret's comment put into a few words what I tried to say in quite a few. Indeed, the 'butler' did it - but who is apologising? If he had any courage, it would be the butler.

Pam | 31 May 2012  

Yes. All members of the Church, including the hierarchy have failings. Perhaps Judas is the most prominent example for us, as he was a member of the twelve! After his effort we can't expect the Church to suddenly become composed of perfect people. However it is the good that is in the Church that always gives me hope, and faith helps me endure until the end. Amid all the criticism the hierarchy is drawing lately, some justified, it was a relief to read the, article by Will Day, "Don't Tell the Cathedral",in the Age last Monday, 28 May, pointing out that the Church is much larger than the hierarchy, and there is a huge army of good people who are members of the Church. Your article also points to that good part of the Church.

Tony Santospirito | 31 May 2012  

It must be noted that Vatican citizens including members of the Curia are as catholic and as human as any other member of the catholic church including member of my catholic parish in the remote jungle village of Mbembani in Kenya Africa for instance. Under no circumstances does their cardinal responsibilities within the administration of the church make them "more" human or "more" catholic than any other full member of the catholic church from south Africa to Europe and from Bolivia to Australia. Under Canon Law for example, any Catholic man in good standing can be elected pope. The titular tags of cardinal/bishop are only bestowed upon them after election.

Hillan Nzioka | 31 May 2012  

While ever we continue to make excuses fo the Church like this , the abuse of authority and stupidity will continue and the Church will never change.

John | 31 May 2012  

Thank you Andrew
you are a gift to us still on-the Way !

Anne Nolan | 31 May 2012  

a brilliant analysis, dealing with what is the essence of a very human institution, not offering excuses or coverups - and I am not a Catholic

alan Roberts | 31 May 2012  

I agree with Pam. The excuse that we are imperfect but nevertheless 'forgiven' is not good enough. Automatic forgiveness is the mantra of the fundamentalists, who claim they are “saved” and it does not matter what they do afterwards. We must all take personal responsibility for a wrong committed, as is plain from what Jesus said in John 8:11: “Neither do I condemn you. Go; from now on sin no more.” As Pam states, the issue of sexual abuse being covered up within the Catholic Church has arisen from a failure of the hierarchy to take responsibility. But that was nurtured in the church’s authoritarian culture of unquestioning obedience: pay, pray, obey. Unless this changes, we are doomed to repeat history. Stupidity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result. The church has been repeating the same mistakes for far too long. It has been able to cover this up in the past because no-one questioned the perpetrators. I also find myself partly agreeing with DE, that “the corruption isn't a problem of "a few bad apples”...but in (the Church’s)... theology. I can't help but feel that much of its ecclesiology exists not so much as an expression of Christian experience, but as dogma to define, maintain and defend the institution of the church, and its theology.” It is patriarchal, but patriarchy of itself is but part of the problem. If it were matriarchal, there is no reason to expect that a similar result would not ensue, because the true basis of the problem is its authoritarian structure, which facilitates the covering up of crimes.

Frank S | 31 May 2012  

Andy, many thanks for this wonderful reflection particularly appropriate for those of us who find our relaxation with nights of BBC crime. You put it all in perspective. As St. Augustine said, we are in the barque of saints and sinners on our journey of salvation. Of course there is something of both in all of us. If I remember your homilies from years back you frequently spoke of the messiness of life and finding God in it all. Welcome to the Church. Here comes everybody as James Joyce once said. Thanks again.

David Hutton | 31 May 2012  

Strange: Andrew makes room for the sinners in our church, in the context of accommodating those who have sinned against the innocent. Yet, it is they who over the centuries have labeled the innocent as sinners, have punished them and sought to put them outside the church.

