Shaping the Pope's sexual abuse summit

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This week the presidents of bishops conferences and representatives of religious congregations around the world will meet in Rome. Pope Francis called them there to reflect on the sexual abuse of children and to come to one mind in recognising its importance and responding to it. The meeting has aroused much discussion, most of it sceptical, about whether it will achieve anything. To understand and evaluate the meeting, we should keep in mind its background and the different groups that have a particular interest in it.

Pope Francis (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)The first and most important group comprises the people whose lives have been devastated by the crimes of sexual abuse by people who held responsible positions in the Catholic Church. They include above all the direct victims whose subsequent lives have often remained blighted, but also the relatives, friends, fellow parishioners and school mates of people who were abused and Catholics whose faith was eroded.

They will hope, many against hope, that the meeting helps make children safe in the Catholic Church, more aware of the debt it owes people who were abused, and that offenders are brought to justice. To ensure that the meeting focuses on people who have been abused, Francis asked the participants to meet with them beforehand.

The second group comprises the Catholics in such nations as the United States, Ireland and Australia where the extent of abuse has been most publicised and its effects on the Catholic life most damaging. There the crisis of sexual abuse has metastasised, beginning with a focus on the perpetrators and victims. This brought the Catholic Church into disrepute and alienated a generation of Catholics.

The crisis then moved to focus on bishops and others who covered up the crimes, allowing abusers to re-offend. As a result of this bishops lost a priori credibility among Catholics as well as others when speaking about any personal or public moral issue. That was seen in public debate about same sex marriage and in the demand for criminal cases to be brought against bishops. The focus has more recently moved to the place of the Catholic Church in society, to the supervision the state should have over its activities, and to whether its financial and other privileges should be retained.

In the United States the most recent symbol of bishops' bad behaviour and the ineptitude of the Catholic Church in dealing with it is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Over many years he was promoted to high office despite reports made to United States bishops and to Rome of him behaving to say the least imprudently with seminarians. More recently he has been accused of earlier sexual abuse of children.

Embarrassed by their lack of jurisdiction to investigate charges made against their fellow bishops, the United States bishops in the November 2018 meeting proposed to institute a process. But the Roman Curia, which has yet to deliver on its promise to disclose the details of its dealings with McCarrick's case, requested that they delay until the coming meeting was held in Rome. Most bishops in the United States and other similarly placed nations will surely hope that the meeting opens the way quickly to a transparent and effective system of episcopal accountability.

 

"This debate has also affected Francis' reputation. Like Catholics generally and bishops in particular, he has been stained by the mud of the sexual abuse crisis."

 

The third group comprises bishops from churches where there are very few known cases of sexual abuse of children, either because they do not happen or because they are not reported. Many of these churches are preoccupied with other major problems — famine, for example, religious persecution or civil war. Some regard the sexual abuse of children as a malady of the west, and they may come to the meeting wanting some flexibility in the priority they give to it and in the procedures by which they deal with it.

The fourth group is a group of one: Francis. He emphasises the collegial aspect of his position, seeing himself as entrusted with the role of strengthening his fellow bishops in lived faith. In calling representatives of the bishops conferences to Rome to deal with an issue facing the whole Catholic Church he is clearly acting collegially. In his responsibility he also has the right to intervene in the life of local churches when bishops cannot or do not act rightly, as he has done most notably in Chile over the cover up of sexual abuse.

Francis has already spelled out what he wants from the meeting. In the words of his spokesperson, he hopes that 'when the bishops who will come to Rome have returned to their countries and their dioceses that they understand the laws to be applied and that they take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, to care for the victims and to make sure that no case is covered up or buried'.

The final group will not be present at the meeting but will colour the way it is reported and publicly received. They are the interested Catholics who will have a range of hopes and agendas for the Catholic Church. Most influential in shaping the reporting of Church business are the participants in the polarised debate about Francis' vision of the Catholic Church.

In his speeches and symbolic actions he has consistently softened boundaries between Pope and Church, clergy and laity, Catholics and non-Catholics, and between Church issues and public issues. He has also emphasised discernment over commandment, dialogue over confrontation, flexibility over rigidity, and the public living of the Gospel over defining it. His critics, who include some cardinals, argue that these approaches lead to a diluted faith, to a church indistinguishable in its operative beliefs and practices from secular society, and the loss of the symbols and patterns of relationship that constitute a distinctive tradition.

