Accountability a virtue in churches and banks

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Accountability, that is individuals being held accountable for those matters for which they are either formally or practically responsible, is a vital link between leaders and their communities, whether they are members, supporters, shareholders or voters.

Press briefing with Chilean bishops in Rome, May 14, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNAIt can be achieved in various ways. For instance, both individual and collective ministerial responsibility are built into our Westminster system of government, which links the government and the public service to the parliament and ultimately to the people through a chain of accountability. But in other areas of life the links are less clear.

In practice accountability can be a crude and sometimes harsh instrument when used in daily life. I often have sympathy for those who pay the price of collective failure even though they may not be personally responsible.

We see it in practice each time a football coach is sacked for a team's poor results even though there might actually be nothing wrong with the coaching; it might be the players who are at fault. But sacking the coach is a necessary intervention for confidence to be restored among members and supporters and to show that at least someone has taken responsibility for the group's failure.

We are also seeing accountability in practice in public life following the startlingly adverse revelations of crime and corruption by the Royal Commission into the Banking and Financial Services Industries. The prime examples have come from the insurance giant, AMP, where the chair, Catherine Brenner, and three other board members have announced their resignations. Brenner has also effectively been forced off another board, and the rumblings have been heard right through the corporate sector.

For all their apparent harshness such outcomes, which may be more symbolic than anything else despite the individual pain and cost, are almost always positive. They serve as a pressure valve being released on built-up tension, as well as showing that the board must take ultimate responsibility for the actions of those in the organisation.

There are lessons here too for other major institutions under fire, like governments and the Catholic Church. In both areas the mechanisms of accountability are weaker than they ought to be, or sometimes practically non-existent.

 

"Accountability in action is best when it is proactive. It loses its impact when it is resisted and comes as a last resort. Institutions of all sorts must be seen to be on the front foot in this regard."

 

Despite the inbuilt mechanisms of individual and collective responsibility in government we see little of either in practice these days. When individual ministers do resign or are sacked it is now almost always because of personal crimes or sins, like evidence of travel rorts, conflicts of interest or sexual harassment, rather than because of the policy and administration failures of those for whom they are responsible.

Governments are so defensive that they will do almost anything to prevent the Opposition claiming a scalp. To do so would be an admission of failure in government policy or administration. A minister may be quietly dropped much later, but not with any admission of failure because that would implicate the leader or the government as a whole.

Within the church the same applies. The recent offer of resignation made as a group to Pope Francis by the entire Chilean hierarchy is a breath of fresh air. The sexual abuse crisis in the Chilean church, which has also engulfed the Pope himself, needed such a dramatic action as a sign of accountability to restore some credibility with the Chilean Catholic community and the wider public. As in politics, whether the resignations are accepted may even be less important than the gesture of responsibility which has been made.

Accountability in action is best when it is proactive. It loses its impact when it is resisted and comes as a last resort. Institutions of all sorts must be seen to be on the front foot in this regard.

In Australia what the church has lacked is an obvious sign of accountability by leaders, whether of religious orders or dioceses, for the crimes covered up by institutional responses to child sexual abuse. General apologies don't go far enough. Compensation is necessary, but also not enough. The reputation of the church would now be higher if there were more obvious signals of accountability by those in charge. This would not imply personal but official responsibility.

Let's hope recent events in many sectors lead to a widespread outbreak of accountability across Australia.

 

 

John WarhurstJohn Warhurst is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University and chairs Concerned Catholics Canberra-Goulburn.

Main image: Press briefing with Chilean bishops in Rome, May 14, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Topic tags: John Warhurst, banks, royal commission, clergy sexual abuse

 

 

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What more obvious signs of accountability on the part of religious superiors and bishops in Australia would you suggest, John?
John | 22 May 2018


Are you suggesting they also resign on mass?! Given that most of the bishops in Australia have been appointed in the recent decade this would seem incredibly counterproductive. The mantra that 'sorry is never enough' runs counter to the fundamental Gospel message of repentance, metanoia, reparation and redemption. Yes, it is possible for leaders to deeply repent and be the means by which a new day dawns.
Cate | 22 May 2018


Resigning a position as a means of accountability for something going wrong is a visible step in the right direction. It says to a community "I personally have not fulfilled an obligation or a trust." It acknowledges that other people have been let down. Whether it's personal or official responsibility the message is the same. For healing to occur though a deeper commitment to change needs to occur, both for the person/organisation taking the responsibility and the people adversely affected. It's good to say "yes, my fault" even better to say "how can we both heal?"
Pam | 22 May 2018