Jeanne | 01 June 2012  

I find my faith in Jesus Christ, and trying to live a life based on his is more important to me now than church attendance.I am 70years old,born and raised a Catholic, and found setting myself free of the many burdens my catholic schooling imposed,felt truly like The Good News

Robyn.Beckingsale | 01 June 2012  

That's interesting Liz, I too was an adult but I expected more from those sheperding us on the way to Heaven.
As far as being in the presence of those less than perfect, your initial Baptism gave you new life, or did I miss something, otherwise it's a little like burying the proverbial hatchet but leaving the handle out of the ground.
Be strong in the Spirit so the saying goes.

L Newington | 01 June 2012  

At last we may be accepting the fact that the'church' is composed of people with both good and evil within them.
This could be a major breakthrough in our world, as others may realise we are just like them, enabling them to question us more readily about our Christian lives.

Bernie Introna | 01 June 2012  

There is no end to the excuses 'the faithful' will make up to cover the endless folly of the Vatican behaviours.

If the Pope were exposed as a sex-monster (which I ma quite sure he is not) we would find all sorts of excuses being published to find a way to avoid dealing with it.

THis is just another one.

Time to grow up and face the reality of a corrupt-to-the-core Vatican.

janice wallace | 01 June 2012  

I love Eureka St for its quality writing and 'off the wall' take on life and sometimes on faith. I often find Andrew's articles stimulating and sympathetic. This time I am challenged. As a Methodist minister based in London, for 7 years I had 'done battle' as a professional in a head office role, jointly, with two major Church denominations in GB concerned with what in the UK we call Safeguarding - child and vulnerable adult protection. When I left that role 18 months ago I felt on the edge of the church, not knowing what course my vocation may take. I still don't but I too am greatly encouraged. I am now freelance, including Spritual Direction and writing, but also working with Pastoral Responsibility for a church part-time. You could say I am hedging my bets.
I agree with Andrew, ultimately it is the love of God, our being touched by that grace demonstrated in Jesus Christ that keeps us in the Church.
I thought the first time I might submit something to ES would be to submit my thoughts on the hierarchical and assumed power of many church ministers/ priests. Instead, I find myself humbly agreeing.

Pearl Luxon | 01 June 2012  

Andy, Thank you for a superb essay. You have offered a tray of sustenance to many starving in our cosmic cafeteria. What do many do in the face of injustice? Go on a hunger strike. Why do I stay? I sense the irony and the paradox and the tragedy, while in awe I eye the side door as I swim in abundance.

Vic O'Callaghan | 02 June 2012  

Fr Andrew’s assessment of the Church today is much too rosy. At least in crime flicks, there’s an understood consensus between audience and writer as to the identity of the deed at the centre of the plot, and its dastardly nature. When Colonel Blimp’s decapitated corpse is hooked from the canal, viewers don’t start bickering over whether he’s actually dead or in the prime of health. Unfortunately the confusion within the Church today, humanly speaking, is so profound that even this level of narrative is not shared. Thus while some Catholics view the visitation of U.S. women religious, and the rule against women’s ordination as great oppressions, others view these as liberating moves. Equally radical fissures open up over contraception, homosexual relations, infallibility, and so on. When one Catholic’s meat is another Catholic’s poison, a crime story analogy limps. An epic such as Lord of the Rings, which encompasses themes of objective evil, massive societal self-deception and the heroism of a powerless few battling with determination against all odds affords a more suitable canvas onto which we Catholics can project our current dire straits.

HH | 02 June 2012  

A timely article nicely written. Thank you Andrew for the title: The Pope's Butler Did It: says it all. Scapegoeating is a practice that comes from the Old Testament, when a crimson robe was tied onto a goat (it carried the sins of the people)and the animal was driven out into the desert by temple officials beating with sticks. Women are consistently targeted as scapegoats by church officials, it is notable that when it comes to inter-Vatican corruption women are not involved. Jesus said salvation comes to individuals when they change the way they think, but nothing will change within the Vatican unless it starts from the top.

Trish Martin | 02 June 2012  

Had Jesus wanted women to be ordained priests, He would have said so in the Gospel of John the Beloved.

