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A new high water mark for child protection



If the safety of children and vulnerable people is not at the very centre of the Catholic Church's mission both here and in all other places around the world, then something has gone very, very wrong in the Church.

Young girl on beachFor five years, as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse revealed the horrific details of child sexual abuse in Catholic parishes, schools, children's homes and other places, Catholics and the broader community slowly came to understand the true extent of the failings of past leaders.

They also saw the complete disregard, not just for Gospel values, but for the most basic human instincts of compassion and kindness by the hundreds of priests, brothers and others, whose commitment was to protect children, not abuse them.

The statistics are appalling: more than 4400 allegations of child sexual abuse against some 1880 priests, religious and others in the Catholic Church, occurring in more than 1000 different Catholic institutions in the six decades between 1950 and 2010.

If this were to have occurred in any other institution the community could reasonably ask, 'Why should it be allowed to continue operating?'

The answer is that the Catholic Church is much more than what has been revealed in the commission; and the Church, and the broader Australian community, is very different to what it was 30 years ago. 

Nonetheless, the biggest future challenge facing the Church is the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Regardless of the changes that have been made to the way in which the Church in Australia responded to, and dealt with, allegations and the survivors of child sexual abuse over the past 25 years, it has become very clear that more, much more, needs to be done.


"CPSL sets a new high-water mark in the ongoing development of a child-safe church in Australia."


That is one of the many reasons Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) now exists and has started the work of strengthening child protection regimes across Australia. CPSL will bring new levels of accountability and transparency to the way in which Church leaders operate and manage the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

CPSL is developing and setting new child safeguarding standards, in line with the extensive research and recommendations of the Royal Commission. It will be sending auditors into dioceses, parishes, congregations and Church entities to measure compliance with these standards, and then publicly reporting what it finds.

This is a completely new process for the Australian Church, its leaders and organisations. It brings with it its own set of unique challenges, not least of which is the perception that CPSL is stepping well over the mark and intruding on the independence of bishops and others.

From my perspective this is not right. CPSL will be consulting widely on the new standards, certainly not doubling up where appropriate standards already exist. It will offer extensive training on how to comply with the standards, and give Church leaders every opportunity to understand their responsibilities to ensure, as far as possible, children and vulnerable people are safe.

But that said, where there are failings and where, for whatever reason, a diocese or congregation continues to be unsafe, CPSL will say so, publicly. CPSL sets a new high-water mark in the ongoing development of a child-safe church in Australia.

When the bishops and religious decided to establish CPSL they understood that a new approach to the safety of children and vulnerable people was needed. In a Church that will take many years, perhaps generations, to recover from the child sexual abuse crisis, something different had to happen. 

While CPSL's approach is focused on holding Church leaders to account, its philosophy is very much that the safety and protection of children and vulnerable people in the Church is everybody's business.

By increasing the broader Catholic community's knowledge and understanding of crimes such as grooming, physical and sexual abuse, the devastating impact of abuse on individuals and the ripple effects into families and communities, CPSL will be getting the word out to at least a quarter of the Australian population — its work has the potential for far greater change than just within the Catholic Church.



Sheree LimbrickSheree Limbrick is CEO of Catholic Professional Standards Limited. She is appearing as a panellist this week at the Catholic Social Services national conference, Hearing, Healing, Hope, at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne. Details

Topic tags: Sheree Limbrick, Catholic Social Services, clergy sexual abuse, professional standards



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Existing comments

Sheree, what or who is a "vulnerable adult"? This is starting to get somewhere but until the focus shifts fully to a grasp of how personal and positional power intersects with the less powerful children and any adults, the understanding of the whole issue of clergy sexual misconduct will not be solved. The other thing missing here is any contact with those who have left the church usually because of the primary deviancy of clergy abuse itself and then the secondary deviancy of how the church has responded to both individuals and the issue as a whole. I am not seeing any depth of understanding yet. Perhaps this is not what is wanted but rather, further control from within of the issue so that further deviancy within can be kept hidden - e.g. the high proportion of sexual activity of clergy with anyone, well, at least when there were heaps of younger clergy, and the fallout of this activity over all but especially on the others, including adults. Who is driving everything? The answers for the reasons for nothing really changing may be found there. He who gets the ball rolling can decide which way it rolls and who gets squashed or saved in the process. We live in hope, still.

Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 20 February 2018  

Very heartening words Sheree. When a catastrophic failure occurs, then change must happen. The broader community's view of the Catholic Church has been altered and this work is necessary to bring about that change. One other point: in dealing with children and vulnerable adults one approach does not always fit. The Church, which is community-oriented, has to see and understand the individual's circumstances. There are a number of ways to be 'church'.

Pam | 20 February 2018  

Why do I get the feeling that the Church is acting like a giant resources company managing the fallout from a disastrous oil spill? Sheree nearly got to the nub of the matter, but backed off. What other enterprise with some 1800 employees having committed crimes against children, would be allowed to continue to operate in Australia? Crimes must be prosecuted through the criminal justice system before they can be forgiven.

Frank Golding OAM | 20 February 2018  

While the 'protocols' in theory might be necessary and good. On the ground they might in the end get in the way of ethical integrity and maturity. The difficulty the Church has is that the protocols, whatever they might be, do not address the ethical ineptitude and indeed moral certitude that has marked the Catholic Church and might in fact enable it to hide behind a facade of righteousness.

Jan | 20 February 2018  

Pam, the last sentence of your comment has renewed a reaction that has troubled my pedantic soul over recent years. I keep seeing the phrase "being church" but have no idea what it means. Is "church" in this context an adjective, so that "being" it might be like being old or being rich or being tired? Or is it a noun so that it would be like being goal-keeper or being archbishop? About 80 years ago I became a member of the RC church (or so I've been told), but nobody has ever suggested to me that meant "being church", an equation of me and it. This expression has become prevalent in recent times, and I suspect obscures something that might be important. I imagine popes of past ages could identify themselves with the church (was it Louis XIV who concluded "l'etat, c'est moi"?), but I hope the present one doesn't share that view. Can anyone enlighten me?

OldG | 20 February 2018  

Thanks Sheree. Yes, there was scandalous disregard for Gospel values, compassion and kindness, but worse: these acts were perpetrated and then systematically covered by ordained men. So we should ask, Where was their Vocation in all this? Men Called to love and protect the poor, vulnerable and innocent; To be the voice of those who have no voice; To act always in justice and humility, rather bullied, disregarded and destroyed victims as "nobodies" who did not matter. They sided with and protected the powerful against those who most needed protection, and deliberately chose to defend the indefensible. In all this, did any one of them remember their ordination day and the vows they took?

Kevin Wilson | 20 February 2018  

I went right through the Catholic education system from prep to yr.12. Nuns during primary school; Marist Brothers at boarding school for secondary schooling. From Grade 5 until year 12 I was an alter boy. Not once,ever, did I come across any untoward behaviour from clergy. Not even a whiff of such scandal. How evil perpetrators of child abuse got into the Church is beyond me. Why they behave as they do is beyond me. And why certain Bishops tolerated such behaviour is also beyond me. Now, as a father of five kids, I know how I would react if someone caused, or attempted to cause, such harm to my kids. I also know, looking back, how all those men who educated me would also have reacted. I once saw a Marist brother confront two men hanging around the school. We were protected. However, pedophiles are notoriously deceitful and deceptive. Perhaps the focus needs to be on identifying them and not on policing the vast majority of us who know exactly what is right and wrong? We just want to drop our kids off and know they will be safe. A zero tolerance standard.

John | 20 February 2018  

Kevin Wilson has emphasised a valid challenge to the Church: "... there was scandalous disregard for Gospel values, compassion and kindness, but worse: these acts were perpetrated and then systematically covered by ordained men. ... Where was their Vocation in all this?" We older Catholics were taught to equate the Church with God, with doctrines like the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ; the Holy Spirit is in the Church at all times, guiding and defending it against the sinful world; and epithets such as "Holy Mother, the Church". Happily, many of us have long since recognised the Catholic Church as just one of the three main Christian traditions, and Christianity as just one of the major world religions, developed across the world as humanity's response to the deeply felt yearning for relationship with our Creator. While the sins/crimes of individual clerics can be seen as individual failings, the over-all cover up by senior Church leaders at the Vatican and diocesan levels is the collective fault of the organisation. Who now would believe that the Church is any more guided by the Holy Spirit than are secular bodies like the Royal Commission? Hopefully CPSL will prove to be more effective than Holy Orders in protecting our children.

