Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart just cannot stop insulting victims every time he opens his mouth.
He wrote another letter this week, in conjunction with his fellow Victorian bishops and leaders of religious orders, which reached its intended audience, the news media, yesterday.
He even started off well, coming as close to honesty about this issue as I’ve seen from any Australian catholic official.
Let us be very clear. The sexual abuse of a child was, is and always will be a crime, and is contrary to all we believe in.
Very true. And remarkably clear, direct and unequivocal for something emanating from a catholic bishop.
So Victoria’s leading church yes men have been forced by fear of the revelations soon to come from Victoria’s parliamentary inquiry into doing the unthinkable. Defining their own actions as criminal and the epitome of hypocrisy.
Surely such a groundbreaking admission will be followed by equally groundbreaking actions to right the immense wrong they have long committed and continue to commit against thousands of society’s most vulnerable and defenceless. Won’t it?
Not as such.
That was as much as Archbishop Heartless had the stomach for.
After that it was back to tired old excuses, denials, lies and lack of action to protect children.
The Church has apologised for these failures.
Oh, that’s okay then.
Now lets all forget about this nonsense and get back to telling ordinary people, who do not usually commit or coverup child rape, how to live their lives.
But hold on, wasn’t Hart just admitting at last that we are talking about some of the most heinous crimes known to mankind?
A mere two lines later and its already back to a “failure”. What will it be by the end of letter? Inappropriate behaviour? Unfortunate circumstances?
Or barely referred to at all in the rush to rollout that self congratulatory overused old chestnut “good works”.
I love the good works excuse.
Because it makes absolutely no sense at all.
Who else but a catholic religious expects the old “good works” card to function like a “get out of jail free” card?
“Your honour, my client the mass murderer should not be held accountable for his crimes because he once helped a little old lady across the road”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before? That changes everything! Release the accused immediately and hand him back his AK-47!”
Or worse still, claim to be doing something you most definitely are NOT doing, namely:
the careful implementation of policies and practices to provide the best possible protection for children in our community
And then claim that complete fabrication as one of the good works that makes all this nasty child rape stuff just go away in a puff of magic smoke and mirrors.
Since Heartless and cabal chose to make this a news item I feel obliged to pull them up on a couple of other outrageous lies lurking in this most misleading missive.
Why so misleading? Because by inserting a rare morsel of frankness, a whiff of stunningly unexpected honesty, Hart must hope to both grab media attention and flavour his whole letter. The rest of it is a pack of lies and excuses, but Hart expects the mindless to assume it is all, contained as it is within the same communication, of a similar nature to that little truth bomb.
Here are his sneaky little stingers:
to continue to ensure we do everything in our power to protect children
Sorry, but you cannot continue something you have never even started. What makes this lie particularly heartbreaking for victims is that the church fights tooth and nail against any measure likely to improve child protection, showing how very deliberate is the policy not to protect children. Perhaps Hart thinks the phrase “in our power” gives him carte blanche to do absolutely nothing to help children and still make this claim with a straight face.
The Church respects the Parliamentary process and will co-operate fully with the Inquiry.
Hart himself will prove this one a lie in a very short time.
In the meantime it could be useful to ask, if he is so keen to “co-operate fully”, when are the truckloads of secret abuse files going to be delivered to the Committee? Where is the letter encouraging church employees to be completely honest and to provide everything they know to the Committee, without fear of job loss, recriminations and abuse? Where is the list of known rapist priests still active in ministry who have never been reported to police? Who will be making the days and days of open and frank admissions about known abuse, neglected victims, and avoidable suicides kept hidden until now? Where is the list of acknowledged rapists and their historical postings so parents can check if their children were exposed to these predators, and today’s parents can take appropriate precautions against the rapists kept out of jail and in the community? And why did he not even bother with “in our power” to excuse this lie?
And finally we reach the heart of the letter.
During the Inquiry you may hear disturbing reports of cases in our past when Church processes to prevent and respond to abuse failed the children in our care.
Not may, Denis.
You will hear disturbing reports of past and present cases when the church response to abuse obsessively protected the institution and callously sacrificed and horrifically re-abused innocent children.
Every victim I know is working on their submission to this inquiry. They realise just how rare is this chance to tell their story and be listened to, not called a liar, not beaten or raped, not bullied and intimidated.
And every single story is just as appalling, and the church officials’ action just as criminally culpable, as those featuring in the media in past months.
I hope the Committee have strong stomachs.
Unlike us, they have not been accustomed to the callousness of church officials from a young age, and may find our evidence shocking.