Myra | 02 June 2012  

Some people commenting seem to have the schoolyard mentality that "I've a good boy/girl all my life - and it's not fair that others are forgiven for their digressions." Forgiveness IS a given, not some protestant righteous doctrine. But it doesn't mean we are let off - there are spiritual, psychological, social and civic consequences for all our sins - and to borrow a Buddhist term KARMA, we all eventually bear the burden somehow for our sins. Whether we turn to cognitive behavioural therapy, spiritual conversion, workaholism or substance abuse - we all face the reality of our actions. And Myra, if Jesus didn't want women to be ordained priests, he would have said so in the Gospel of John the Beloved.

AURELIUS | 04 June 2012  

Aurelius Jesus didn't want women as priests as He has exegeted through 2000 years of magisterium, and spoken through the infallible voice of Peter's Spirit guided successor in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis-an INFALLIBLE hermeneutic preceded by earlier and later Magisterial decrees on same. Even Vatican 2 Fathers rejected the USA St Joan Alliance petition for admission of women to Holy Orders. "ROMA LOCUTA EST;CAUSA FINITA EST"!!

Father John Michael George | 04 June 2012  

Gosh, no wonder so many Catholics are becoming non-practising Catholics with mumbo-jumbo legalise being thrown up as religious reasoning.
There must come a point when we realise that our faith involves a Triune God - Father, Son AND Holy Spirit -
1. Jesus wasn't sure why the Father abandoned him (ie he didn't have a direct phone link with him)
2. Jesus never used words like "exegete" and "magisterium"
3. The Holy Spirit is still moving and teaching us and I feel sure it's not urging us to exegete infallible magisterial hermeneutics!
The whole church will come crumbling down and need to be reborn before you can lead the faithful in this generation to Jesus.

AURELIUS | 04 June 2012  

Aurelius, Padre Pio said if he could choose to live his life over again. He would only be a monk. As he believed himself unworthy to be a Priest.Could this sentiment possibly sum up the deepest fear, doubt, love and humility all Consecrated Persons experience? St Teresa D'Avila ( just to mention 'one' women ) and hundreds of others had no desire to be women priests.Yet they never stopped shinning forth their deepest love and humility whilst serving others- as their writing and documented memoirs suggest. I wonder why and how? If humility and charity are the virtues all others depend upon ensuring the preservation of the entire edifice- the foundation being humility and it's roof, charity. And often- those who truly posses these are the very first to profess themselves unworthy of higher standing within the Catholic Church...Besides it not being the 'Word of God' ( the ordination of women priests ) how can any women possibly believe herself sincerely entitled, not to mention worthy of such a calling and position within the Catholic Church Hierarchy ...without seeming a little 'iffy' and just a 'very little' proud?

Myra | 04 June 2012  

There is much to admire in this honest and at times incisive essay. Yes, the church has always been filled with saints and sinners, always inclined to both brutalize and bless, guilty of horrific crimes and responsible for immense good. The question is, Andrew, when I see the crimes and the brutalization happening do I speak up for justice? Do I cry out and demand change when I stand over the bones of that abused boy or see the knife wounds in that sister's clothes? This is where the issue of complicity really lies. The silence of so many bishops priests religious and laity - who see what is happening - but do not speak out is heart-breaking. It is also sinful. I think of the great and powerful religious orders - when will these 'disciples and prophets' band together and stand up within the church and confront its structural injustice? When will they publicly confront the Vatican system and demand justice for victims of sex abuse, for gay people, for women - within the church itself. I refer you to Will Day's brilliant article in The Age last week 'Don't tell the Cathedral'. The silence from good people in the church is deafening. To paraphrase St Matthew: ' I was abused and it was covered up, I was excluded and called a threat to society and the family, I was deemed unfit to lead the Eucharist for the people of God, I was denied natural justice and condemned without rights or due process - and you did nothing'. Yes there is risk in speaking out and taking on the Vatican - grave risk. But we claim to follow a man who was crucified for speaking truth to power.