Where this debate has been politicised, the sexual abuse crisis is seen through partisan eyes. Prominent bishops accused of abuse or of covering it up are excoriated, defended or not mentioned, depending on whether they are seen to support or be critical of Francis' approach to the Church.

This debate has also affected Francis' reputation. Like Catholics generally and bishops in particular, he has been stained by the mud of the sexual abuse crisis. His association with people who have later been accused of covering up abuse and his slowness in orchestrating a concerted and energetic response by Roman officials to the sexual abuse crisis have been criticised. His critics, particularly a former apostolic nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Viganò, have highlighted his alleged failures in order to discredit his papacy.

Although this debate is marginal to the meeting, and indeed to the Catholic Church, it will colour many people's perception and so the public response to the meeting. It is to be hoped that the meeting itself will have a tighter focus on the people who have been abused, and a broader focus on the shaping of a Church in which children will be safeguarded and crimes of abuse and cover-up at all levels will be publicised and punished.

 

 

Andrew HamiltonAndrew Hamilton is consulting editor of Eureka Street.

Main image by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, Pope Francis, clergy sexual abuse

 

 

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An important introduction to the major issues in the Pope's Summit on Clerical Sexual Abuse of Children. Thanks Fr Andrew. This seemed to be a balanced article except for your jarring comment on Archbishop Carlo Viganò and his colleagues, who you accuse of acting, in order to discredit Francis' papacy. Yet, these clerics have made it clear that they desire truth and transparency in the Church. Their expressed intention is that Francis repent for his long years of collusion with abusers and his record of dismissive attitudes towards the awful suffering of their victims. Here we have the festering sore that is not examined and never treated. I mean: the refusal of the general body of clerics to corporately pursue the highest standard of sexual morality AND to take collective responsibility for one another, energetically resolving situations of failure. Saint Peter Damian and many other heroes of the faith worked hard to lift the morals of the body of clergy, being well aware of the seriousness of e.g. Matthew 24:51. What scandalises many of us ordinary Catholics is clergy incapacity or unwillingness to tell the truth to one another and to insist on it. Viganò et al. give us hope.
Dr Marty Rice | 15 February 2019


Good balanced article as usual, Andrew although I think you let McCarrick off a bit light - "behaving to say the least imprudently" - he sexually assaulted seminarians, using his power to confuse and manipulate them for his own pleasure. We HAVE to name this behaviour correctly. And this leads me to my main comment: There is one more group that are trying so hard to get a look in - those who have been abused by clergy as adults. Personally=, after some years of research, it has become clear to me that any summit that ignores all expressions of clergy abuse and even sexual activity, will not achieve anything. This is because all sexual activity by clergy is intertwined. Sipe went to great pains to reveal this but he is still ignored. He wrote his 11-point thesis and posted it on the 'Vatican' door so to speak. I post the link to it here for all to consider when trying to grasp this issue holistically, as it should be (see http://www.awrsipe.com/click_and_learn/2008-10-preliminary_considerations.html ). Thank you.
Stephen de Weger | 16 February 2019


This Sexual Abuse Crisis has had an abominably destructive effect on many aspects of the Catholic Church and its life. One of the purposes of the forthcoming Summit should surely be to put in place practical measures to ensure that, as far as possible, this evil does not occur ever again on the scale it did. This is a massive ask. Everything you said that needs to be done, including, most importantly, dealing justly and open handedly with the victims, does need to be done. There is something you left out in this article, but which you did deal with in previous articles, which is what I would term a need to spiritually cleanse the temple. Masses in reparation worldwide, prominently featuring the abused, if they are willing, need to be offered. These must not be allowed to be used as a means to seemingly absolve those who covered up and allowed the perpetrators to continue in clerical office. This was a massive failure in Church leadership. The average Catholic, whether alienated or not from the Church, had absolutely nothing to do with this. How the Church deals with this issue will have a profound effect on the way it survives and is able to influence the world for the better.
Edward Fido | 16 February 2019


