Editorials 30 March 2010

March 30th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has advice for the Catholic Church:

A Vatican newspaper claims the hailstorm of allegations of priestly sexual abuse is a conspiracy aimed at the present Pope and the Catholic Church.

Ironically, it targets the “media” as leading or cheerleading this conspiracy, the New York Times being the latest to publish a historical claim, from up to 70 young, deaf boys who allege abuse by an American priest now dead.

It is unfortunate the messenger is being criticised rather than the message heeded. There is much still to be done for the church to put this sin behind it. …

Some calculate the total number of priests and the relatively small number of offenders over many years and then compare that to percentages for the secular world.

Their argument is that church-linked offending is no greater than the sad reality of society’s norm. But it is a forlorn and defensive mindset.

As the Economist magazine has argued, if you preach absolute moral values you will be judged against absolute moral standards.

The church cannot accept relative failure or relative consequences, particularly under this Pope who argues forcefully for an end to relativism.

If it is true to itself, the Catholic Church cannot be satisfied with being as good as, or not as bad as, other parts of society.

If any conspiracy exists, it is the one in which sexual offenders were protected and victims abandoned by those in authority.

A new conspiracy is needed, one which confirms in deeds the Pope’s words to the Irish. Responsibility must be taken by those who hid wrong.

I’m just glad I was raised Anglican!

The Dom Post focuses on the affair:

The most alarming aspect of the Mary Anne Thompson affair is not that a senior public servant falsified her CV, but that the former head of the public service halted inquiries into her falsehood years before it was exposed.

This is the point I made a couple of days ago.

But within minutes of Mrs Bell questioning her about the doctorate she claimed to have obtained from the London School of Economics, Thompson withdrew her application for the post.

Mrs Bell undertook further investigations on her own initiative and advised Mr Wintringham that there was no record of Thompson gaining a doctorate. But, instead of initiating a formal investigation, Mr Wintringham told Mrs Bell to stop her inquiries.

He was, he subsequently said, concerned that further inquiries could “damage both the defendant’s considerable professional reputation and the reputation of the commission as well”.

He was right about the first. He was wrong about the second. What has damaged the commission’s reputation is not Thompson’s fraud, but Mr Wintringham’s failure to properly investigate a matter of obvious concern.

Really it was a disgraceful decision – and one made worse by his failure to even leave a file note on the issue for his successor. You’d expect better from the most junior HR manager, let alone the State Services Commissioner.

The Press hails a triumph for Obama:

The United States health reform controversy continues to swirl with such intensity that it is difficult to decipher the dispositions of the antagonists. However, one thing is sure – President has won his place in history, if only because of the health bill’s emergence into law.

No other president has pushed through such important reform in this field and most have not dared to try. Obama’s handling of the process was less than stellar and it has united his opponents, but the result is legislation that will transform a fundamental foundation of American society.

Hmmn. I wonder if they have read the law change. It isn’t that dramatic.

And the ODT takes issue with :

The thrust of his speech clearly implied that for tribal Maori, democracy does not work and does not sit comfortably with Maori cultural concepts.

Historical fact suggests this argument does not wash in national politics, since Maori candidates have long been elected to general seats and the specific provision of Maori electorates has ensured at least a foothold in Parliament.

The notable absence of Maori at local body level has been regrettable, but why that is so cannot merely be attributed to “prejudice, cultural arrogance, and institutional racism”.

Relatively few people are aware that in Parliament, Maori are over-represented in relation to their proportion of the adult population.

So I find it hard to see how the democratic system is failing Maori.

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21 Responses to “Editorials 30 March 2010”

  1. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Democracy doesn’t work for them because they don’t always get what they want. What they want is minority rule based on race.

    If i understand correctly that system has been judged as being quite a naughty thing to do.

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  2. Inventory2 (9,788 comments) says:

    With respect DPF, you’re being naive if you think Wintringham made that decision on the Thompson case without external assistance. It has all the hallmarks of a political decision, designed to prevent the government of the day being embarrassed through one of its hand-picked mandarins being exposed as a fraud.

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  3. gravedodger (1,426 comments) says:

    I agree IV2, all jokes from Sir Humphry and Basil aside, Mr Wintringham did not get to that lofty position by being as stoopid incompetent and naive as is portrayed. The heavy hand of political interference is as obvious to me as footprints in the snow but it will in all likelyhood never be exposed.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Reading MSM commentary (foreign and domestic) about the Catholic Church’s current approach to the abuse issues has me wondering if journalists and reporters have actually bothered to read letters written by JPII and Benedict XVI around these issues. There’s no doubt there have been terrible problems in certain pockets of the Church but to report that the Church is still obstinately sitting on it’s hands is to ignore that facts about what the Church has done in the last decade or so to deal with these things. Such an approach by journalists is either lazy and unprofessional – or supports the theory that at some level there is some intentional misrepresentation of the Church.

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  5. bruceh (101 comments) says:

    re Sharples, Maori tribal culture and democracy. The issue is not whether democracy has ‘worked’ for Maori in terms of representation, in fact this has worked reasonably well.

