Voiceless Victim

A survivor of clergy child sexual abuse speaks out for those who can't speak for themselves

Getting it is not an accomplishment. Getting rid of it is. When’s that going to happen?

I am reposting here in full an excellent editorial written by Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) about the disgraceful performance of the Vatican’s paedophile protectors in front of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on January 16, 2014.

Bishop Charles Scicluna at the UN, the face of Vatican compassion for children they knowingly exposed to rapists

Bishop Charles Scicluna at the UN, the face of Vatican compassion for children they knowingly exposed to rapists

EDITORIAL

 “The Holy See gets it,” Msgr. Charles Scicluna, declared before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child at a meeting in Geneva, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Getting it” is not an accomplishment.

Getting rid of it is.

Not only is “getting it” not an accomplishment, it’s not an “ah hah” moment, it’s not even Christianity.

Getting the rape and sodomy of children is basic humanity.

Raping and sodomizing children is criminal.

Luring children into situations where you can rape and sodomize them is criminal.

This is not a complex theological argument.

Getting it is when Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, MO packs a moving van after being removed from his office.

Getting it is extraditing a Polish archbishop to Poland to answer Polish authorities’ questions about being a sexually abusive priest/archbishop — one who is being investigated in the Dominican Republic and Poland. Getting it is not saying you will deal with the matter with your own courts.

Getting it is releasing the documents. They are the place where the truth lives.

Removing Finn, extraditing Weslowski, releasing the truth doesn’t take commissions, papal or otherwise.

They take a Pope.

The Vatican has had one for over 2,000 years. In some years, it’s had more than one.

You can “get” this intellectually or emotionally – your choice – but out of basic humanity the journey is not a long one, the road is not laden with obstacles, the distance from Point A to Point B is short.

Getting this is simple.

Adults under no circumstances should rape or sodomize children. Period.

People who are in authority over those who rape and sodomize children shouldn’t harbor the people who do it, provide the needs of life for them, shuttle them into safe places, or hide them.  If they do, they are complicit in the rape and sodomy of children.

This is doubly, if not triply true if you are a religious institution which claims 1.2 billion members and you have a sign out that says you know the way to the moral life and you are exporting it.

It is inherently true if this religious institution also has a sign out that proclaims the priests of its largest rite as well as the professed men and women religious in the outfit don’t have sex, period – not with anybody, least of all by raping and sodomizing children.

If Catholics and the world at large accept the “we get it” explanation along with the rest of the Vatican representatives’ testimony before the UN Committee as to what is good and right and proper and what needs to be done for justice to be had in this crisis — it’s outrageous.

What the Vatican ”gets” is that the world is catching on to it and it had no other viable defensive option than to appear before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva.

The world is catching on, make no mistake about this, because of the courage and the dedicated hard work of the survivors.

Here we applaud the heavy lifting that is done by SNAP.

And when you are causing the world to “grill” in unprecedented fashion one of its most powerful institutions, that’s some lifting.

The Vatican representatives ducked and dodged and deflected in the testimony before the UN.

We make available for you at the end of this editorial the text of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi,’s address as the Vatican Information Service presented it.

We call your attention to the Vatican’s characterization that Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was at Geneva as part of a periodic reporting event, — not as a player in an historic, unfiltered sit-down-and-answer-questions about your record on the sexual abuse of children for all the world to see and hear.

Routine event as the Vatican Information Service tried to characterize it in its official record? Nothing could be further from the truth. Seems in cover-up, as in war, truth is also the first casualty.

The catalyst for this particular committee “grilling” as news reports told the world, was the failure of the Vatican to provide required annual reports as a signer on the UN Treaty of the Child. The failure existed for 11 years. Some periodic reporting.

We will give the Vatican this: along with Tomasi whom they could have sent alone, — they did send Monsignor Scicluna and to his credit Scicluna went. Scicluna knows where the bodies are buried and it was a high level risk to send him. He worked for Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He knows what’s in those records at the Congregation.

One has to wonder as Scicluna sat there being grilled by civil authorities if he thought that his former boss in the Congregation of Faith, should have been sitting there taking the heat or at least feeling it radiate at the other end of a video conferencing camera within his Vatican castle.

Catholics, we do hope, will not be hoodwinked by this performance and add insult to injury to survivors by being sucked into another re-run of “it’s history.”

Pope Benedict XVI had every opportunity on any day of the week, any moment of the day or night, during nearly the entire papacy of Pope John Paul II  and the entirety of his own papacy to clean house of sexual abusers, to move the backlog of laicization cases still gathering dust in the Congregation, to remove abusive and cover-up bishops, to release Vatican documents, to order bishops and cardinals and congregations to release documents, to order bishops, cardinals and congregations to release names, — to come clean.

He didn’t do it.

That’s a choice, a clear choice, not a failure or a deficiency in “getting it.”

The sitting pope had scandal on his mind, too, as his representatives were on the hot seat in Geneva.

Said Pope Francis, it is reported, in his homily:

“But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know…We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money…. The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity?(emphasis added). Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! ‘But, I wear a medal,’ ‘I carry the Cross ‘ … Yes, just as those who bore the Ark! Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those from whom scandals come … And here the scandal hit: bringing decay (it: decadenza) to the people of God, including (it: fino alla) the weakness and corruption of the priests.”

We added the emphasis to the  phrase “ priests, bishops and laity” because we believe there should be howls of protest from the laity – who never see the light of day in parallel references with priests and bishops when it comes to anything else in the Church but they are lumped into the shame of scandals in equal proportion.

This is insulting.

Yes, there are lay people who have been on parish or school staffs that have abused –they have been prosecuted in vastly higher numbers than priests and bishops who have abused and covered up abuse , no comparison — and after being accused they have not been given hiding places and financial underpinning by the Church — nor had their bail paid by the Church. There are lay chancery officials who have covered up but their known number does not rise to anywhere near equal portion to the known number of priests and bishops who have abused and covered up and who had and have the power to end this crisis but fail to end this crisis. Same holds true on the financial scandal front.

This largest crisis in the Church in the last 500 hundred years has not been caused by  lay people. Good grief.

Getting it is not an accomplishment.

Getting rid of it is.

When’s that going to happen?

Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

TEXT of the Vatican Information Service report:  

Vatican City, 16 January 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S., Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke this morning before the Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). He presented the Holy See’s periodic report on this issue.

ARCHBISHOP TOMASI BEFORE COMMITTEE OF CHILD RIGHTS: HOLY SEE AND ITS INSTITUTIONS ARE COMMITTED TO DEFENCE OF INVIOLABLE DIGNITY OF EACH CHILD

Vatican City, 16 January 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, C.S., Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke this morning before the Committee on the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). He presented the Holy See’s periodic report on this issue.

“The protection of children remains a major concern for contemporary society and for the Holy See,” the prelate said. “… Abusers are found among members of the world’s most respected professions, most regrettably, including members of the clergy and other church personnel. …”

“Confronted with this reality, the Holy See has carefully delineated policies and procedures designed to help eliminate such abuse and to collaborate with respective State authorities to fight against this crime. The Holy See is also committed to listen carefully to victims of abuse and to address the impact such situations have on survivors of abuse and on their families. The vast majority of church personnel and institutions on the local level have provided, and continue to provide, a wide variety of services to children by educating them, and by supporting their families, and by responding to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Egregious crimes of abuse committed against children have rightly been adjudicated and punished by the competent civil authorities in the respective countries.”

“Therefore, the response of the Holy See to the sad phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors has been articulated in different ambits. On the level of the Holy See, as the Sovereign of Vatican City State, the response to sexual abuse has been in accord with its direct responsibility over the territory of Vatican City State. In this regard, special legislation has been enacted to implement international legal obligations, and covers the State, and its tiny population.”

“On the international level, the Holy See has taken concrete action by the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. In 2000, the Holy See acceded to the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, as well as the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The Holy See then promotes and encourages these international instruments.”

“At the same time, the Holy See as the central organ of the Catholic Church has formulated guidelines to facilitate the work of the local Churches to develop effective measures within their jurisdiction and in conformity with canonical legislation.”

“Local Churches, taking into account the domestic law in their respective countries, have developed guidelines and monitored their implementation with the aim of preventing any additional abuse and dealing promptly with it, in accordance with national law whenever it occurs. … The result of the combined action taken by local Churches and by the Holy See presents a framework that, when properly applied, will help eliminate the occurrence of child sexual abuse by clergy and other church personnel.”

The Permanent Observer explained that “the Holy See’s ‘Periodic Report on the CRC’ is divided into four Parts: Part I deals with general considerations, including the nature of the Holy See as a subject of international law. Part II responds to the concluding observations of the Committee to the Holy See’s Initial Report, and, in particular, questions concerning reservations; the Committee’s four principles and the duties and rights of parents, the education of girls, education about health, and education on the CRC. The Holy See also discusses the principles it promotes concerning the rights and duties of the child within the context of the family. Part III presents the international contributions of the Holy See in advancing and promoting basic principles recognized in the CRC on a full range of issues pertaining to children (e.g., the family, adoption, children with disabilities; health and welfare; leisure and culture; and special measures to protect children, including questions pertaining to sexual abuse, drug addiction, children living on the streets and minority groups). Finally, Part IV addresses the implementation of the Convention in Vatican City State.”