Fr Andrew, Pope Francis may have been slow to act on the shrill accusations of Vigano, but then slowness shouldn't be confused with the need for accuracy and verification. McCarrick isn't the only one of the lofty rank of cardinal to be accused and charged with abuse. Though apparently a well kept judicial secret, it has happened right here in Australia. One wonders when the Bishops and Archbishops considered these complaints over the past 5 decades, whether it was the reputation of the church that was paramount. The need to preserve its historic authority. Francis removed Tebartz-van Elst as Bishop of Limburg for his 31 million euros lavish building projects. He was also fined 20,000 euros by the State for perjury re: flying to India first class. He had the good grace to resign. Unlike some! The point is these blokes live well. They never miss a square meal. Despite the trappings of office, the Australian hierarchy of the church squeal like stuck pigs when they are questioned, arraigned or brought to book. They deny all charges, appeal all decisions and there is no acceptance of responsibility. Its just a well paid luxurious job. Titles are the essence of clericalism.
Francis Armstrong | 16 February 2019


Yes, as Andrew emphasises, the debate about Pope Francis's words, symbolic actions and related matters must not be allowed to obscure the primary purposes of the Roman summit identified in the final paragraph.
John | 16 February 2019


Well where do I start? A good start would be “zero tolerance”. However one would have to wonder what start the Church has made when at previous meetings, such as the Youth Synod 2018 “zero tolerance towards child sexual abuse” was not included in the final document as universal agreement was not obtained. We must all take responsibility. We are talking about direction into the future and every child deserves a church, where all the hierarchy and laity will never again accept anything less than “zero tolerance"! The majority of the Church has remained silent. Victims, who have spoken, along with those who cannot speak, deserve higher standards of truth, transparency, responsibility, accountability and justice. “Zero tolerance” is the essential foundation in order to reach those higher standards. No more silence is the way, and the only way, that there will be redemption from this scourge that is "child sexual abuse in the Church”. The rejection of “zero tolerance in a church that maintains it is Christ’s Church absolutely beggars belief.
Patricia Hamilton | 16 February 2019


An important introduction to the main issues in the Pope's Summit on Clerical Sexual Abuse of Children. Thanks Fr Andrew. This seemed to be a balanced article except for an implication that Archbishop Carlo Viganò and colleagues desired to discredit Francis' papacy. Yet, these senior clerics made it clear that their motivation is for truth and transparency in the Church. Their expressed intention is that Francis repent for his years of covering for abusers and his record of dismissive attitudes towards the awful suffering of their victims. They highlight a festering sore that is kept concealed and so never cured. I mean: the refusal of the general body of clerics to corporately pursue the highest standard of sexual morality AND to take collective responsibility for one another, energetically resolving situations of failure. Saint Peter Damian and many other heroes of the faith (in awareness of the seriousness of e.g. Matthew 24:51) worked hard to lift the morals of the body of clergy. What scandalises many of us ordinary Catholics today, is widespread evidence of clergy incapacity and/or unwillingness to keep their corporate house in good moral order. Viganò et al. give us hope for a change for the better.
Dr Marty Rice | 16 February 2019


The Pope has set an agenda free of speculation and compromise for the coming week's meeting of bishops and leaders of religious congregations with the sacking/defrocking of Cardinal McCarrick reported today. Probably far too late, I fear.
john frawley | 17 February 2019


I dislike 98 % of how George Carlin has made people laugh. But he has a point in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o25I2fzFGoY Let's call those who use the most obscene form of violence towards children, young men, women and nuns. What they really are. Ugly wide animals.
the matter with | 17 February 2019


Bishop Fisher's homilies are exactly how homilies should be. He often quotes the written works of saints. St Catherine, St Augustine, St Aquinas, and explores and exposes the shallowness of the 'mere words' of philosophers such as Hume, in juxtaposition with ''Jesus' Living Words''. ''My Words are Spirit and they are Life''. (John 6:63). More often than not, when people hear mentioned a particular written work by a saint during a homily at Mass. They are inspired to seek out and read the saint's written works themselves...During his homily, Bishop Fisher mentioned (most humbly) being affectionately called a mongrel (a dog of no definable type or breed). By a friend, on hearing of his very mixed ancestral heritage. Not at all different in any respect to each christian sitting in the pews at the Cathedral yesterday during the Intercultural Mass. Making all feel particularly welcomed and acknowledged for the uniqueness with which God has bestowed each and every one of them. As every Australian's very mixed and divers ancestral heritage guarantees... But a dog? Well, why not? And yes! A very fitting animal to be compared with given he is also of the Dominican order :.... In the earliest narrative source, by Jordan of Saxony. The story is told that before his birth ( St Dominic's) his barren mother made a pilgrimage to the Abbey at Silos, and dreamt that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a flaming torch in its mouth, and "seemed to set the earth on fire." This story drew resonance from the fact that his order became known, after his name, as the Dominican order, Dominicanus in Latin which a play on words interpreted as Domini canis: "Dog of the Lord." http://dominicanfriars.org/content/uploads/2016/02/rsz_preachin_dog.jpg
AO | 18 February 2019