Ian Fraser | 20 February 2018  

Old G. Don't worry too much about the misuse of English. I think misuse becomes usage because people don't like to be seen to be out on a limb and incur the potential criticism such a position can bring in the new enlightened world! Incorrect usage pervades our society. We have almost universal misunderstanding of nouns and verbs. Athletes now medal or podium rather win a medal or stand on a podium. Disasters no longer affect us but impact us. The difference between buy and bring when it comes to past tense has been reversed and it is rare to hear these words used with their correct meaning. A ceremony is a cere-moan-ey rather than a cere-muny and we contri-bute to something rather than con-trib -ute. "Church", I think, is meant to be equivalent to what you would have known as the Body of Christ. These created meanings are meant to convey some superior understanding, a 'humanness" and mean next to nothing - similar to some of the created language that plagues theology and is understood only by its creators!

john frawley | 20 February 2018  

"CPSL will be getting the word out to at least a quarter of the Australian population" - please tell me how this will be achieved when just on 10% of this 5.5-6, 000,000 - namely 550000-600000 have contact with the Church on a regular basis? What steps will be taken to make contact with these people, not only in respect to the abuse problem but also in-put into the coming 2020 National Plenary Council. Also how will Civil Society manage to hold these people accountable when them consider Canon Law being the only guide to accountability rather then Civil Law which applies to all of us laity?

nick agocs | 20 February 2018  

I mean no disrespect to Sheree, but does not the fact that such an organisation as CPSL is needed to make priests behave themselves, prove beyond doubt that the church authorities cannot be trusted to protect our children from the cowardly thugs in the church? And what makes bishops think that, although they are in positions of responsibility, they are not responsible for the behaviour of their subordinates? Also, I join OLDG in asking what is meant by being church.

Jason | 20 February 2018  

OldG, thanks for your feedback. What I was meaning to say is "There are a number of ways to be in communion with God". That's to say that attending services in a building x number of times a week is one way. Being part of a Bible study group is another way. Or helping out in a Christian soup kitchen is another way. Or all three. Many people may do all three, some only one. A hermit may very rarely see another human being but does that stop him/her being part of the church?

Pam | 20 February 2018  

In the latter part of 1954 and the 1st 6 months of 1955 I was groomed, seduced, molested and rejected by a hospital Chaplin when I was 12 and 13 years of age. I was so ashamed of this happening to me that I became rebellious and disruptive at school and I carried this stigma into my adult life until I was in my 60's. It ruined my childhood and my adolescent years and beyond. I was not alone on this road and I still bear the scars. I lost my faith when I lost my childhood at the hands of a pedophile priest !

DAVID FIELD | 20 February 2018  

Sheree. There's little chance of your good intentions being believed while the current victims of the sexual assaults, by Clergy and religious, are still experiencing a very resistant and legally entrenched Church Leadership response to what could only be termed "appalling abuse". It is evident from the 'non-payment mindset' in the Catholic Church in regards to meeting even the most basic costs covering medical and psycologicasl services. The other issue is the 'fanfare' News Releases which do not seem to be in any way a reliable guide to what people are experiencing in their relationships with the Catholic Religious Leadership on the ground. You would also know that there is little to no trust in the area as a result of statements made by the Pope and the way the Cardinal O'Malley led advisory Committee has been dealt with. All these years on and still only getting another new Committee. It's so bad for the victimas. And the Australian Chuch seems paralysed in taking action itself. You have more than a 'hard road' ahead as Church Leaders are more concerned with legal aspects and not moral ones.. There seems to be no movement on the very dangerous practice of leaving Clergy alone with children in the Confessional setting. Surely some action in this area could help parents to believe their children are safe. Another might be the removal of priests being the heads of Catholic primary Schools. You have lots to do, but I doubt people will believe Press Releases.

Laurie Sheehan | 20 February 2018  

Five Australian archbishops have admitted to a fundamental failure of leadership. It seems that clerical abuse of children and vulnerable adults is a by-product of a fundamentally distorted system in which many bishops exhibit a lack of a human capacity for emotional dialogue, moral intelligence and faithfulness to Christ's teachings. In three out of four Gospels Jesus is quoted as saying that children have (by their very nature) prime qualities which are needed for heaven. Since the Church has ignored Christ on the pristine value of a child's character, it is guilty of denial of Christ through betrayal of trust. The CDF has replaced the ideals of Christ (as teacher and healer) with the ideals of the Catholic Institution which claims itself as icon and center. Criminal negligence on the part of numerous bishops says that the idealized clerical culture has lost sight of its God given mandate to uphold and teach the legacy of Christ. What needs to change? Those who are genuinely engaged with their ordained Holy Orders must use their status and 'ego identity' for service to the young and vulnerable faithful rather than as a power for itself. The mission statement must be: for Service to others, Healing the wounds of division, Teaching of wisdom and revealing God's grace and action in our world.