“In the end, there is no excuse,” the prelate repeated, “for any form of violence or exploitation of children. Such crimes can never be justified, whether committed in the home, in schools, in community and sports programs, or in religious organizations and structures. This is the long-standing policy of the Holy See. … For this reason, the Holy See, and local Church structures in all parts of the world, are committed to holding inviolable the dignity and entire person of every child—body, mind, and spirit.”

“Pope Benedict XVI,” the prelate concluded, “speaking to the Bishops of Ireland in 2006 had these important words to say: ‘In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric.’ … Likewise, Pope Francis clearly … undertook new action and has announced the creation of a Commission for the Protection of Minors, with the aim of proposing new initiatives for the development of safe environment programs for children and improving efforts for the pastoral care for victims of abuse around the world.”

Stay safe everyone.

VV

Who is Looking After the Children? Certainly Not the Catholic Church.

Crack paedophile protection team on the job

Crack paedophile protection team on the job

When a normal human being looks at a child they see a fellow human being. A human being who is tiny, innocent, vulnerable, loveable and full of potential. One who deserves our utmost efforts to protect them from harm.

When a narcissist looks at a child they see an object who is easier than most to manipulate into giving them whatever they want. The child is nothing to them but a tool to use to obtain their desired objective.

When a sociopath looks at a child they see an easy mark, one they can dominate much easier than most adults, and one they can train to bend to their will. The child is nothing to them but a target they can derive pleasure or power from, through subjugating and harming the child.

Those who rape children are usually narcissists, sociopaths, or both.

They look at a child and see an object for sexual release, or someone they can enjoy harming through forcing them to submit to abhorrent sexual acts against their will.

Those who sexually abuse children do so because:

  1. They believe they are entitled to sexually prey upon the vulnerable, and that any child who cannot defend themselves or is not protected by the adults around them is fair game
  2. They believe they can get away with it

Religious institutions both produce and attract so many child rapists because of the existence of four crucial conditions conducive to the sexual exploitation of children. These are highly exaggerated entitlement, imbalance of power, sexual dysfunction and lack of accountability.

The catholic church in particular has a problem with its priests raping children in large numbers, in every country where it has a presence. Though catholic officials, dissociated from both reality and humanity, see the problem as one of the victims selfishly and unfairly reporting the crimes committed against them.

Catholic religious, and priests in particular, are trained to believe they are special, above lay persons or normal human beings, and are entitled to special treatment. Many readily accept the proposition that they are more holy, purely by virtue of their position, and therefore far more deserving than ordinary mortals.

As their entitlement grows, so the relative entitlement of lay persons is diminished, particularly low status lay persons such as women, children, the disadvantaged and the disabled.

In dysfunctional individuals this robs any such people they come across of even the core right to refuse an entitled cleric sexual access to their bodies.

This distorted entitlement is dangerous enough by itself. When matched with the ultimate unquestionable, godlike authority demanded for catholic priests by the catholic hierarchy, it becomes doubly dangerous.

But even a highly entitled individual in a position of overwhelming power over children does not automatically desire to rape them. Normal, healthy human sexual development generally results in adults looking for consensual sexual relations with other adults. But no catholic priest is offered the opportunity for normal healthy human sexual development, unless they come to the priesthood as an already normal adult.

Most of the rapist priests causing recent or current problems were not given a choice in the decision to become a priest, whether by compulsion or extraordinary family pressure. Many were locked away in a dysfunctional, often abusive seminary system, some as as young as 11 or 12, well before they were capable of making a lifetime decision about the priesthood and its requirement for celibacy. Most were deliberately denied the support of their families throughout their formative years to ensure their dependence on the church alone.

They were shut away from female company, and as the Royal Commission hearings revealed in December, the entire teachings on sexuality amounted in many cases to “Don’t”.

Many were brutalised, bullied, manipulated and abused, including sexually. Some seminaries operated in such a way that new recruits were simply pounced upon by sexual predators the minute the door shut behind them.

Is it any wonder then that research reveals the majority of priests are psychosexually immature, and a large proportion are sexually dysfunctional?

But even this does not make them child rapists.

Even if these entitled, powerful, sexually dysfunctional individuals existed in an otherwise just or humane environment, child rape would not flourish to reach the epidemic proportions seen in the catholic church.

Unfortunately the catholic church supports and protects the rapists and punishes and undermines their victims. This happens on such a scale that the rapists know without a doubt that the church will ensure they not only get away with their crimes, but are also helped to continue them.

In fact many come to believe they are not just entitled to rape whomever they please, but also entitled to escape responsibility for their crimes.

The catholic church, like the rapists themselves, views children with the eyes of a narcissist.

Children are not considered precious or valuable by the catholic church. They are not vulnerable or deserving of protection. To the callous hierarchs they are either unimportant, beneath notice, sexual prey or collateral damage.

Of course church officials know they need to make occasional deceptive statements about loving and valuing children, if they are not to lose most of their flock. But if children were truly valued in any way, the way human beings value children, the church would surely have acted to protect these innocents from the very real and very well known and understood danger of being raped by entitled clerics.

Much more precious to the narcissist church is la bella figura or pleasing façade. This façade is crucial to the hierarchy’s continued ability to operate profitable tax free commercial enterprises, receive generous government funding, and dictate government policy around the world.

For centuries the catholic hierarchy have been able to behave like criminals and be honoured as saints. This is achieved by maintaining a fanatical obsession with supporting the lie that the church does good works and all priests and religious are holy.

Properly protecting children from rape by priests necessarily involves admitting that priests rape children. Admitting that priests rape children is a far worse outcome in the opinion of the catholic hierarchy than even hundreds of thousands of children being raped.

But why?

Because the catholic system of brainwashing from childhood, controlling throughout their lifetime, and profiting from the billions of lay catholics could not continue without the widely held belief in the holiness and superiority of the poorly paid, often severely dysfunctional priests who shore up the hierarchy’s lives of power and luxury.

This fantasy of specialness, otherworldliness, sacrifice and nobility is supported by the fallacy of clerical celibacy.

Universal mandatory celibacy is unique to the catholic church. It plays an important role in the incidence of child rape in this institution, though it is not a “cause” of child rape.

The cause of child rape is the belief that it is acceptable to rape children, a positive assessment of the relative risk of such behavior, and the decision to act accordingly.

Celibacy in the catholic church is not widely observed. Experts estimate as many as 50% of clerics are not celibate at any time. The number who have never broken their vow of celibacy must indeed be small.

Whether or not a priest is celibate is, frankly, a private matter. But the catholic church has chosen to deceitfully promote their clerics as non sexual, and therefore not just holy but unquestionably safe around children.

Because of this public appearance of celibacy, any sexual liaison by a priest is, at least within the catholic church, illicit, and must remain hidden from general view.

A secret homosexual affair is normal and hardly frowned upon, especially if kept in house, for example with another priest.

Preying upon barely adult vulnerable girls who can be manipulated to blame themselves for the liaison, and can be controlled and exploited for sex without scandal, often for decades, is also common. It is also rape, by the way.

Child rape is common amongst the more disturbed and sexually predatory because children are unlikely to speak out for decades, and even if they do, are unlikely to be believed. Children, because of their size and development, can be easier to dominate and control than fully grown adults, who may be able to resist physically or have an adult understanding of their rights. Children are also easier to frighten into silence and to convince to blame themselves for the priests’ crimes.

Not only are the child rapists more dysfunctional than those raping adults of either sex, they also tend to be more prolific. Adult-oriented predators may be satisfied with a single sexual partner for decades and may amass at most a handful of victims over a lifetime of abuse.

Child rapists by comparison tend much more to have multiple concurrent victims, such as my abuser. The worst cases can get their hands on thousands of primary victims, and destroy many entire communities. Some child rapists are not obsessed with a particular type of victim but rather the power over another. These predators will rape boys, girls and occasionally adults of either sex as well, depending upon opportunity.

Imagine the number of opportunities for being caught, either in the act or at least acting inappropriately, such as having a child overnight in their bedroom, that prolific predators present. How many lay catholics or other religious see things that should result in action to save a child from such a terrible fate, but do nothing?

How many bishops receive reports of such activities or complaints from victims or their families and do absolutely nothing?

The sexual predators see this, and they learn very quickly, that in the catholic church, almost no-one puts the safety of an unimportant child, or even thousands of children, above the reputation of a priest and the church itself. Certainly no-one in a position of power. Anyone in a position of power who tried to protect children rather than the church would not be in power for long.

And so child rape is considered by many priests a soft and relatively low risk option for their illicit sex. The church hierarchy’s lack of an effective response to these crimes solidifies the view that is it acceptable to rape children as long as scandal is avoided.

Interestingly, it is not the rape of thousands of innocent children that will bring to life the catholic church’s considerable ability to control and punish its priests, but something few outside the church would see as harmful.

Normal consensual relations with an adult woman is perhaps the most illicit sex of all for catholic priests. The most frowned upon by the catholic hierarchy.

Marry a woman you love and who loves you, and you will be thrown out of the church immediately in disgrace.

Rape thousands of children, ruin countless lives, including family members of the victims, and cause scores of suicide deaths, and you’ll probably be promoted and honoured as especially holy in life and in death.

You will certainly be forgiven, offered every possible assistance, and protected from publicity and law enforcement throughout your life.

This misuse of the concept of forgiveness by the catholic church is also crucial in exposing more children to rape by priests.