Michael B Kelly | 05 June 2012  

Myra, If Jesus had wanted priests he would have mentioned it surely but nowhere does he.

Francis | 06 June 2012  

I have lived a far from sheltered life. I have met many thousands of people in my life from all walks of life, and mix with many every day. The majority of them, and the majority of my friends, relatives, and work colleagues, are non-Catholics. A quite large number of them are ex-Catholics. Occasionally I talk about the Catholic Church to people, usually because I, not they have brought up the subject. Very occasionally people have asked me to justify/explain one or more Catholic doctrines or practices which puzzle them. Not once do I ever recall anybody asking me "Why are you still a Catholic?" with or without reference to sexual sins by clergy and the covering-up thereof. Nor have I ever heard any ex-Catholic in real life say that he left the Catholic Church for this reason. Maybe for some reason you happen to get to meet a bunch of much more aggressive anti-Catholics than I do, but I think that the vast majority of non-Catholics, even those who know very little about the Church, understand the simple fact that sexual abuse and its "cover-up" happen everywhere to a broadly similar extent, and that despite the intense campaigning by a few high-profile anti-Catholics there is nothing particularly Catholic about these sins. And most non-Catholics are able to understand that being a member of an organisation which has certain rules, does NOT implicitly endorse the actions of those who blatantly broke those rules.

Peter Kennedy | 06 June 2012  

Francis, He did- though it is only apparent and readily available to comprehend through out The Old Testament,The New Testament and in the writings of The Early Church Fathers- I believe, to those who are directly chosen by God- to be Priests- or consecrated persons and all who seek to know the Truth with a pure heart.

Myra | 06 June 2012  

Once again Andrew, thanks for another perspective on our church and on ourselves. Much appreciated!

M.Confoy | 07 June 2012  

Again, spot on, Peter Kennedy.

HH | 07 June 2012  

AURELIUS writes ‘Some people commenting seem to have the schoolyard mentality that "I've (been) a good boy/girl all my life - and it's not fair that others are forgiven for their digressions." Forgiveness IS a given, not some protestant righteous doctrine.’ Yes, forgiveness is OFFERED each time, but if one takes the doctrine of the Catholic Church seriously on the Sacrament of Confession, then ‘it is not true that for the Catholic the mere "telling of one's sins" suffices to obtain their forgiveness. Without sincere sorrow and purpose of amendment, confession avails nothing, the pronouncement of absolution is of no effect, and the guilt of the sinner is greater than before.’ (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11618c.htm )

Frank S | 08 June 2012  

Thanks for the clarification, FRANK S. How fortunate that all this stuff about forgiveness is so codified and neatly explained - and also easily available on the internet! No excuses now for being naughty.

AURELIUS | 09 June 2012  

AURELIUS, your flippant response about people being “naughty” mocks the victims of clerical sexual and physical abuse, the internationally-widespread and awful extent of which has been revealed for some years now, and continues to be revealed throughout the Church. The evidence is that the perpetrators have acted repeatedly; have on many occasions been protected by the hierarchy; and have therefore avoided personal responsibility for their evil acts. This is nothing short of criminal and clearly has been nurtured by the church’s authoritarian structure. Thankfully the criminality is now being addressed by civil authorities. However, the systemic problem remains. Should we just accept it and just continue to “forgive” these criminals ad infinitum? I am sure the victims would at least like to see them stopped so that no-one else suffers at their hands, if nothing else.

Frank S | 09 June 2012  

FRANK S, you have taken my comments out of context and I was not referring to letting off sexual abusers for their crimes, but to the general concept of forgiveness - and the fact that being forgiven by God does NOT mean that predators should roam free. The issue of sexual abuse is not for the church to deal but the police and criminal courts. We all know the church is battening down its assets as we speak to avoid compensating its victims.

AURELIUS | 11 June 2012