Trish Martin | 20 February 2018  

Sheree highlights appalling statistics... namely "4400 allegations of sexual abuse against 1880 members of the clergy, in 1000 different Catholic institutions, over the last six decades". In the interests of fairness I must remind everybody that there is an important distinction between an allegation and a proven fact. Recently in the U.K. this reality was perfectly illustrated. The Wiltshire Police investigated allegations against the former P.M. Edward Heath. The original accuser was joined by 39 others, making 40 in all. Of those, only seven accusations were assessed as warranting an interview with the accused man (had he still been alive) Meaning that about 83% were dismissed as not credible. Incidentally the remaining seven did not stand up to scrutiny... either! Which prompts my questions....Of the 4400 clergy accusations, how many were subject to preliminary examination by police? Of those so investigated, how many passed the first test? Namely warranting an interview with the accused person? Finally... how many of the 4400 accusations resulted in charges being brought by the police? Unless we know these things, then it is rather meaningless to use the figure of "4400 accusations" as being indicative of any widespread abuse?.

malcolm harris | 20 February 2018  

Thanks, Pam for your explanation, and John Frawley for your help. But Pam, while the worthy activities you list are things that might be in the repertory of somebody trying to be a good christian, none of them seem to me to justify describing the doer as "being church". I find the concept repellant. How can I permit myself to be equated with the corrupt and in many ways wicked organization that poses as the RC church in this era. Like many organizations with a worthy foundational ethic and many good people belonging to it, the institutional church has become a magnet for power-grabbers, time-servers and sexual predators who look after each others' interests while being fed and honoured by the gullible punters. I am not it, and object to phraseology that suggests such an identity. CPSL sounds like a great idea that will achieve nothing: "focused on holding Church leaders to account"? Good luck with that! How do you propose to start? Will you contact the present pope and suggest he get serious about sacking protectors of pedophiles? If that's on the agenda, I suggest email, don't waste money on a postage stamp.

OldG | 20 February 2018  

Of course Malcolm there is, at law, 'an important distinction between an allegation and a proven fact'. But when the hierarchy did its best to make sure that allegations were never brought to the attention of the civil authorities and so never tested in a secular court, is it any wonder that there are so many allegations? Perhaps you should ask the hierarchy on how many occasions priests and brothers were moved on the basis of allegations. Or have those records been 'lost'? Are you seriously suggesting that the Royal Commission 'got it wrong'?

Ginger Meggs | 21 February 2018  

The hierarchy is to be congratulated for establishing CPSL. It’s the closest that the Church has got to the equivalent of the role of Auditor-General in government or the Audit Committee in a public company. Auditors-general are independent of the executive and report to Parliament. Audit committees are independent of management and report to the board. It appears the CPSL will be independent of the hierarchy but as there is no equivalent in the Church of a parliament or board it will report to the public, as it were. CPSL Board members will be nominated by a committee consisting of two existing members and two persons appointed by the hierarchy, a process which is intended to ensure that the Board remains, and is seen to remain, at arm's length from the hierarchy. All well and good, so far as it goes. However the remit of the CPSL is much narrower than that of an auditor-general or a corporate audit committee and it remains to be seen how the hierarchy will react to unfavourable audit reports. We can only 'watch this space'.

Ginger Meggs | 21 February 2018  

That a religion is inspired from the divine does not exempt it from being maladministered. Clerical sex abuse isn’t the biggest scandal in the Catholic Church’s history. The Catholic Church’s biggest failure, like Islam’s or Hinduism’s or Buddhism’s or Shinto’s or the various brands of Orthodoxy or Protestantism or what have you, is that in those lands where the religion was overwhelmingly dominant to the point of being practically the sole religion, the practice of it did not create universal justice and prosperity. And so the Catholic Church’s biggest failure is South America, Islam’s Arabia, Orthodoxy’s Eastern Europe, Calvinism and Lutheranism’s Northern Europe, Anglicanism’s Great Britain, Hinduism’s India, and so on. I suppose since God can’t be held responsible, the culprits must be Spanish and Portuguese, Arabs, Greeks and Russians and their religious kin, northern Europeans, Poms, Indians, and so on. Not that atheists can point to anywhere where the practice of atheism has produced a just and prosperous society, while everyone can point to Revolutionary France, the Soviet Union, pre-1978 Communist China, Red Khmer Cambodia and North Korea as where the official practice of atheism can lead.