The catholic church, because of the strong desire to coverup these crimes to maintain la bella figura, defines them as mistakes, missteps, slips and unfortunate occurrences.

It readily forgives the rapist and tries to rob the victims of their right to decide whether to forgive, or even to complain. It bullies the families of victims to stay silent, pressuring them that it is unchristian to deny forgiveness, regardless of the fact the criminal has neither admitted his past offences or even stopped offending.

In recent years many documents have come to light revealing a long history of predilection for this appalling crime, detailed knowledge of its seriousness, and edicts outlawing it and recommending the most stringent possible punishments. Such efforts have either been temporary, ineffective or insincere as the problem has continued throughout church history.

Today’s church has turned its back on such attempts and chosen to allow, even positively enable, the rape of children.

More recent documents show an obsession with enforcing secrecy about these crimes, a declaration that something as inoffensive, some would say positive, as the ordination of women should be considered a crime of equal seriousness with child rape, plus official instructions to bishops not to co-operate with local law enforcement in these matters, and to punish victims for speaking out far more stringently than the offender is punished for raping children.

Faced finally with some of the truth of these crimes reaching the public, and no longer able to get away with the traditional approach of point blank denial, the church hierarchy now engage in a PR war to further harm victims and ensure child protection remains inadequate or non existent.

These particularly callous efforts meld insincere apologies, avoidance of responsibility, deflection of blame, focus on the church and its officials as victims not perpetrators, with vague promises that never result in any meaningful change, action or increase in child protection.

When under particular media pressure, church hierarchs will announce the formation of a review body, committee, council, or resource group, or commission research or issue guidelines.

Experience has shown these efforts are cynical, meaningless and possibly dangerous. Mendacious claims include: “we know much better now”; “things have changed”; “we are doing everything possible now”; “the church is the safest place for children”;  “we followed the advice of lawyers/psychologists”; or “we were no worse than society in general”.

Independent inquiries such as in Ireland and Philadelphia have revealed in detail that such claims are baseless, and not just the law but even their own woefully inadequate guidelines are today still not followed.

Many independent experts have resigned in disgust over bishops’ efforts to exert dictatorial control over and effectively hobble the operation of supposedly independent review bodies or research organisations, including members of the National and local Review Boards set up by the US Bishops’ Conference, and the German equivalent of the widely criticized John Jay Study.

German Bishops commissioned “independent research” yet expected to be able to manipulate the research and rewrite the report so that the results reflected their propaganda objectives, rather than the outcome of data analysis. The researchers resigned the commission last year, after first ensuring all other German researchers were aware of the deceitful tactics of the bishops and would not be similarly misled.

German Bishops pumped out industrial quantities of misinformation, refused to accept responsibility for their own actions, and falsely blamed others: the usual strategy when in danger of being seen for what they truly are.

The hierarchy of the catholic church demands respect for religious practices, tax breaks and unquestioned authority and trust when it suits them. But they also claim diplomatic immunity and other benefits as a nation state, even in instances when they are functioning as the headquarters of the criminal catholic church.

The Vatican is rapidly filling with fugitives from local law enforcement eager to benefit from claimed diplomatic immunity or the lack of extradition treaties with the country or countries where their crimes were committed. Many of these fugitives are under investigation for or already proven guilty of child rape or enabling and covering up child rape.

Yet the Vatican arrogantly informs the UN that as there are few children within its tiny borders (apart of course from child prostitutes temporarily shipped in to service the various lusts of these self declared celibates), therefore there are few child protection issues for the Vatican to address.

Thankfully, at the review of the Holy See’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 16 January in Geneva, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, whose purpose is to stand up for children’s rights everywhere, gave zero credence to Vatican attempts to yet again avoid responsibility for its steadfast refusal to protect the countless children deliberately and knowingly exposed to its rapists throughout the world.

The fact that this is a consistent worldwide problem is a result of the consistent worldwide practice of this church, as dictated from the Vatican.

As first world countries become more aware of the problem, instead of shuffling child rapists between parishes or states, the trend is now more frequently to shuffle the criminals between countries, and especially to developing nations, where victims are less likely to be heard or believed.

In every possible way, the culture, structure and operation of the catholic church supports and enables the widespread and systemic rape of children.

Based on which actions by priests and bishops they support and promote, and which they punish and discourage, the conclusion is inevitable that the catholic church hierarchy, based in Vatican city or as they prefer to be known when pretending to be a nation state member of the UN, The Holy See, have no desire or intention to put child protection first. They did not in the past, they do not now and there is no sign of any genuine intention to do so in the future.

Thankfully the UN have put the Vatican on notice that they must make real changes, not just perform another PR display of the appearance of change.

Or risk losing the protection of la bella figura.

Without la bella figura, the whole extremely profitable edifice will come crashing down.

Perhaps the Church of Child Rape and the Paedophile Protector-in-Chief will finally take this issue seriously.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

Does Papal Pretender Deserve Person of the Year? No Way Jorge

The announcement that Time Magazine had declared Pope Frank, the Paedophile-Protector-in-Chief, their Person of the Year for 2013 left all of us who are not either brain dead, brainwashed or irretrievably corrupt completely speechless.

Pope frank on time

Surely this would be the joke of the new century, if it were not so terribly tragic.

The subsequent announcement that this old man in an old fashioned, baggy white dress and retinue of silly hats and caps, has been declared Esquire Magazine’s Best Dressed Man of the Year is simply ridiculous beyond belief.

Even more bizarre is that The Advocate, a gay magazine, declared the leader of this vehemently anti-gay, though largely homosexual, religion as their Person of the Year, too. Despite recent carefully crafted murmurings of a softening of the traditional hate filled hard line against gays, there is simply no way Francis of the Facade is any friend to openly gay men, or their interests.

The vatican’s new, and no doubt highly paid, PR supremo, Greg Burke, a member of the catholic cult Opus Dei, and a former Fox News staffer, is clearly no stranger to the tricks used to spread ultra conservative, orthodox religious spin. The information that the cunning Mr Burke is also a former Time employee makes a little more sense of Time’s puzzlingly inappropriate award.

It is easier to accept that a sleazy Vatican employee pulled in all his favours from his very good friends and former colleagues at Time than that otherwise seemingly intelligent editors came to this decision without inducements or prompting. Of course the publishers at Time, and the other magazines, no doubt enjoy the controversy and spike in readership that such a stupid choice generates. And it seems they really don’t care about any loss of credibility amongst those still in possession of a brain. Or perhaps they’ll have moved on to a new job before any fallout is felt.

This pope has done absolutely nothing to eradicate the epidemic of child rape destroying the lives and threatening the very existence of hundreds of thousands of the most innocent and vulnerable in this world. This man, Jorge from Buenos Ares, who claims infallibility and holiness, and demands slavish adoration and unquestioning respect in the face of a crime wave that puts the mafia, his collaborators, to shame, has done nothing, has achieved nothing, that justifies in any way a fraction of the media attention thrown away on him.

Far less an honour stolen from the truly deserving but less grasping.

Why do the mindless adore Francis the Fake?

Well, it’s certainly not for his good looks.

pope frank cartoon 3

Benny the Rat could not help but look as evil as his actions, even after a makeover. Foolish Frankie looks dorky, he smiles, and tries very hard to come across as benign, even human.

Sure, the puppet master Burke has regularly staged deliberately heart tugging photo opportunities as part of the media profile makeover to soften the image of this head of the world’s wealthiest criminal organisation. But why can so few people understand how cynical this carefully constructed facade, designed to please, distract and mislead, really is?

Cringe worthy stuff from the paedophile protector in chief

Cringe worthy stuff from the paedophile protector in chief

The fact that an immensely rich and supremely powerful world leader, who could do so much good at the stroke of a pen, but chooses not to act, is not as bad an habitual criminal as his predecessor, is not any reason to declare him person of the year.

This latest papal pretender is more of a clean skin than the master of clergy child rape enabling and coverup, Ex-Benedict the former Holiness, who these days makes good use of the specious claims of Vatican city to be a nation state, hiding out for the rest of his life from law enforcement.

But now that the latest heartless narcissist, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has swapped pink for white and is firmly ensconced in the ostentatious arms of Vatican gold, at least away from the cameras, he cannot help but be just as culpable as all his fellow popes. Unless he does something to change the centuries of tradition whereby unimportant children of lay catholics are thrown under the wheels of the solid gold gravy train driven by Vatican Inc.

Has anyone seen any evidence of Francis implementing actual change, not just more weasel words?

pope x 2

Has the warm, caring fantasy of humility and change meant F1 has finally revealed the full details of these crimes, or thrown open the carefully hidden secret files, ordered cardinals to stop obstructing justice and assist local law enforcement, removed known dangerous sexual predators from their hiding places in the bosom of mother church, or introduced real child protection measures, not just the appearance of change.

Anyone deserving the title of human being, let alone person of the year, would do at least that.

Not So Very Frank Francis can’t quite manage what most of us would do without hesitation, and in a heartbeat, but he has announced another fake body to look into this issue. A committee paid for and controlled by the catholic church, despite any nonsensical claims to “independence”.

If such a committee were to actually be independent, it should be made up of and seek input from survivors, whistleblowers, uncorrupted law enforcement and law makers, and those who have worked to rebuild lives destroyed by centuries of papal inaction. The funding of an independent committee would be completely independent of church hierarchy. And any results would never be filtered through church officials, or only released once rewritten to their satisfaction. There is zero possibility of Faker Frank’s Fake Committee looking anything like that.