People may now give input into the 2020 Australian Catholic Plenary Council by going to the website www.plenarycouncil.catholic.org.au This is a golden opportunity for lay people to try to make the Catholic hierarchy more accountable. Pope Francis has rightly called clericalism an evil in the Church and unless our clergy are successfully challenged on this evil I believe the Catholic Church will continue to spiral downwards in church attendance. The child sexual abuse crisis is just one symptom of a church with such disfunctional governance so well highlighted at the Royal Commission. Please don't miss out on this opportunity to have your say and contribute to the renewal of a church that still does much good and has huge potential for even greater good, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and an involved laity.
Grant Allen | 22 May 2018


Are you suggesting they also resign on mass?! Now, there's a thought. I keep asking though...WHY? Why has the church not been "proactive”? Why does accountability, or a form of it, always seem to be "resisted and come as a last resort"? Are these noble men following cannon law or are they all somehow trying to cover up a deeper broader malaise that hides within the clergy - that of very low rates of actual 'chastity' as we have been always taught to believe was the expectation of our clergy. Why would one be 'proactive’ if doing so meant the threat of being personally exposed, if not for actual sexual 'mistakes' (as one witness at the Royal Commission called it) then at least for perhaps sexual identity issues coming to the fore or being threatened to be exposed in a 'you-throw-a-stone-at-me-and-I'll-throw-a-bolder-back'. How can good holy men representing Christ not be accountable, not WANT to be accountable? That's the question I keep asking, and am researching. As well, what is of deep interest is how they actually go about neutralising being accountable. It's a very sad but interesting area of research.
Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 23 May 2018


"Please don't miss out on this opportunity to have your say". Grant how in practice is the average Catholic in the pew (or quite possibly not in the pew) going to do this? I am 70.At a home liturgy in my deeply divided parish last weekend a much younger parishioner (currently worshipping 'in exile') suggested to me that we needed to think practically about how we might participate. I had to say that we have not even been told who our representative at the official launch will be and that this is in my view indicative of how the whole process will proceed. We will be told what is happening. We will be given the letters (or more likely , as last weekend. have them read to us). We will be invited to follow the website. We will be bystanders. Again.... It is after all a Plenary Council of Bishops. Their Council. But it is our Church. "How long Lord...?"
Margaret | 23 May 2018


Thank you Grant for your helpful comment and also to Pam. Thanks are also due to John Warhurst for his article. Last night on 7.30 Frank Brennan SJ made excellent, typically sensitive and thoughtful comments about accountability, in the context of the sad revelations and conviction of Archbishop Wilson. He suggested each of the bishops of Australia owe accountability to each other. I fully agree and, going further, believe they should each offer their resignations to the Holy Father, to allow a fresh review of their individual responsibilities, in the aftermath of the findings of the Royal Commission into institutional abuse. So far we have heard only words of purported compassion for the victims of abuse. I would make the obvious point they are not only accountable to the Holy Father but equally to us, the laity.
Michael Kennedy | 23 May 2018


"I would make the obvious point they are not only accountable to the Holy Father but equally to us, the laity. " Now there's the germ of a really good idea! How about we return to the tradition of the Early Church and elect Bishops? Electors to include not only the clergy but the laity... If we don't begin to think outside the box the box will (as is starting to seem almost inevitable) become a coffin.
Margaret | 23 May 2018


Thanks John, I agree with your views expressed here. However I do despair about the institution of church in its understanding of both accountability and empathy. Love one another like Christ's love is a central tenet of the Catholic Church and yet when the Bishops issued their statement yesterday, in response to the outcome of Bishop Wilson's trial, there was no empathetic appreciation of victim impact nor apology. Its way past the time for the hierarchy to show they understand. Mass resignation is not necessary if understanding can be shown of the grievous and ongoing victim impact. But they can't demonstrate that understanding and empathy and therefore should not continue in their roles. As one of those abused, I know what was needed to be shown by the Church leaders and their response has been appallingly lacking. However I know that 'we are the Church' and I'm ready to do my part in moving forward, aware that abusers will always be in our midst and can no longer be protected.
Carol | 23 May 2018