Roy Chen Yee | 21 February 2018  

Liked John's comment on the 21st, and how he recounted his experience, being brought up a Catholic. Was similar to mine, but was only an altar boy for about 2 years. However I never saw, or heard, anything that even hinted at deviancy, in a priest. Lived in that parish 30 years, heard some gossip of priests having girlfriends, but nothing about any child molestation. My wife and her relatives were born and raised in different parishes. And they say the same, plenty of gossip, but nothing about child abuse. Few years ago mentioned this on overseas blog. An American lady responded to my comment, saying...she had four brothers, all altar servers, but none were aware of any child abuse. She then cast a wider net, and contacted her male cousins, as she recalled they were also servers. Same result....none of them had heard of it either. First they became aware was when it was appearing in the mainstream media. Incidentally in an earlier lifetime I was an auditor, which caused me to question and seek explanations. The explanation here is that the Catholic Church is under attack from secularists. Our silence will only help them.

malcolm harris | 21 February 2018  

Malcolm Harris. Concerning the 4400 historical clergy accusations in Australia. At a hearing of the United Nations Committee in Geneva in May 2014 on the matter of institutional sexual abuse, Vatican representatives said that 848 priests had been defrocked and 2572 others punished (?how). This represented the total number of cases brought to the attention of the Vatican from around the world in the years 2004 -2014 and included many historical cases dating back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The cases in Australia were also historically prominent in these same decades, the era of the great sexual revolution launched with vigour in the 1950s and fuelled by the oral contraceptive pill. It makes one wonder why the rest of the world contributed only 3,320 cases while Australia alone claims 4400. This can only mean either that the Catholic Church failed to notify any or very few cases to the Vatican during the 60s, 70s and 80s and not many in the decade 2004 to 2014 or that the 4400 figure is greatly inflated. Something is not right somewhere in the reporting of this whole disastrous mess and it is difficult to speculate as to where that failure lies. It would be enlightening to know just how many cases were reported to the Australian Church over the time frames mentioned and how many priests were involved, defrocked or otherwise punished. Until the Church makes these figures openly available to its people healing will not occur. Religious are not held in the same esteem as the priest who, unlike a religious , in the instrument of God's work on planet Earth. Because of this, priestly abuse is the scandal that has done the most damage in my view. It is also necessary to know if the 4400 are allegations or proven after full investigation as you indicated in your comment. In the interests of healing I wish the Church would tell us.

john frawley | 22 February 2018  

Apologies !!! 1800 Australian cases not 4400. I misread the data and thought the 4400 referred to number of abusers. 1800 abusers, however, is still a huge number in Australia's population compared with the rest of the world.

john frawley | 23 February 2018  

"In the interests of healing I wish the Church would tell us". They won't John, because it would expose more reality, including the sexual abuse of adults or at least, the sexual activity of what for the most we all presumed were celibate chaste men. Indeed, it was or has been their ability to conquer the strong sexual urge that gives them their mystique and respect. Is it deserved????? The church won't tell you the true figures - they are too great if one includes all sexual activity with other people. What are we to assume otherwise?

Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 23 February 2018  

John Frawley, on the 23rd, appears to have missed the point of my comment two days before. Was attempting to bring people back to the basic tenets of western justice. Such as.... "there is no crime unless there is compelling evidence of a crime". And also the U.N. charter of human rights, which includes safeguards.... i.e. "right to a fair trial"......and "right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty" Not to mention the... "right to good reputation". All these fundamental rights appear to have been taken away from Catholic priests. By drawing attention to those accusations against the late Edward Heath, and how they all subsequently collapsed, I was attempting to suggest that priests should have been given the same rights. Had all allegations been investigated by police, then in my view, the majority would have collapsed. Why?. Because as with Edward Heath, the priests were seen as an irresistible tempting target. by many calculating opportunists. However when the stories (against Heath) were put under investigative scrutiny..... they just fell apart. Surely there is a cautionary message in this... for all of us.

malcolm harris | 23 February 2018  

John how can you place any reliance on any of the figures provided by the Church either locally or centrally? While the proportion of priests and religious who offended may have been small, the proportion of bishops and religious leaders who covered up was undeniably large. It is the cover-up by the hierarchy rather than the original abuse by priests and brothers that has destroyed the credibility of the Church and, by extension, its ‘evidence’. When one weighs the credibility of the Royal Commission against that of the Royal Commission how could anyone come down in favour of the latter?