John Frawley good point. And just imagine if that same sanction was applied here in Australia. Removal from office and stripped of the priesthood. Its not just a matter of degree. On the face of it, Theodore McCarrick offended for decades against children and seminarians alike, whilst maintaining a hollow public facade of sincerity and regret about abuse of power within the church. Whereas in retrospect, his sole objective may have been been sexual gratification. Only 3 generations back it was a capital offence to strike a priest in Spain. An acquaintance of mine (a Brisbane lawyer) recounted a story of his grandfather who resisted a sexual advance by his priest whilst serving as an alter boy and lashed out at the offender. He had to flee Spain to preserve his life never to return. If every priest or religious who has abused a minor or student in Australia suffered the same fate from Francis as McCarrick, the ranks of the clergy and religious in this country would be depleted by a third. Pope Francis has blown "Secreta Continere" wide open.
Francis Armstrong | 18 February 2019


All who humble themselves will be exalted. Francis Armstrong you say: ''The point is these blokes live well. They never miss a square meal. Despite the trappings of office, the Australian hierarchy of the church squeal like stuck pigs when they are questioned''. Bishops have, yes, privileged lives. Though what you have written, Francis Armstrong is derogatory. Offering only bitter criticism. If a Bishop uses derogatory words, or concepts during a homily of his, unlike your words, they 'always' serve the purpose of 'powerful instruction'. “Through adversity comes bitterness or wisdom.”
AO | 18 February 2019


In spite of Jesus' clear message about giving scandal to the little ones, a significant number of priests and Brothers committed abuse in Australia impacting on the credibility and moral authority of the church to such an extent that the church may take centuries in the West to regain it. Possibly, male religious orders will vanish.. As a former Catholic principal in the 1990s being briefed about abuse protocols, it looked like church officials were putting their trust in lawyers and insurance men. And, well might Vigano accuse Francis of not acting decisively... could part of the clerical problem be the selection of ecclesiastical bureaucrats over the last 50 years who were cowed by Vatican directives and did not take decisive action against offenders? By the way might Vigano himself, in his appointment to the USA during those years when the abuse became public, possibly have something to hide?
Graeme Lawler | 18 February 2019


Well how about this proposition as regards transparency: a live broadcast of the conference so that everyone will be privy to details of it? It seems like the epitome of clericalism, a centuries old tradition permeating the Church, and therefore difficult if not impossible to eradicate. Perhaps that is just the nature of the beast. Call me a sceptic but isn't this conference just more words, words, words...
Henri | 19 February 2019


AO Well may you construe my words as derogatory and bitter. That's too bad. Yet I will not withdraw or apologise for them. I believe that titles, rank, privilege and the trappings of office within the church should be abolished. The wealth and treasures accumulated by the Church worldwide would be far better spent compensating the victims of abuse rather than wasting it on high priced lawyers to defend the guilty parties.
Francis Armstrong | 19 February 2019


Francis Armstrong writes, 'Pope Francis has blown "Secreta Continere" wide open.' I wish he would! While canon law limits the obligation for offending priests to be handed over to civil authorities for prosecution, the Church is not demonstrating zero tolerance. Prior to about 1922, priests who sexually abused children were reported to the civil police for prosecution by the State. Now such reporting is only required under canon law in those nations where such reporting is obligatory. One of the main disappointments about Pope Francis in this area of concern is his reluctance to really blow "Secreta Continere" away, by amending canon law to again require in all cases that offending priests be reported to civil law authorities for prosecution.
Ian Fraser | 19 February 2019


Pope Francis will, of course, have episcopal representatives of a huge number of different cultures meeting with him at the summit. A couple of years ago I was talking to a Latin American priest working in Australia. He said “women and alcohol” were the major sources of priestly scandal in his country. I asked, “What about sexual abuse of children?” He looked at me as though I was mad and said, “The child’s relatives would kill the priest.” The priest was not from Chile.
Gerard Hore | 19 February 2019


They also have the. Abuse of nuns by clergy. . also news coming out of nuns abusing . girls in their. Care. School etc. Will This pestilence never end.
Irena | 19 February 2019