Genuine investigations have been conducted and are being conducted throughout the world by properly qualified, suitably empowered and truly independent investigators.

There is no additional need for the criminals to investigate themselves. The very notion itself is preposterous. There is no societal need for the Vatican to swamp the media with their lies. This deluge has been going on for centuries, and it is these very lies that have allowed the crimes to continue, and have prevented the operation of justice.

There is no need to hear the Vatican’s excuses and misdirections on this subject once again, even after supposedly “expert” contributions. Because the only “experts” the Vatican consults, or listens to, are those who say what they have been instructed or paid to say.

There is no knowledge gap in this area that requires addressing by those committing the crimes. Plenty of people and institutions have first hand experience and decades of understanding of what is really going on, what the cause is, and how to prevent it continuing. These are people who live in the real world and have no trouble facing difficult concepts such as truth, reality and the crimes committed by catholic clerics.

The only stumbling block is the fanatical secrecy of the catholic church, and the criminality of their actions in protecting and enabling child rapists to escape law enforcement and continue to rape children.

The catholic hierarchy misuses respect for religion and the religious belief of millions of catholics as a justification to get away with pretending not to be criminals, while continuing to commit their crimes. 

And the cowardice of many politicians and law enforcement officials, manipulated, threatened or corrupted by catholic church officials to neglect their duty to enact and enforce laws that protect children rather than dangerous but powerful predators, means that, as required, catholic criminals are treated as above the law, and so continue to flout it.

Any Vatican conceived and controlled facade of an investigation is hardly going to address that aspect, let alone resolve it.

The apologists pumping out the catholic hierarchy’s propaganda would have us ignore this crucially important issue and instead bathe in the reflected glow of Friendly Frankie. Yet what could be more important than the safety of our children?

Only childless, self absorbed, sexually dysfunctional yet sex obsessed, developmentally delayed little boys in the bodies of grown men, who are spiritually dead yet pretend to talk with their invisible friend while playing dress ups and participating in canabalistic rituals, could fail to understand that so completely.

What do vatican PR spin masters under the instructions of Burke want to distract us with? What do they promote as more important than saving children from being raped repeatedly by dangerous men claiming the authority of god?

The media circus that is the cult of Francis the Humble.

How things have changed

How things have changed

pope frank bells and smells 2

Or the winner of my award for Con Job of the Year.

The man once took a bus, when he could have taken a limo.

No limos here

No limos here

Give the man a Nobel peace prize.

The man makes it known he is staying in a hostel, when he has a free room in a gold encrusted palace.

Really? He actually sleeps there? He doesn’t sneak back through the secret passages at night and luxuriate in silk sheets and solid gold toilet?

Wouldn’t a truly humble man do other things in a similar vein?

Wouldn’t a truly humble man in the midst of such greed make significant changes?

Wouldn’t a truly humble man do these things because they were the right thing to do, and not perform them for the cameras and announce them in media releases?

And even if Frankie the Fixer did actually do what is claimed for him, why does he not donate any savings to the poor, or to victims of his vicious policies?

If some good came of his choices, other than truly spectacular PR victories, then it might in some way, any way, be meaningful.

Oh, the symbolism

Oh, the symbolism

But he does not and it is not.

This obscenely wealthy pope, who hoards countless billions in cash and property, and could fill a dozen world class museums with his priceless art treasures, makes a few token gestures, makes a few vague comments, and continues with evil policies, while refusing to act to prevent so much suffering in the world, much of which is easily in his power to prevent.

Those who seek, or even accept without seeking, great power of any kind, have great responsibility to use that power wisely and for the greater good. Popes have almost unlimited power of every kind, and could single handedly make this world a safe place for children. Could institute effective programs to offer every child shelter, an education, health care and enough food to eat.

But they see only that any sharing of their wealth, any use of their power, except to shore up their own power and add to their own possessions, means less wealth and less power for themselves. These empty, soulless men grasp desperately to posses everything, but can never fill the gaping hole in themselves. Because they are filling it with the wrong thing. They stridently claim spiritual superiority, but are spiritually bereft and the ultimate materialists. Nothing, not even the enslavement of the whole world to their bidding, and the pouring of the whole wold’s resources into their coffers will ever satisfy them.

No amount of deceit, no amount of crime, no amount of corruption or destruction of the innocent is repugnant or wrong to them, if it is in the pursuit of their own wealth and power.

And so the deceit of Francis The Great Pretender should be seen as business as usual.

Yet it stings.

How can so many be fooled by this paper thin nonsense?

The tiniest application of logic or thought to this tomfoolery makes the whole rotten edifice crumble before your eyes.

pope frank smirk

Yet one picture of a goofy looking, smirking hypocrite makes people feel safe and that everything will be okay after all. That these self described good, holy men could not really be pretending, could not really be evil monsters preying on us and our children in every possible way.

Well they are.

pope frank not impressed

And it is time to grow up.

It is time to investigate the comforting lies and find the real truth.

And if that truth is even worse than expected, and it is, it is time to face it.

Because there is only one thing worse than facing such a horrible truth.

And that is by ignoring the problem, allowing it to continue.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

How Much Justice Will Survivors See in this New Year?

Welcome to a new year.

The Christmas/New Year period is tough, not festive, for so many survivors. Difficulty in maintaining relationships with family, friends and colleagues is one of the lifelong impacts of childhood sexual assaults. A time of year emphasising the love and support offered by those important relationships only makes us feel more abandoned, isolated, and worthless than ever.

The trauma that caused smiling, confident, normal children to become loners and misfits unable to trust anyone was, and still is, exacerbated unnecessarily by callous, self serving institutions who sacrifice the most innocent and most vulnerable again and again in their attempts to coverup the criminality and abuse of power at the core of this problem. And so the ongoing pain we suffer is increased as a direct result of the policy of denial, of the deceitful PR pretending everything is okay, and that things have changed, and of the criminal coverup of the original crimes.

The very same institutions who knowingly exposed us to danger and brutally denied us the help we need insist on drowning out all other voices at this time of year so they can force their self serving fantasies down our throats and look down their noses at us for not fitting the unrealistic stereotypes they fanatically promote.

How do we make 2014 better than 2013?

How do we move away from the unresolved trauma that has stolen so much from us and keeps us prisoners, serving out our life sentence?

How do we relax and let go of the stress inflicted on our tiny bodies by such devastating and incomprehensible attacks?

How do we learn that not everyone in this world is a terrifying child sexual predator in priests’ clothing, or a despicable self serving enabler who knows children are being harmed but doesn’t do anything to stop it? Or a self described “good priest” or “good catholic” or “good christian” who turns their back and, by not speaking up, by not expressing disapproval of officials’ decisions, gives support for the crimes and the coverup to continue? Or a coward who caves under pressure from the powerful and the vicious and lets children suffer so that they will not be personally disadvantaged?

Here in Australia we have been given a rare opportunity to turn around our lives. To truly become survivors, or even thrivers, and leave victimhood behind.

Because in Australia we have been given a comprehensive, nationwide investigation into how this country, through its most highly respected institutions, has doubly betrayed our children. First by allowing the routine sexual exploitation of children to flourish unchecked, and then by refusing those harmed by such crimes access to justice and healing.

Not only are we the historic beneficiaries of such a momentous instrument for change, but we have also been given the gift of Justice Peter McClellan as Chair of the Royal Commission, and Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness, SC.  These two have demonstrated in public hearings to date considerable ability and determination not to betray Australia’s children again.

Justice Jennifer Coates has also shown exceptional empathy in private sessions, and ability to help survivors feel truly believed and understood for the very first time in our lives.

Thanks to this Royal Commission, for me, finally, the healing has begun.

It wasn’t the announcement of the Royal Commission by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 12 November 2012 that did it.

It wasn’t meeting Julia herself at Kirribilli House in January 2013, and learning that she genuinely believed in and supported Australian survivors and our push for justice.

It wasn’t the early working of the Royal Commission, when I and many other survivors attended private sessions to tell of our experiences.

It wasn’t even the first public hearings, when we first saw important, hard questions asked of those who let children down. Questions to which there was no appropriate answer forthcoming.

For me, as a victim of the catholic church, and I do mean that the catholic church as a whole deliberately victimised me for decades, my healing began with the first Towards Healing public hearings in late December 2013. This was when catholic church officials were first truly held accountable, in exacting detail, for their appalling treatment of children, and their complete and deliberate dereliction of their duty of care to us.

When I saw Justice Peter McClellan and Gail Furness SC work tirelessly to uncover the truth about the catholic church’s criminal conspiracy to coverup child sex crimes, and then not turn their backs on us, not shrug their shoulders and pretend it was nothing really, or that nothing could be done, that is when everything changed for me.

Suddenly my struggle to recover, to self care, to sleep, or even just to live became easier. Instead of being trapped in an endless battle I could never win, I was now engaged in a lifelong process to claw back some of what had been stolen from me. I would still never be the person the innocent child with limitless potential I once was could have become. But now instead of one of the walking dead, I can rejoin the living and work to be the best person I can under the circumstances.

It didn’t take some mythical knight on a white charger to sweep in to rescue us. It just took people of honour, integrity and perception to not fold under the catholic church’s bribes, threats and excuses, and to stand up for what is right, rather than what is expedient.