If it is deemed sensible, as seems to be implied, that all the Catholic bishops of Australia resign because of the historical mistakes of their forefathers, perhaps we can authenticate the sensibility of this principle by exporting it to the real world, and requiring Bill Shorten and his frontbench to resign because detention of boat people began with Gerry Hand.
Roy Chen Yee | 23 May 2018


Stephen, I fail to see how you can conflate the issue of accountability regarding knowledge of criminal misconduct (sex abuse) with chastity. Chastity is hopefully something all Christians, as well as those of other faiths and even humanist atheists, should expect of each other. Chastity - which is basically another word for faithfulness in personal relationships - is a challenge for everyone - whether it be for a single, married person, or someone who's vowed to live a life of celibacy.
AURELIUS | 23 May 2018


It would be a great gesture of humility and justice, and a sign that at last "they get it", if all our Australian bishops did resign. Then we could truly have a new beginning. I would like to have each of them produce a one page public declaration on why the Pope should keep them. Most were appointed specifically because they were regarded as institutionally and dogmatically safe and conservative, and would not rock the boat. Well...that worked out well!
Eugene | 23 May 2018


John, A wonderful response to the problem of "clericalism" in the Church. Sadly the Church like many institutions , religious and secular as well as governments, have a habit of placing themselves above the people they are supposed to serve, be it the Banks, AMP and even the Turnbull Government and our own ACT Government. I find it informative that Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as having grave concerns about the leadership of Judaism in his time. Of course the account is coloured by the attitude of the writers , following the early Christians exclusion from the Jewish faith in the years following Jesus death and the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the Year 70. Sadly the attitude of the hierarchy to the Sexual Abuse allegations has been less than edifying since it came to light some decades ago. I am not surprised at the verdict handed down regarding Archbishop Hart. However I was far from impressed by the response of the ACBC through Archbishop Coleridge . Instead of accepting the verdict of the Court , the Conference attempted to 'whitewash' Hart's culpability as being due to his desire to protect 'Holy Mother Church'. As John has illustrated, when things go wrong, leaders must be held responsible, whether they be Chairpersons of Boards, Coaches or Church Leaders. I applaud the actions of the Bishops of Chile in tendering their collective resignations to the Pope. I believe after reading the accounts of the scandals in the U.S, Canada and Ireland, as well as the issues affecting the Australian Church, maybe its about time we had a 'cleanout' of those responsible for the abuses, those in leadership at the time, as well as any current hierarchy found to have continued the cover ups. It is better for the sake of the Church to have a 'leaner' hierarchy. However given the decline in clergy numbers, suitable replacements may be hard to find. However for the sake of the laypeople who are, after all the 'Church', this must be done as a matter of urgency. I am sorry but I must disagree with Cate, Jesus was empathic about anyone leading others into sin. With leadership goes responsibility . I agree with Pam in this regard. I for one will be responding to the Plenary Session website and I will encourage my parish community and my family and friends to do so as well. However I am not confident, based on personal experience with the hierarchy, that they will take much notice. When Church attendance fells to financially dangerous levels , as it will as us 'baby boomers' fall off the perch, maybe the Hierarchy will get the message !
Gavin | 23 May 2018


As an initial step in the very near future, the Australian Bishops must release to Australian Catholics, the Final Report of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which was submitted to them last month on 4th April. To demonstrate that they accept their accountability for the cover-up of child sexual abuse by clergy, the second step they must take in a reasonably short time from now is to respond to that final report, responding to the whole Church in Australia. Only after that would it be appropriate for any or all of them to offer their resignation to Pope Francis. Resignation before "coming clean" to the Catholic laity, and preferably to Australian people generally, sounds like an easy way to dodge accountability, rather than demonstrating it.
Ian Fraser | 23 May 2018


Indeed - bravo to the Bishops of Chile - but it is just an offer - why not simply resign - en masse - and let the reorganisation commence. But it is an edifying act of conscience. Watching the aged though still only 68 y.o. Phillip Wilson scurrying away from his conviction yesterday - saying nothing to console his victims present in the court - flinging, as it were, back over his shoulder that he'd be appealing - I was aghast. He must have expected to get out of this, I thought. Who is around him - why was he not being advised that of course he would be found guilty and so how should he manage that eventuality. Surely with humility and immediate resignation. He and the other fellow yet to face the court are destroying whatever ethical foundations might still be found with the hierarchy - some of them at least - surely - and tainting them by lingering on. The Church appears fortunate to have a committed laity - let them tackle the reformation and boot aside any bishops fighting against the necessary cleansing.
Jim KABLE | 23 May 2018