Ginger Meggs | 23 February 2018  

Roy I would argue that it’s not when religions or other ‘-isms’ are dominant that the problem occurs but rather when they claim to have ‘the truth’ whether divinely or otherwise revealed. And by the way, Révolutionary. France was not ‘atheistic’. The revolutionary constitution guaranteed religious freedom (which was, surprise surprise, opposed by the Catholic Church) and the revolutionary government proposed that all parish clergy and even bishops by funded by the State.

Ginger Meggs | 23 February 2018  

Ginger. I agree with you completely that the bishops are the damningly culpable ones. Had they immediately dealt with the abusers and referred them to the justice of our civil courts, the would have been lauded by all including the non-Catholic community. Instead, in failing to do so, they have incurred the wrath of all and driven many Catholics away from the establishment they call "Church". In their gutlessness and self-interest they have destroyed the Church.

john frawley | 25 February 2018  

Precisely John, the bishops and the heads of the various orders. And although there has been a lot of guilt-shifting, sorry-saying, and forgiveness-seeking, there has been precious little accountability-accepting. To my knowledge not one of them has been fired let alone turned in his mitre and crook voluntarily. (I apologise for the typo in my previous post: my second use of the words 'Royal Commission' should, obviously, have been 'the church'.)

Ginger Meggs | 25 February 2018  

To John and Ginger. Now the BIG question is 'why'? Why did the bishops react the way they did. There's one very disturbing line from a witness in the Victorian inquiry which might go someway to explaining why: As Father Searson, formerly a priest at a Doveton parish school in south-eastern Melbourne brazenly disclosed to an editor of a Catholic magazine who challenged him about his predatory behaviour with children, "I’m not worried about what the bishops might do to me, because of what I know about the bishops." Is this a bald boast of a predator or is it reality. Sip[e seems to think it is reality. The other big question, the main thrust of my PhD is HOW they do it, how they actually cover-up etc. We need to know this as well as the why. We will get to the bottom of this in spite of the smoke screens of sincerity. I say 'smoke screens' because I know of cases of clergy sexual misconduct against adults happening while the Royal Commission was happening, which showed no desire for change at all.

Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 02 March 2018  

Stephen De Weger, on the 3rd, refers to a remark by a alleged predator who was supposed to have said ....he was not worried about what the Bishops would do to him... because he knew too much about the Bishops. Stephen then asked himself.... whether this was just a bald boast or actual reality?. Speaking as someone whose job it was (auditor) to separate facts from fiction. My experience was that wrongdoers actually become very skilled at shifting the spotlight onto others. Incidentally in my particular parish there were no secrets. Any abuse of a child by a priest would have spread like wildfire. So all this talk about cover-ups? It's something that has always puzzled me?.

malcolm harris | 02 March 2018  

Ginger Meggs: “I would argue that it’s not when religions or other ‘-isms’ are dominant that the problem occurs but rather when they claim to have ‘the truth’ whether divinely or otherwise revealed.” Actually, the problem was that the masses that belonged to the one religion failed to live up to the ‘truth’ of that religion. As for the French Revolution, walking the talk is important as the relevant sections in the Declaration of the Rights of Man seem to have been copied into the Soviet Constitution, in which country the Orthodox clergy were also paid by the state. The French revolutionaries walked their talk by closing religious institutions, making clergy sign loyalty oaths to the state and so on.

Roy Chen Yee | 04 March 2018  

Hang on Malcolm, when you say "My experience was that wrongdoers actually become very skilled at shifting the spotlight onto others" are you referring as it sounds to the priest mentioned? If so, then there is a contradiction at least in your argument: You say it is the priest accused who are being more oftne than not maligned or falsely accused, but if you believe that wrong doers "become very skilled at shifting the spotlight onto others" then isn't it possible that all those yu say are being 'falsely accused are simply doing just that - shifting the attention away from themselves back on to accusations of alleged victims of lying, as wrongdoers (abusive clergy/paedophiles) are so good at doing?

Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 11 March 2018  

Malcolm, your comment encouraged me to make contacts with those involved in the infamous line by the abusive priest. I have been deeply reassured by these devout Catholics who were directly involved with people in the conversation with the priests that the statement was definitely made and that the priest meant it - I.E. it was true what he said. Just thought I'd let you know.

Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 11 March 2018  

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