Our suffering did not evaporate in a puff of smoke with the wave of a magic wand. We fought the lies and the corruption, we stood up to the vile criminals in positions of power covering up for other criminals. We could not be silenced, and now, finally, we are being heard.

And we should never, ever forget those of us who did not make it this far. Who did not live to see this first glimmer of precious, rare justice.

In 2014 I wish the same support and the same hope for all survivors of child abuse, all survivors of abuse of power and injustice. That we all find a way to make our voices heard, and to change the outcomes for ourselves and for those who come after us.

This blog is read in 96 countries around the world, covering all continents. Even in the spurious nation state called Vatican city.

In every country there are victims who deserve to be heard, who deserve justice and healing. In every country abuse is continuing right now because governments don’t value children or prioritise child protection.

I hope in 2014 many other countries will learn from our experience in Australia and be inspired by Julia Gillard’s example. I hope more world leaders will earn their people’s respect by standing up to the political manipulations of religious officials, and announcing a real inquiry into child sex crimes by those using religion to protect paedophiles.

I hope that countries around the world will remove bias in their legal systems that protect child rapists and punish their victims.

I hope in 2014 the UN will take real action against the catholic church (or the spurious nation state called Vatican city or the (un)Holy See) for its appalling record of enabling widespread and systemic child sexual exploitation by its representatives in countries throughout the world.

I hope by this time next year we will all feel a little more hopeful, a little more valued, a little more connected to each other and to the rest of society. A little more sure that we are survivors, not voiceless victims.

Stay safe everyone, and have a healing 2014.

VV

Catholic church opens Commission hearing with a slap in the face for survivors

Last week survivors, many of whom had travelled long distances, crowded into the hearing room for the historic first Royal Commission hearing into how the Catholic Church handles child sexual abuse. Many lasted only until the well paid Church lawyer first opened his mouth. What emerged was so offensive, so deliberately designed to undermine and to harm survivors, that it prompted a mass walkout and a flood of tears in the foyer.

I absolutely agreed with their actions and was equally as offended, but decided to stay to hear what other tricks the trained monkey would pull.

Below is a transcript of that low point of the legal profession in Australia. I have added my translation of each section, for those who do not have the benefit of a lifetime of suffering at the hands of callous and deceitful church officials. The lawyer who uttered these carefully crafted passages was Peter Gray SC.

-o0o-

This is a searing and decisive moment in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Well, we certainly never thought this day would happen, especially after all our efforts to prevent it.

The sacred place of children, their innocence and their trustfulness is central to the Christian tradition and to the Catholic faith.

The punters love this fantasy stuff about innocence and trust. It keeps the focus on what they like about religion, and not on our behaviour.

Many will remember from their own childhoods the ageless words from the Gospel of Mark:

First let me throw in the obligatory quote from the bible – takes the high moral ground immediately and undermines both victims themselves, and the tendency to support them.

Let the little children come to me; do not

stop them; for it is to such of these that

the kingdom of God belongs.

Isn’t that clever of us, taking the very quote seen so often on signs outside this and other hearings and using it against those pesky victims. Though of course we prefer a different translation, to avoid that unfortunate word, “suffer”.

And again from Mark, driving home the point:

Whoever causes one of these little ones who

believe in me to stumble, it would be

better for him if a great millstone were

hung around his neck, and he were cast into

the sea.

Now, if the first verse hasn’t slapped victims hard enough, here’s the second to really undermine them. Plus the millstone bit makes us look like we take this issue seriously.

The Catholic Church comes before this Royal Commission acutely aware of its failures in this fundamental part of its mission.

I guess denial is really no longer an option, is it?

For many Catholics, the realisation that some Catholic priests and religious, of all people, have betrayed the trust of children and their parents by abusing them in sexual ways has been almost unbearable.

Let’s get Catholics thinking about their own suffering and not that of victims.

 The further bleak realisation that such behaviour was sometimes covered up, with wrongdoers protected while victims were disbelieved or treated coldly, has made an already disgraceful situation even worse.

Oh yeah, these days we have to refer to this aspect as well, but we can get away with going pretty soft, because understanding of our cover-up is still limited.

For the vast majority of priests and religious, dedicated and selfless and innocent themselves and truly faithful to their vows and their vocations, the revelations of recent decades have been heartbreaking.

Pow. Two of our most effective excuses. “Good” priests, and non abuser priests as victims. We’re going hard on this because it is so effective at distracting from what happened to victims. And we get it in first to leave many minds less inclined to listen to rubbish about victims.

But for the victims and their families, the effects have obviously been, and continue to be, shattering and devastating. Terrible wrongs have been done to them.  Complex, ongoing damage has been caused, the real extent of which may not, even now, be fully appreciated.

We don’t usually go here because it creates sympathy for victims, not us. But if we want to pull off the “we have changed” con, it is unfortunately necessary to sound a bit better informed than previously on the effects of abuse.

 A great poet and priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, found words which capture something of this nightmare:

No worst, there is none …

Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

We position Hopkins as an authority, then use his quote to soften the facts of our criminal coverup, while demonstrating that we get this i.e. no further action needed.

I will say something in a moment about the way in which the church intends to participate in and contribute to the work of the Royal Commission.  But first, let me repeat the unequivocal commitment made by the leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia.  It is on page 1 of our written submission to the Commission.  It is in the following terms:

The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia recognise and acknowledge the devastating harm caused to people by the crime of child sexual abuse.

Much as it hurts, we are going to have to state the bleeding obvious, which we have studiously managed to avoid doing until now.

We take this opportunity to state:

1.         Sexual abuse of a child by a priest or religious is a crime under Australian law and under canon law.

2.         Sexual abuse of a child by any church personnel, whenever it occurred, was then and is now indefensible.

3.          That such abuse has occurred at all, and the extent to which it has occurred, are facts of which the whole church in Australia is deeply ashamed.

4.         The church fully and unreservedly acknowledges the devastating, deep and ongoing impact of sexual abuse on the lives of the victims and their families.

5.         The church acknowledges that many victims were not believed when they should have been.

6.         The church is also ashamed to acknowledge that, in some cases, those in positions of authority concealed or covered up what they knew of the facts, moved perpetrators to another place, thereby enabling them to offend again, or failed to report matters to the police when they should have.  That behaviour, too, is indefensible.

7.         Too often in the past, it is clear, some church leaders gave too high a priority to protecting the reputation of the church, its priests, religious and other personnel, over the protection of children and their families, and over compassion and concern for those who suffered at the hands of church personnel. That, too, was and is inexcusable.

8.         In such ways, church leaders betrayed the trust of their own people and the expectations of the wider community.

The words stick in our throats, unused as we are to honesty on this topic, but that just shows how damaging and irresponsible those blasted victims really are, selfishly promoting their own interests, no matter the damage it causes the church.

 9.         For all these things the church is deeply sorry.  It apologises to all those who have been harmed and betrayed.  It humbly asks for forgiveness.

We’ve said sorry about this so many times. Once more through gritted teeth changes nothing. They can force us to say it but they can’t force us to mean it.

The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia commit ourselves to endeavour to repair the wrongs of the past, to listen to and hear victims, to put their needs first, and to do everything we can to ensure a safer future for children.

We commit ourselves to nothing specific, just a lot of PR friendly concepts, all heavily qualified. Naturally, there is no means for anyone to measure success or even track if we actually do anything. The imbeciles fall for this one every time.

When this Royal Commission was announced, the leaders of the church – that is, the bishops and religious leaders from all around Australia – appreciated that this Commission would be, as it is, a watershed in church history and, indeed, in Australian history.  They realised that the issue of abuse within the church is so fundamental and so serious that at least three things needed to happen.

We knew this damn commission would be bad. That’s why we undermined all efforts to hold one for so many years.

First, the church must, wherever possible, speak with one voice at the Commission.

We need to tightly control the message. Individuals could say anything, even, God forbid, the truth.

Second, any of the old ways that still remained, shrouded in secrecy, defensiveness or damage control, must be renounced.

Yeah, the Vatican’s really going to let us break with the long tradition of coverup. I should be a stand up commedian.

Third, the church should seize the opportunity provided by the momentous circuit-breaker of the Royal Commission to renew itself, to look closely at the ways in which it has responded to the issue both in the past and up to the present time, and to do so with humility and openness and generosity of spirit.

If we really have to do this, we are going to bury some smelly old skeletons, and bury them deeeep. They’ll never come back to haunt us.

As to the second and third of these, time will tell, and the community will ultimately be the judge.

As time passes, everyone will forget about any commitments we make now.

As to the first, let me say something about the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.  The council was established in February this year by the peak body of bishops, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, known as the ACBC, and the peak body of religious, Catholic Religious Australia, known as CRA.  It is the council which will represent and speak for the many dioceses and religious institutes which have authorised it to do so.

The Catholic Church in Australia is not a single discrete entity or thing.  It is made up of people in complex and disparate groupings, the millions of lay people, as well as the priests and bishops and religious. There are some 34 dioceses and over 180 different religious orders and congregations.

Each individual diocese and each individual religious institute is basically autonomous and independent of every other.  For example, no archbishop or bishop has any authority or control over any other bishop.

Not surprisingly, to achieve a consensus amongst so many different and independent people and bodies and groupings has, in the past, often been difficult, but on this issue, that of the tragedy of child sexual abuse, differences of view have been put aside.