It seems that the meeting in Rome this week will “focus on the shaping of a Church in which children will be safeguarded and crimes of abuse and cover-up at all levels will be publicised and punished.” Sounds good, but there is little recognition of the need for decision-making that is always accountable, transparent and inclusive, enabled by a culture that reflects the teaching of Jesus. The evidence and findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have exposed the real problem in the Church that facilitated clerical child sexual abuse, namely an organisation with an autocratic system of governance foreign to its founder Jesus, obsessed with its status more than its mission, with a clericalist culture based on the unquestioned authority of exclusively male celibate leaders, who are increasingly elderly and show little respect for the views of an informed and articulate people of God. Christ-like accountability requires a fundamental change in behaviour, not just punishing the miscreants who get caught. I fear that the Rome meeting will just make a lot of noise about procedures and punishment without any acceptance of the need for bishops to be accountable, inclusive and transparent in undertaking their pastoral responsibilities.
Peter Johnstone | 19 February 2019


Congratulations, yet again, to Andrew's most comprehensive overview of the forthcoming Summit on Clerical Sexual Abuse of Children. Will this big black cloud of sadness stifling our Church ever be lifted? I mention the Church first, but really in my heart, I am holding in my heart all the victims of this evil violation of innocent children, men and women. To me, it is vitally important they too, as well as the Church , will be able to hold up their heads, knowing they are innocent and supported. The words of Genesis in this morning's reading spring readily to mind: "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that the thoughts in his heart fashioned nothing but wickedness all day long. The Lord regretted having made man on the earth, and his heart grieved."
Peggy Spencer | 19 February 2019


I find it hard to credit, not to say illogical, how some rigorists within Catholicism can presume to try to discredit a pope when they are theologically rusted onto the Petrine primacy. Or do they imagine that Francis can be dealt with as some Americans still hope to deal with an incompetent president? One feels like turning their shibboleth, often quoted by them against wishy-washy liberals (such as I): "if you don't like the rules, go join another club". Perhaps they might emigrate to the Lefèbvre Archipelago. At any rate, go to it Bergoglio! You have an excruciating job to do, and we are praying for you.
Fred Green | 19 February 2019


From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. And what more can be given to a man who has been chosen to stand in Persona Christi? Via the Sacrament of Holy Priesthood. And I might add, chosen( as was Paul and the apostles) by Christ Himself. I'm all for all members of the clergy wearing sackcloth, for at the very least 7 years (Luke 14: 33). Putting up for auction say at Christies or Sotheby's, all the richly embroidered priestly vestments in all the wardrobes in all the sacristies of all churches around the world. And giving compensation as you have said, Francis Armstrong. Though, it seems to me, those who have been abused, and their families want more. They want Canon Law changed. And instead of just the word: Defrocked, being used. The words: Defrocked, Excommunicated and reported to the police, Immediately, being used. This new part of Canon Law would be made very, very, clear to Seminarians in Catholic Seminaries around the world. So as to really Safe Guard future generations. Simply a must watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21oE6mJUTAY Back in his time, St Francis married Lady Poverty for a reason... He knew. I believe Pope Francis, as all the clergy truly following Christ Jesus, also know.
AO | 19 February 2019


very good article indeed and lets hope that people will see Pope Francis for the kind and sincere person that he really is and not judge him because of the actions of other church officials.
maryellen flynn | 19 February 2019


Andrew , as usual you have outlined the concerns many of us Catholics feel about the Hierarchy getting together to tackle issues which, through ineptitude, inaction or plain "saving face", have plunged the Church into this crisis. I completely agree with Francis, Patricia and Grahame .Sadly, I have little hope that this gathering nor the 2022 show here in Australia is going to change anything. As I have previously commented, until the laity, the Church's foot soldiers, are given a voice, nothing will change!
Gavin O'Brien | 19 February 2019


Fr Andrew, we all seem to have forgotten one thing. The church was instituted by Christ for the people. These days the church has become a rich and powerful institution, a Nation State in Rome, has titles, many lucrative USA businesses, Vatican bank, its schools, orphanages, Universities, Colleges, pre school centres, after care centres. Instead of the church serving the people, the people serve the church. The church has become a multi profit centre for itself. The laity have no say in anything. Heaven forbid that they whinge about anything. Why should the Bishops decide on the outcome of sexual abuse matters when they presided over its pandemic? The hierarchy that issue the decrees, DVDs we are forced to endure at mass, don't have to house and educate their children, struggle with school fees and a mortgage, and then have to listen to condescending tripe about the third rite or whether they are committing a mortal sin by going to communion. No you'd probably find the Bishops are off to the races or the Opera or a chamber recital. Pope Francis should sit down with the abused and their parents and friends. Then he'd know how to address this scourge.
Francis Armstrong | 20 February 2019