Jerimiah 7“‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, This text seems to be appropriate in view of the Church's attitude at the present
David | 23 May 2018


Aurelius, I knew it would happen. If I chose the word 'celibacy' then people would say that only means not being married, so this time I thought I'd use the word chastity as in the 'vow/promise of chastity/celibacy, or, non-sexual activity. I should have made myself clearer. You're right of course. But you know, the point I was really trying to make was not about chastity/celibacy but the fear of being foundpout that one is not living up to expectations in that area as being a major cause for clergy and hierarchical silence - that's the main point. Of course, if a cleric uses their positional power to manipulate others into sexual activity with them, as my study has shown happens, and as most clergy know happens in some way, whether they call it experimenting, mistakes, loneliness seeking love or any other activity on a long continuum of 'explanations' to normalise their sexual activity as celibates, well that's another issue. Clergy and the bishops that 'control' them need to be just as accountable for the reality of celibate sexual activity, then perhaps we might get somewhere to being a more realistic and less fantastical church.
Stephen de Weger | 23 May 2018


"In the footnotes of the 10-page document leaked to Chile’s T13 television, Francis also accuses Chile’s hierarchy of destroying evidence in cases of clerical sexual abuse, pressuring Church lawyers to minimize accusations, moving priests with credible accusations of abuse to other dioceses and of “grave negligence” in protecting children from pedophile priests." Source: Innes St Martin "Crux" May 18 2018. How familiar and how similar to the revelations of the Australian Royal Commission. Coverups, turning a blind eye, denial, trivialisation of the gravity of offences, moving offenders to new areas. (one senior priest at the Rc called abuse misguided love".) Should the Bishops resign en masse here? That is a matter for them as the strenuous denials seem to continue. There are never admissions of guilt. Apologies are a sop. Compensation usually trivial in comparison to the USA payouts. So perhaps the church needs to realise that men cooped up together in orders and monasteries CANT lead celibate lives despite their best intentions. Surely if the Anglicans and the Orthodox priests can marry, so too should the catholics. And that may not solve the problem either, but it may be a good start.
francis Armstrong | 24 May 2018


Its exceedingly infuriating when discussion of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church moves to celibacy, chastity, or whatever you want to call it. Sexual abuse is a crime, its not about sex its about power and the sooner Catholics discern the difference the sooner we can move onto the more serious issue of how to stop it! And I recognise that author John understands the distinction and so do many other fellow Catholics, so please don't take on my criticism if you too know the difference.
Carol | 24 May 2018


All organizations, including churches and banks, have to be held to account in spending other people’s money. None should be immune to reasonable scrutiny and transparency. Catholic institutions are no exception. Sadly, in my experience in educational leadership, I have had to deal with secret commissions, kickbacks, misappropriations, conflicts of interest, insider lists of “good Catholic” architects/builders/suppliers and so on.
John Ormond Kennedy | 24 May 2018


Stephen de Weger, I'm still perplexed by what you seem to perceive the real moral issue at stake is. There's no moral distinction whatsoever in Catholic social teaching between the moral ideals of a single, married or vowed religious celibate. The distinction you are referring to , in my personal opinion, is the elevation of priestly chastity to be be above that of mere mortal lay people. So rather than perpetuate this toxic clericalism that spiritualises the sexuality of clergy over and above that of "lay" people, why not just embrace the reality that it's not all just about sex - but about abuse emotional abuse. In the context of adult relationships, it's quite possible that a clergy member could manipulate and abuse someone emotionally without even engaging in sexual acts. At the same time, someone could also break a vow of celibacy through a purely sexual/anonymous act without emotional damage (ie with a prostitute). My point is simply that consensual adult sexual activity can never be compared with the criminal sexual abuse of minors.
AURELIUS | 24 May 2018


Carol, I do agree that sex abuse is about power and have written an article to be published any day now about that very topic. I just need to reiterate here again that I was not so much talking about sex abuse as being about celibacy/chastity but, in line with the article's subject matter, the fact that knowledge of clerical sexual activity of any format is possibly one of the reasons, and maybe the main reason, that clergy do not speak up when sex abuse or even sexual activity of fellow clergy is discovered. My point was that the church (clergy/hierarchy in this case) need to be much more accountable for the fact of clergy sexual activity even though they present themselves as 'celibate and chaste'.
Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 25 May 2018