Good luck with finding anyone ultimately responsible, or tracing the chain of command. We have centuries of practice in dodging responsibility, amateurs.

The first major demonstration of that approach was the development of a uniform national protocol for responding to complaints of this kind.  I will say something about that shortly.

The second is that the Truth, Justice and Healing Council has been brought into existence.  Every diocese and well over 100 orders and congregations have authorised the ACBC or CRA to represent and act for them in the engagement of the church with the Royal Commission.

The ACBC and CRA have, in turn, delegated that authority to the council.

For practical purposes, therefore, the council will ordinarily speak for the whole church, its dioceses, its religious institutes, its priests and religious in the Royal Commission.  All of them are united in their support for the principles stated in the commitment which I reiterated at the beginning of these remarks.

Talk to the hand.

Let there be no doubt about the attitude and approach of the church to the work of this Royal Commission.  The church, through the council, intends to cooperate with the Commission fully, without reservation.

Of course, co-operation only applies to in front of the cameras. Behind the scenes we’ll fight as hard as ever to prevent the truth getting out.

Tens of thousands of documents have so far been produced from all around the country.  Witnesses have been and will be made available.  Bishops and archbishops and religious leaders will participate as the Commission may require.

We are going to bury you in paperwork and delay this baby till we can convince you that all the current office holders are too old or too dead.

The council’s aim is to do everything in its power to ensure that the Royal Commission has available to it from the church all the material that it needs for the work it seeks to do, so as to ensure that a light is shone on dark places and times and events – in the words of St Augustine nearly 2,000 years ago, to flood the path with light to ensure that nothing is concealed or covered up in respect of what church personnel did or failed to do, and so to give the victims and also the church itself a better chance to heal.  In that way, in the end, something good may be able to emerge from the awfulness and suffering which have occurred.  If it does, it will be the victims and their families who will have brought that about.

Another biblical reference. Another fine sounding but impossible to measure or assess PR objective. Don’t we sound like we are open and honest about this? All without actually having to be open and honest. Brilliant stuff.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

Coming soon: Part 2 – specific comments on the cases to be studied and Chair, Justice Peter McClellan, reprimanding Mr Gray for repeatedly trying to dictate to the Commission what to conclude.

Truth, Justice and Healing comes not from a Council but from a Commission

Survivors in Australia are waking up this week to a different world.

A world where those in positions of authority do not look the other way, shrug their shoulders and callously ignore the fact of the criminal child rape of children, the criminal coverup of those crimes and the ongoing re-abuse of the damaged adult survivors.

For decades or even longer parents, teachers, police, social workers, school principals, priests, bishops, cardinals, prosecutors, lawyers, judges, the media and, most of all, politicians have learnt or known of our suffering and did not care enough to do anything.*

Whether they thought it was not their place, or they would get in trouble for creating a scandal, or they would lose their job or social standing, or it could not be possible, or this issue was not allowed to be spoken about, or someone else would deal with it – they all left children to suffer horribly to save themselves discomfort.

And they got away with this dereliction of their duty of care, just as those who deliberately and cunningly plan and commit their crimes, and those who deliberately enable those crimes to continue, get away with their evil.

For so long we were silenced, no one spoke up for us and no one was held accountable.

Recently more and more survivors are speaking up and are being given more opportunities to do so.

But still we lack decisive, comprehensive action on this issue. The vast majority of these offenders and their protectors still slip through any protective measures with ease and are never stopped and never held accountable.

The criminals know they are still safe. And they act accordingly.

But they are not safe any longer.

Sitting in the hearing room of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in recent months I have been brought to tears many times as the realisation dawns that they are asking the right questions, they are determined to get the answers, and the information gathered will be used to develop truly effective recommendations. The tears are partly joy that the questions are being asked at last, and partly great sorrow at how much unnecessary suffering has been caused by not asking them earlier.

But this week there can no longer be any doubt.

As the smug paedophile protectors of the Catholic Church face the Commission for the first time, their facade of sincerity and their carefully crafted evasions, qualifications, diversions, excuses and misdirection are given the credibility they deserve. Absolutely none.

The CEO of the Untruth, Injustice and Denial of Healing Council, Frances Sullivan, sits smugly in the front row every day, and his lawyer offends most survivors in the room as soon as he opens his mouth. Church representatives, whether in front of TV cameras, in witness box or at bar table, make sure to say a lot of the right things, but we who understand them far better than we ever wanted, know they mean not a word of it. They still regard survivors speaking about our experiences as the problem to be dealt with. They don’t believe they have done anything deserving criticism. They still believe their way of doing things is just fine as it is, if only the biased media would focus on someone else for a change.

This week is the first time logic and brutal honesty has been applied in such strength and forensic detail to these experts in the low arts of obfuscation and mental reservation. And stripped of their protections of undue reverence and undeserved respect, they are revealed as less like moral leaders and much more like the immoral and often criminal cowards they truly are.

Hearing Justice Peter McClellan’s questions this week has brought me to the point where I can finally, for the first time in my life, relax and trust those in authority to do the job they were appointed to do.

I can see a possible future where campaigning for child protection and justice for survivors is not left to the survivors because those in power have neglected this issue so completely.

We are safe in Peter McClellan’s and Gail Furness’s hands, as we never were in the church’s.

We have been given what we asked for with this Royal Commission.

Fearless, committed, intelligent people who are not swayed by anyone’s claim of a special relationship with a supernatural being.

Let’s do all we can to help the Commission do its job.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

* There are notable exceptions, individuals, who did put children first and did take action. But the numbers and power of those determined to silence us, preferably permanently, overwhelmed and stymied their efforts.

Victims Heard at Last

Statement issued by survivors of Catholic child sexual abuse, their families and supporters on the first day of Royal Commission hearings into the catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse:

The children of Australia have long been denied our basic human right to safety.

In order to protect the reputation and assets of wealthy institutions and those who control them, we have been knowingly exposed to terrible danger.  We have suffered unbearable pain, and many of us have not survived.

When we begged for help or for justice our voices were ignored.

Those in a position to help us left those responsible for inflicting this harm to “deal with” the crimes committed aginst us.

In doing so they neglected their duty of care to us and to tens of thousands of children of this country over a long period of time.

But now, thanks to the bravery of survivors, insiders in various organisations and the media, speaking out about this issue when no-one wanted to listen, we are here, at last, to witness the truth being told by a few heroic individuals.

As you listen to their experiences, we hope you will gain a greater understanding of the real impact of these crimes, and we ask you to remember also all the others, heard and unheard, who have been through similar pain.

Our stories are hard to hear, but they are even harder to live, and immensely difficult to tell.

We tell them so that future children will not be callously exposed to danger, as we were.

We ask you to open your hearts and your minds to the suffering of so many Australian children, and in doing so secure the right to safety for future generations of children.

We ask that those responsible be held responsible. We ask that those accountable be held to account.

We ask for laws that protect children rather than predators, and we ask that they be enforced uniformly, that no person or institution be considered above the law.

We ask that all children be offered the same protection, no matter where they live, who their parents are, or what they believe.

We ask you not to be swayed by comforting but meaningless promises of change by institutions proven to continually lie about this issue.

We call on all State and Federal Governments to express support for and move towards implementing the recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry. We ask that this become the bedrock of child protection and justice for survivors in Australia, a solid foundation upon which the Royal Commission, with its more extensive investigations and recommendations, can build.

But most of all, we who know first hand what it is to be abused, abandoned and to live in constant fear, beg the Royal Commission, the media, our politicians, and the public to remember this is not about point scoring, or reputations, or power. It is most definitely not about religion. Or politics.

This is about living in a safe and just society.

This is about protecting children.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

Inquiry Asked “What Does Justice Look Like?” It looks like this.

betrayal_cover

Survivors of child sexual abuse in religious institutions in Australia were very nervous and excited with the imminent release of the final report of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.

We have been betrayed by those in authority so uniformly throughout our entire lives.

We have seen those determined to coverup these crimes pretending to offer truth, justice and healing but delivering a cynically perverted and highly abusive form of suppression of the truth, denial of justice and prevention of healing.

We have begged politicians to act on these crimes so many times over so many decades and they have continued to sacrifice the powerless and pander to the influential.

Police, the courts and child protection have let us down at best, neglected our rights, ignored our evidence, or been corruptly complicit in the criminal conspiracy to coverup the crimes against us at worst.

One survivor I was speaking to today described herself as paranoid in expecting to be disappointed and let down by those in authority who are supposed to assist us.

But one thing we are not, is paranoid.

Our inability to trust is a perfectly reasonable response to the terrifyingly confusing and unsafe world in which we grew up. And to the continuing betrayals we have experienced as vulnerable and damaged adults.

Those we were ordered to trust, our parents, teachers, the police, courts, politicians, religious officials, society, and of course, our abusers, were unworthy of our or anyone’s trust. (With some exceptions in certain cases)

So we couldn’t help but feel that somehow this inquiry would be perverted and corrupted too, and this report would contain, not the truth, and a way forward to prevent the disgraceful past from being repeated in the future, but another betrayal.

There was betrayal in the title of the report, but not, I am thrilled to conclude, in the contents.

The recommendations, while not delivering everything every survivor asked for, are an excellent beginning.

The committee has kept the recommendations simple, practical, and have focused on the core, the unquestionable, the vital improvements needed to drag this issue back from the Dark Ages.