There is little doubt in my mind that Pope Francis has been jolted into action to call this Summit. His predecessor, Pope Benedict, was, I think, much more aware about Child Sex Abuse by clergy. I believe the latter spent hours every night laicizing offending clergy their bishops would not act on. The American Catholic Bishops' Conference were, as a whole, absolutely outraged by the McCarrick affair and its coverup. They want every suspected offender to be reported to the police as a first step. America is the richest branch of the Catholic Church and carries enormous influence. The Catholic Church is not a Congregational Church and it does have a hierarchy with the Pope at the top. The way the Pope and hierarchy act need not necessarily be insensitive and authoritarian. I believe this Pope does want to run things on a collegial basis, but he can also act decisively, as with the laicising of McCarrick. Things may, at times, appear unwieldly, but, given some of the people organizing this Summit, we may be surprised what comes out of it. With people like those commenting on this article agitating for change, I don't think the Pope will let the matter rest.
Edward Fido | 20 February 2019


Well said Edward Fido and everyone! If only Church hierarchs paid attention to the balanced judgment of experienced and informed Catholic laity AND the survivors of clerical abuse and cover-ups . . . I'm so despondent to read: "Peter Isley, victim of clergy sexual abuse and a spokesperson for 'End Clergy Abuse' responded to the Pope's 21 reflection points, calling them “. . not very concrete points. I’ll tell you what the roadmap (of the Pope's summit) in here is, it’s a circle,” he told CNA journalists on Feb. 21. Isley was vocal in his opinion that the ideas presented in the Pope's list of reflection points do not go far enough in implementing “zero tolerance” against priests who have abused minors or bishops who have covered it up. “There is nothing there that wasn’t there yesterday,” he stated. SO, after all the PR and press releases by the Pope, cardinals, and archbishops it looks to me like: "So nice meeting you all; now let's get back to business as usual." I hope and pray not; for this would itself be criminal neglect of this God-given opportunity for making the Church and the world more Christ-like.
Dr Marty Rice | 23 February 2019


If God does exist and if the scriptures are indeed a record of that same God's word, teaching and example of how to live life as He would have us live it, we must be close to another episode of destructive fire and brimstone from the heavens - or alternatively a number of dignitaries of His Church might suddenly pale into insignificance as cautionary statues of salt in the tradition of Lot's wife!
john frawley | 24 February 2019


So Mark Coleridge seems to have 'got it' but Francis is still blaming the devil... Th Archbishop is going to need all the help he can get from the laity if he is to make much progress from that position.
Ginger Meggs | 25 February 2019


So does the Pell verdict provide the background to Coleridge’s sermon ?
Ginger Meggs | 26 February 2019


Hi Dr John Frawley: ". . fire and brimstone . . pillars of salt. ." Nice Old Testament imagery! But, rather, maybe like Matthew 24:51. Where King Jesus Christ, in judgement, will ". . cut off the abusive overseers, and send them to the same fate as the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." If, as eminent theological thinker, John Hick says, our world is divinely designed as a 'Vale of Soul-Making' we'd all be wise to further that process by a life of learning to obey Apostolic instructions. Sadly: how many of our priests, hierarchical clergy, curia, and religious have gayly made themselves into anti-models, busily engaged in un-making their souls? Five-hundred years on, we need a new Reformation, not of doctrine and ecclesiology but an internal, whole-hearted return to New Testament right-ethics. Let the world and the flesh and corrupted church members do as they choose, but there will always be a faithful core that follow The Lamb of God.
Dr Marty Rice | 26 February 2019


Hello Dr Marty Rice. I see that I spoke too early. There is now no need to expect the abusers to be threatened by fire and brimstone or turned into pillars of salt. The summit has met and the Pope reckons its the devil who is responsible for all the abuse etc. I sincerely hope they round him up, defrock him and lock him up securely so that he cannot run havoc in the world again. I knew all along that it could not possibly be the Church or its priests and religious who were the naughty ones.
john frawley | 26 February 2019


Thank you Archbishop Coleridge for your powerful homily about 'Truth'. I am praying and hoping Pope Francis will ask you to stand with him, as second or third in charge at the Vatican.
AO | 26 February 2019


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