So, there is also individual accountability. While I do agree that it is about ‘power not sex’, I don't think we should ignore the fact that for so many males especially, it is also just about sex, pure and simple. The 'it's-about-power' theory originated from feminist critical analysis, from a predominantly women’s sociological perspective of men and male sexuality, and while the guts of that analysis may be applicable on a broader sociological scale, I do think it is now tending towards being a theoretical and unconsidered cliché, an easy meme to explain something which is perhaps more complex but also, more simple, more ‘individual’. Many men, straight and gay clerics included, just want sex. Many clergy who become sexually active, who are experimenting with sexuality, or establishing ‘relationships’ with adults, do not want the everyday human commitment of an open real relationship; after all, they are already married to the church. Eventually they recoil back to their ‘spouse’ and the other adult is left to deal with the fallout and harm produced. I am not being merely theoretical here. My study had many women and men who explained their experiences with a priest exactly thus. As such, individual clergy also need to be accountable, and held accountable, for the effects their sexual activities are having on adults as well as children.
Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 25 May 2018


@Aurelius 24th May. "why not just embrace the reality that it's not all just about sex - but about abuse emotional abuse" - and you may as well add ‘and power’ to that line. Aurelius, if you read my research you would see that I would totally agree with you here and in regard to most of what you say. But there is a distinction which Catholics just don't seem to get and which you also do not seem to appreciate (and I am not talking about what 'should be' but what 'is') and you make the same point (“the elevation of priestly chastity”) - but that's the problem. With clerical abuse of ANY kind, be it emotional sexual, financial, power, psychological, spiritual or any other form, we are dealing more with 'professional' (elevated) power, rather than an equality of power as found between lay people. However, of course there are elements of power inequality between lay people as well and of course we all need to be ‘chaste’ in our relationships with others, but when professionals are involved there is one level of power in particular that takes over - positional (elevated) power. Aurelius, please, if you seriously think that I am conflating "consensual adult sexual activity with "criminal sexual abuse of minors" than I suspect you are reading me through ideological-coloured glasses rather than your own. I get what you're saying about Catholic social teaching but what I am on about is that there seems to be no acknowledgment and therefore no accountability for the sexual abuse of adults as well as children. I am also not talking theory or hypotheticals here, but empirical research, something which the Church, lay and hierarchy need to seriously read for themselves.
Stephen de Weger (catholicmetoo.com) | 25 May 2018


It may be that the need for sexual satisfaction is a powerful and instinctive human trait which has nothing to do with celibacy, power etc. The fact that human beings realised that uncontrolled, instinctive sexual behaviour was disruptive of and destructive to ordered society accounts for the controls put in place on sexual activity by cultures from time immemorial. Some human beings have always placed themselves above such constraints, another flawed human trait. We are not going to change the ways human beings respond to instinctive behaviours by our man made contrivances regardless of what clothes adorn those contrivances. All that we can do is apply the law that has been devised to maintain civilised living together in community. Failure to apply the law to abusing organisations regardless of their constitutions is the problem. Now that the law has finally acted against those organisations that have ignored it, such as Churches and banks, we might get somewhere.
john frawley | 25 May 2018


@ francis Armstrong | 24 May 2018 "So perhaps the church needs to realise that men cooped up together in orders and monasteries CAN'T lead celibate lives despite their best intentions. Surely if the Anglicans and the Orthodox priests can marry, so too should the catholics. And that may not solve the problem either, but it may be a good start". Nailed it, Francis. Just one thing: "Compensation [is] usually trivial in comparison to the USA payouts". This is mostly due to the fact that in the USA, victims/survivors can sue the Church via their legal system. Here we now have the "Ellis case" where there is no entity such as 'The Catholic Church" which one can sue - mind you that's starting to change with the Ellis defence starting to be deleted. But seriously, while I think that criminal and civil proceedings should be the way to go (rather than a redress scheme) having seen a few people go through it, I wouldn't wish the process on anyone and it was that reaction that the church was aiming for when it took on Ellis. Perhaps it's our adversarial system of law but when it comes to lawsuits any following of Jesus Christ goes flying out the courtroom door.
Stephen de Weger | 27 May 2018