They have understood the real causes of this problem and have not fallen for the deceitful PR campaigns aiming to excuse, distract, minimise or misrepresent what was really going on here.

The report did not include every point on my personal wish list of changes, but it did deliver most of them, and those it delivered are probably the most important to be implemented in the short term.

Other changes can be added later, hopefully in the reports of the Royal Commission.

Already there appears to be bipartisan support for swift implementation of these changes from the Victorian Parliament.

Indeed some of the recommendations are so well crafted as to be extremely simple to deliver with minute wording changes to legislation.

Naturally some are much more complicated.

But the reasoning behind these measures, and the arguments illuminating the flaws in the excuses offered for lobbying against similar measures in the past are simply too strong.

There is no acceptable excuse for not protecting children against dangerous, predatory child rapists. No matter who they work for.

This is a red letter day for survivors because we are seeing the end of betrayal and the beginning of hope.

Tonight the tears we cry will be happy ones.

Tonight we can sleep well knowing healing is finally possible.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

RIP Father Kevin Lee – a disobedient priest and a good man, punished for his honesty

The sad news is filtering through about the death of Father Kevin Lee in last week’s massive typhoon in the Philippines.

This was no doubt a very great tragedy for his friends and especially his young family, with whom he had spent so little time.

Kevin saw his daughter Michelle born in late September, knew her for a few short weeks, and will never see her grow up. But he was satisfied and happy, writing prophetically in his blog,

“I am watching you Michelle and I never want to feel regret that I did not love you enough. I want to know that whatever happens, I am grateful to God and Josefina for giving me the best treasure in my life. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how long I have with you. But.. every day…grateful … that you are my daughter…”

This terrible tragedy will also touch survivors around the country, as Father Lee was one of an extraordinarily rare breed. A catholic, and a priest, who eventually found the courage to put truth and justice before personal expediency and protecting the crimes and the criminals of his institution.

Father Kevin Lee was an Australian catholic priest who was in a loving and committed relationship with a woman.

It is not unusual for catholic priests to have sex with adult women. At least amongst those priests who are not gay or who don’t find it acceptable, convenient or exciting to rape children. What was unusual about this relationship was that it was consensual and loving, not abusive and exploitative.

If he had preyed upon a vulnerable young woman like so many of his colleagues, and forced her into both a sexual relationship and the secrecy made necessary by the catholic church’s celibacy requirement, he would have been in less trouble with the catholic hierarchy.

The point of the nonsensical celibacy rule is that, like in Orwell’s 1984, it is designed to be broken. Priests are human beings, very very far from divine and certainly not asexual. But once the celibacy rule is broken and the hierarchy or fellow priests have knowledge or evidence of it, they suddenly posses leverage, power and, most importantly, control over those who lapse in this way.

Consequences are threatened but rarely eventuate.

This blackmail, often mutual, is the oil which greases the many cogs of the Vatican machine.

You don’t tell my secrets and I won’t tell yours

It makes for some very strange bedfellows.

But Kevin went further. He committed what was, in the eyes of the hierarchy, a very great crime. A far more serious crime in their twisted thinking than raping thousands of children or vulnerable women and leaving behind a trail of immense suffering and death.

His heinous crime?

He married a woman.  While still a priest.

Strangely enough, the earth didn’t open up and swallow him.

He got on with his role as a priest and did some good for his community. For a whole year. And no one noticed the difference.

Now to remain a “good priest” and a “good catholic”, all he had to do was to keep up the lie. As long as the deceit and the fiction is maintained, no one has a problem.

But Kevin chose to be a moral and authentic human being instead, and told the truth.

Only he didn’t stop at the fact he had been married for a year and it hadn’t interfered with his ability to perform his duties as a priest.

He also told the truth about the widespread criminal coverup of systemic child rape within the catholic church.

Any up to date, reasonable, responsible, well managed organisation would welcome the information provided by Kevin, assess what it meant and revise their policies and procedures accordingly.

But no one except the seriously deluded has ever accused the catholic church of being up to date, reasonable, responsible or well managed.

Instead church officials refused to listen to Kevin and kicked him to the curb.

Now they had every right to do that.

What he did was not wrong, evil or unlawful in any way. Quite the opposite.

But he broke their stupid, senseless rules and they grabbed at the opportunity to terminate him.

What makes this so sinister is the comparison with the fact that thousands of other priests serially, systemically, routinely break the law by raping, in many cases, stupendous numbers of defenceless children, ruining hundreds or even thousands of innocent lives each, but they suffer little or no consequences, and in some cases are promoted.

And this is still the case.

Australia has now provided numerous examples of priests being swiftly (for anyone, not just the glacially slow church machinery) evicted from their ministry and the church altogether for what amounts to, if we stick with the Orwellian 1984 theme, thoughtcrime.

Hold the wrong opinion, or even worse express it publicly, and a priest can expect the most stringent penalty in the canon law arsenal enacted with lightning speed.

We are not talking cruel, discriminatory, vicious opinions here. Rather we are talking about not supporting the Vatican’s political and power seeking agenda, the fantasy of papal infallibility, and the cruel, discriminatory, vicious dictates insisting on blind, mindless obedience to the immoral, harmful, impoverishing and perversely intrusive sexual, marital and reproductive policies of these out of touch, obscenely wealthy, dysfunctional, childless old singletons.

By comparison, if a priest destroys the lives of thousands of innocent children, including the murder of those who suicide from their assaults and subsequent mistreatment by deceitful officials,  every excuse not to act will be rolled out, and every support and assistance provided to hide and protect the criminal and obstruct secular justice.

Look at this situation outside of the distorting effect of religious belief. Is this a world you want to live in, where this is what routinely happens, is widely acknowledged to happen and yet no-one in power does anything to change it, or even thinks they should? Do we really live in a democracy? Do we really have rule of law? Or are we already in a vicious theocracy by stealth?

Kevin Lee was not prepared to live in that world. He tried, using the power of the truth, to change it.

And it has changed. Thanks to Kevin, along with the efforts of so many others, we now have a National Royal Commission investigating the handling of child rape in the catholic church and other institutions.

I certainly hope before he died Kevin had a chance to give his evidence to the Royal Commission. Or perhaps they can question the officials, including Cardinal George Pell, to whom he reported his evidence.

Though what are the chances of Pell actually telling the Royal Commission what Kevin told him?

I can hear another few hundred “I can’t recall” moments coming on.

The battle is not won yet. Those same church officials who ignored Kevin’s evidence will try to hide the truth, undermine the Royal Commission’s efforts, and lobby to ensure no recommendations are implemented.

For those who are, like Kevin was, ministers of the catholic church and have knowledge about the coverup of these very serious crimes, now is the time to honour Kevin, and the victims and survivors, by continuing the fight to let the truth be known by the Royal Commission. To let an understanding of the full truth shape how we deal with this issue in the future.

The strategy, quoted by so many who consider themselves “good” priests or bishops, as a reason for staying put and keeping quiet, to try to “change the system from within” will never work.

Because unless you are part of the hierarchy, unless you are listened to and exert influence in the corridors of Rome, you are not really on the inside.

You are one of a cheap and largely powerless labour force, treated with utter contempt by those with real power, and used to milk as much money as possible from, and usurp the moral authority of, the mindless millions of lay catholics.

You are on the bottom of a pyramid of narcissists and sociopaths, who will never let people less cruelly self absorbed, less damaged or less obsessively ambitious than themselves climb the ladders of influence, nepotism and corruption.

But you are also likely to be a witness to many serious crimes.

You may have been told that to fight the church’s inquisitors and face down criticism for others’ actions is courageous and honest.

But the catholic church does not value courage or honesty. It punishes them.

It perverts them and mislabels them. Calling the cowardly brave and the liar an honest man.

Now is the time to utilise these very real, very human attributes.

Now is the time to rediscover your humanity.

Now is the time to stand up to the bullies and the liars and the criminals.

Now is the  time to tell the truth.

Just like Kevin Lee did.

RIP, and thank you, Kevin.

Stay safe everyone.

VV

A Tale of Three Inquiries – Part 3 The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry

The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry was the first of the current trio of investigations into the coverup and enabling of widespread child sexual assault by religious institutions.

All three inquiries are officially named in softer, and more complicated and inclusive language, but the core issue is that hundreds of priests and religious have been raping and sexually violating tens, if not hundreds of thousands of kids, and their bishops and cardinals have let them get away with it.

Not only have the self described religious “leaders” helped the rapists to escape law enforcement and continue offending, they have acted decisively to prevent victims being heard or receiving the help we so desperately need. They have made every effort to prevent any independent scrutiny of this issue. They have blocked any legal or political moves to enforce a more compassionate or law abiding response.

And children continue to be exposed to danger, since more than 99% of all child sex criminals, and likely an even higher percentage of this carefully protected subspecies, are still free to reoffend, most with their reputations and identities protected, and with privileged and unquestioned access to kids.

The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry was widely criticised by many, including myself, at the time of its announcement, for the many deficiencies of its terms of reference. Drafting the terms of reference was a political decision, made by a Premier no longer in power, and is no reflection on those conducting the inquiry.

But despite its inadequacies, this is nonetheless an extremely important inquiry, a crucial milestone and indeed stepping stone towards nationwide attempts at justice, and a strategic testing ground for this issue.

Without the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations we would probably not have the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Or rather, we would probably not have it yet.

This first announcement, on 17 April, 2012, softened up the church hierarchy to the fact that it was no longer politically acceptable for them to continue to be allowed to get away with their criminal conspiracy. This first blow to the bishops’ previously inviolable secrecy paved the way for the more powerful and comprehensive national inquiry announced on 12 November, 2012.

Victorian Attorney General Robert Clark admitted on the 7.30 Report on 20 April 2012 that the Victorian Government had negotiated extensively with Catholic officials and their lawyers in the twelve months prior to the announcement of the Inquiry.

Hullo? Does no one in this country understand the meaning of the word “corruption”? Or is the problem rather that those in power, in all spheres, understand it all too well? The government does not ask permission of drug bosses or bikie gangs before investigating their crimes, or negotiate the conditions of any investigation. This situation is no different, except perhaps that religious criminals commit crimes that disgust even the most hardened ordinary criminals.

The fact that such negotiations took twelve months, despite a clear direction in the Cummins Report from the year before that an inquiry was needed, and public disgust at the growing numbers of suicide deaths coming to light which resulted directly from the appalling response of the catholic church, shows how very hard it was to get the church’s permission to investigate its crimes.

Once again, are we living in the Dark Ages? The church is supposed to be subject to our local laws and answerable to the Government, not the other way around.

For those unsure how this secret influence over Australian governments has been achieved, a brief reading of the Seven Mountains strategy should be illuminating. The actual Seven Mountains strategy is practiced by a different cult, fundamentalist loonies, but it does spell out what the catholic church has been doing for millenia in their attempts at world domination.

Basically the Seven Mountains strategy aims to equip what they call “change agents” to become educated and burrow their way into positions of power and authority in the seven cultural mountains of influence. These change agents are instructed to go into the world and make disciples and teach them to obey the commands of Jesus (as interpreted by them, of course). They believe culture is shaped by only a few operating at the top of a cultural mountain of influence. (world domination, anyone?). They speak in the language of inclusiveness but are actually deeply conservative.  Once having achieved the desired domination (they are often known as dominationists) we can be sure they would soon introduce an authoritarian theocracy.

An example of the catholic version can be seen in attempts to control and profit (even more) from mental health services in Australia by ensuring the appointment of a senior church official to the inaugural position as Mental Health Commissioner. This was a man personally responsible for many mental health problems experienced by thousands of survivors, through his role in developing and implementing Towards Healing. The prospect of the countless thousands suffering from the effects of brutal sexual, physical and psychological abuse by religious institutions receiving the help they need would shrink dramatically under such stewardship. Thankfully he was forced to resign from the role before he could do much damage, but the system is such that there are sure to be many others pursuing the church’s agenda in or near such strategic positions, throughout Australian government, courts, academia, arts and entertainment, the media and business.

And no doubt, the Royal Commission.

The process of infiltrating and perverting our culture and government can be reversed by people standing up for what is right over what is expedient for a bunch of rich, well connected old crims playing dress ups.

Note that the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, only found it necessary to phone Cardinal (I’m not the head of the church in Australia) Pell and warn him he was going to have to get a lot more familiar with a concept called the truth. As far as we know there was no extensive consultation, indeed there was no time for it to occur, unlike in Victoria just months earlier.

But I believe the church hierarchy’s insistence that the terms of reference of the Victorian inquiry be widened to other religions and indeed other institutions will backfire and end up shooting them in the foot. First of all, despite their constant whining about being unfairly targeted (try being a defenceless long term child victim of a rapist priest, and then you will know about unfair targeting), no-one has ever suggested the catholic church is the only place of refuge for dangerous serial sex offenders.

It is clearly one of the best and most accommodating host institutions for such vermin, but no one disputes that child rapists exist everywhere, except perhaps where they cannot access their prey.

Did catholic officials really believe they could hide from view in the crowd of other abusive institutions who sacrifice children to protect themselves? Do they not understand the immense and horrific scale of the problem they have allowed to flourish, compared to others. Or do they really only look as far forward as being able to say “Nah, nah, told you it wasn’t just us!”

This strategy of being one of the crowd comes apart when it comes to recommendations, however.

The catholic church always ensures it operates under a series of special conditions, receives special treatment, official or unofficial, which gives it undeserved and unfair advantages over other organisations.

And over victims seeking justice or even protection from ongoing sexual assaults.

But if these crimes are being investigated across the board, as church officials themselves insisted, any recommendations must surely apply uniformly across the board.

The evidence will no doubt support going further than that and imposing especially stringent scrutiny for catholic institutions. Unfortunately that will never happen as the squawking about unfairness would be unending. Rest assured though, the public simply will not accept the catholic church being given any more free passes to continue to commit crimes unchecked.

That alone will be pretty hard to endure for those who believe themselves above the law, and entitled to be above the law.

One item sure to test this issue is the heavily promoted “sanctity of the confessional”. This attempts to place a religious practice, changeable and subject to the whims of a criminal cabal ruling what is claimed to be a sovereign foreign country, above Australian law relating to some of the most serious of crimes against some of the most vulnerable in society. It endangers children, obstructs justice and thwarts law enforcement.

Continuing to give credulity to this nonsense makes a mockery of our legal system.

Other ways in which this inquiry has paved the way is the shocking evidence revealed via public hearings throughout 2012, and the widespread media coverage of that evidence.

This factor is vitally important, as many in the wider public do not have the advantage we survivors enjoy, of knowing just how bad the situation truly is, just how evil and cruel these self serving officials are, and just how desperately significant change is needed. Every incident of media coverage increases public understanding and reduces the chances of the church hierarchy being successful in any future attempts to sweep this under the carpet yet again and carry on with their crimes as usual.

Most significantly, this inquiry provided an opportunity for senior Victorian police to officially stop protecting church officials from the truth, and start telling it like it really is. The results were explosive.

Unfortunately from the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry evidence, it would seem some senior NSW police are still being pulled in two different directions between telling the truth and religious affiliation. Or should I say intimidation?

The evidence revealed in the Victorian public hearings is enormously beneficial to survivors. It is also traumatic and triggering, but hearing the truth told and listened to and believed in public, in a formal, official setting, for the very first time, can help to heal the immense additional damage inflicted by mistreatment at the hands of officials concerned only with covering up.

It can inspire victims to become survivors. To ask for help.  To tell their own stories. And to seek justice and healing.

Hearing church officials being asked hard questions about their actions by an official inquiry for the very first time is also something this inquiry has offered to survivors throughout Australia. This inquiry did not ask enough questions, did not cover enough details, and did not go deep enough, very far from it, but it did put the entitled princes of the church under the spotlight and hold them accountable for a few hours.

For that we are very grateful.

We look to the Royal Commission to finish the job. No matter how large.

Many survivors did not manage to write a submission or front a public hearing in the totally inadequate time allowed, so their evidence was not heard or taken into account. Hopefully in the meantime they have found the strength and the support to contact the Royal Commission and have their say that way.

The flaws identified in the Victorian Inquiry’s Terms of Reference resulted in pretty much what was expected. An inquiry that was too short, too shallow and didn’t get the full job done. Thankfully we now have the Royal Commission to fill those gaps. And in the meantime, with the help of this inquiry, the Australian public, Australian media and Australian politicians have moved some distance from the appalling neglect, cowardice and complacency which allowed these atrocities to flourish unchecked for so long.

One delightful aspect of this inquiry has been to see a group of somewhat inexperienced, and certainly inexpert politicians on the Family and Community Development Committee grow into the role suddenly foisted upon them. They rose to the task without exception and now are finished the immeasurably difficult job of drafting recommendations.

In many ways, knowing what is needed is brutally simple.

Protect children, not criminals

Support victims, not criminals

Hold the criminals accountable, don’t cover up their crimes

Prevent the criminals from continuing to commit these crimes, don’t give them the perfect conditions in which to reoffend

Such simple, obvious concepts. That tragically, appallingly, have never, ever been implemented in this country. Certainly not in the catholic church, and not elsewhere.

Our children deserve this at the very least.

But ensuring workable recommendations that will actually be implemented is horribly complicated.

Hopefully this will be seen as an opportunity to trial some innovative recovery and support strategies, such as the excellent and very practical proposal developed by survivors in Ballarat.

My advice to the Committee, were they to seek it.

Aim high.

Don’t limit yourselves.

Make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Honour the suffering of all the victims, particularly those precious and far too short lives lost to suicide.

And do everything possible to prevent any more innocents from being added to our number.

The report of the Parliamentary Inquiry is expected to be released on Wednesday morning.

However, the Committee can only make recommendations to the Victorian parliament, for implementation in Victoria. And the implementation of those recommendations will be dependent on support from political parties who until now have shown themselves to be more interested in religious voting blocs and the influence of church leaders than what is best for our children.

Some religious apologists will criticise any recommended actions to protect children. They will argue unfair treatment, violation of religious freedom (do they really want to admit their religious practice requires the rape of little children?) and a range of conspiracy theories.

Officials, if they have any sense, will not argue, at least not in public. Ferocious behind the scenes lobbying and threats will however attempt to remove, water down, delay or otherwise render ineffective any recommendations.

The response to these recommendations will be a test of the integrity of church officials and politicians alike.

Will they serve the best interests of society, and demonstrate they deserve their positions of authority?

Or will their response merely be self serving?

Stay safe everyone.

VV

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