Ok, Aurelius, here’s a hypothetical. Just say you are a priest who does believe in the concept of clerical celibacy, but also believes that there are times when sexual activity for a priest or student priest is, well, psychologically good for them for personal developmental reasons, so you encourage it. Further, let’s say you didn’t believe in mandatory celibacy but still wanted to be a priest, so you develop a necessarily ‘hidden’ relationship with a woman or man. Now, would you want either your views or your relationships and sexual preferences as a ‘celibate clergyman’, in the current context, to be made public? Ok, so, let’s say you then come across a cleric who is behaving ‘unchastely’ with a child and even an adult; would you feel free to do something about it? And what if they then turn around and say, “well, you’re being a bit hypocritical, and if you expose me, well, then I will have to do the same”? In such a case, then, you would probably not want that exposure and as a result, sexual abuse is sort of being ‘actually’ though perhaps not ’morally’ conflated with supposedly consensual sexual activity (relationships) with criminal or even non-criminal sexual abuse. Actually, many forms of sex between professionals (clergy) and adults is also ‘criminal’. Either way, how would ‘accountability’ even get a look in, in such hypothetical situations …. well, from my and Richard Sipe’s research, these are not at all hypothetical situations, but very much a reality in the current church.
Stephen de Weger | 28 May 2018


A question for all, but especially those who should be being accountable: Why has there been an almost deafening silence from the clergy class about clergy sexual abuse…why? Why are there not hundreds, even thousands of Tom Doyles? A few brave clergy have stood up. What we have been fed from pulpits and bishops 'sermons' and letters to be read out, is not 'accountability': it is more akin to sentimentality or reconcilliatory and reassurance modes of neutralisation, which seek more to simply placate rather than to seriously attack the issue from within.
Stephen de Weger | 28 May 2018


Stephen and Francis, surely it's extreme to generalise that celibacy is not possible as a response to Christ's call? - In fact, quite unfair to priests and religious who live out their calling faithfully in constructive ministries for the good of the Church and society.
John | 28 May 2018


John, yes you are right on the individual level, it is possible for some, but it appears to not possible for so, so many. The reality is that most clergy 'fall' at some stage on their journey TO celibacy. As well, as Richard Sipe stills claims, only 50% of clergy are in fact being celibate/chaste, the other 50% are sexually involved in some way albeit mainly with eachother and other adult men and women (mind you, with the aging of clergy, this may no longer be quite the case). Though I know I'll get some flak for saying this, I now cannot and will not say blanket-ly that all of these cases are 'abusive' - this is to fall into essentialism and biased theorism rather than realistic analysis. But yes, of course there is the presence of power differentials, but sometimes that power balance can be reversed - I know it can, but this is too complex here in a 200-word comment to discuss. Suffice it to say that while mandatory celibacy is the norm, and sexual problems of clergy will not go away, there will result sexual activity with others. If people are OK with such activity not being accounted for, then I have nothing to research....except the often cruel and seriously abusive experiences of those on the receiving end of Catholic clergy 'celibacy' contortions, and, what happens to these others when they report.
Stephen de Weger | 28 May 2018


John if you doubt what I say I will temper it by saying read the accounts in Broken Rights website and you will get more than an inkling of the magnitude of the abuse problem. There are plenty of priests and religious that achieve celibacy, but if 50 percent fall off the wagon what is the vow worth in the long run? Taking their gratification from innocent children is the point that sticks in my craw.
Francis Armstrong | 29 May 2018


The solution is found by involving everyone, not only by those who govern. Hans Zollner: Two keys for priests to avoid sexual abuse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDIHgtWkcao
AO | 06 June 2018


For those who are interested, Professor Warhurst's reasoning in this article is corroborated by that of Garry Everett, who writes for or is published by the Good Samaritans in 'The Good Oil', as well as by John Menadue in his equally inspiring blog, 'Pearls & Irritations'. The entire Australian hierarchy is too compromised by the findings of the Royal Commission and, as would a bank or trust fund board of directors, should resign because of the dreadful ethical gaps in their accountability structures. Indeed, there is very little or no accountability in the Catholic Church. We have a parish in the Brisbane Archdiocese which never publishes its accounts, where the priest in charge is a law unto himself, and in the context of which he has recently made a unilateral decision to decorate the new church building according to his own Italianate sensibilities (but not at his own expense).
Dr Michael Furtado | 22 June 2018


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