    The issue is that ‘active’ tribal culture, with it’s top down hierarchy in authority and cultural permissions, if extended into the public domain, sure as daylight to dark does not sit well with democracy

    This being the case, why does Sharples try to extend tribal governance into these areas?

    It took the west hundreds of years to figure out the civil society benefits of rule of law as compared to rule of might or status.

    When tribal governance is extended to artificial, contrived notions such co-management of resources, the loss of commercial and democratic accountability is pretty much guaranteed.

    The reduction of economic benefits and loss of liquidity will be pernicious, un-costed drags on the whole country, let alone Maori interests

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  6. Fletch (5,719 comments) says:

    I’m just glad I was raised Anglican!

    And do you think that there is less abuse in the Anglican Church than in the Catholic? Interesting…
    Or in any organisation, come to that.
    It’s only because the media have latched on to the Catholic Church and it is getting all this coverage that is appears so.

    In 2002 the Christian Science Monitor reported on the results of national surveys by Christian Ministry Resources. The conclusion: “Despite headlines focusing on the priest pedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant, and most of the alleged abusers are not clergy or staff, but church volunteers.”

    Source: Mark Clayton, “Sex Abuse Spans Spectrum of Churches,” Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 2002, p. 1.

    As Lucia point out on NZ Conservative the other day –

    There are currently 400,000 Catholic priests in the whole world.

    Allegations of sexual abuse, spanning a period of 50 years have been made against 3000 priests, or roughly 0.75% of total priests worldwide.

    Of these 3000 alleged abusers, 10% were pedophiles, 60% were homosexual attractions to teenaged boys.

    So, in an institution that currently has over 1 billion members, there have been 300 priests world wide, over the last 50 years accused of pedophilia.

    I wonder how that compares with other institutions both secular and religious?
    As The Herald points out, there SHOULD be no abuse by religious institutions because they are held to a higher moral standard, but unfortunately there is.

    [DPF: At St Hildas my priest had a very nice wife whom I presume he had sex with (especially as they had children), so he never found a need for sex with young boys]

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  7. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    The NZ Herald has advice for the Catholic Church:

    Their argument is that church-linked offending is no greater than the sad reality of society’s norm. But it is a forlorn and defensive mindset.

    As the Economist magazine has argued, if you preach absolute moral values you will be judged against absolute moral standards.

    Indeed.
    The church SHOULD be held to higher standards than society in general, as the church is MEANT to set the absolute moral standard.

    But then the Roman Catholic church has always been reactionary rather than proactive in holding its priests, etc to account for acts of sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour.

    Maybe the RC church would like to come clean on its support for Hitler and Mussolini during WWII while it’s at it – won’t be holding my breath.

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  8. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    And the ODT takes issue with Pita Sharples:

    The thrust of his speech clearly implied that for tribal Maori, democracy does not work and does not sit comfortably with Maori cultural concepts.

    [DPF:] Relatively few people are aware that in Parliament, Maori are over-represented in relation to their proportion of the adult population.

    So I find it hard to see how the democratic system is failing Maori.

    Indeed, DPF.
    Perhaps we can blame the over-representation of Maori in our prisons on the over-representation of Maori in our Parliament?

    And therefore I suggest we pull the plug on the Maori seats on the basis that; 1) They are racist. and 2) That by removing them we will reduce the Maori prison population.

    This has got to be a win win all round; surely Pita would agree? ;)

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  9. Fletch (5,719 comments) says:

    Kris K, I have had to refute the Hitler thing so many times I’m getting sick of it, but it isn’t true.
    Rather than typing and cutting and pasting I will just direct you to my LINK from January.

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  10. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Fletch 5:34 pm,

    Kris K, I have had to refute the Hitler thing so many times I’m getting sick of it, but it isn’t true.

    I think I saw your comment at the time.
    I have also read much that supports the opposite view to the one you put forward.
    So perhaps we will just have to agree to disagree.

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  11. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    [DPF: At St Hildas my priest had a very nice wife whom I presume he had sex with (especially as they had children), so he never found a need for sex with young boys]

    Indeed, DPF.
    I think this is the problem with the RC practice that doesn’t permit its priests to marry:

    1Ti 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

    By forbidding marriage it puts temptations in other directions – young boys, etc.

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  12. Pete George (21,803 comments) says:

    It’s not just the number of priests that have offended, it is the number of times they have offended and over how many years, often effectively with the aid of the church authorities. And under pressure from unnatural church practices of trying to deny natural sexuality.

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  13. andrei (2,429 comments) says:

    And under pressure from unnatural church practices of trying to deny natural sexuality.

    That unintentionally funny coming from who who thinks male to male and female female couplings are in some way “natural”.

    The media are all in a lather because the Pope’s Palm Sunday homily was about Palm Sunday and not about their one of their favorite topics – sodomy.

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  14. andrei (2,429 comments) says:

    DPF: At St Hildas my priest had a very nice wife whom I presume he had sex with (especially as they had children), so he never found a need for sex with young boys]

    Did he inculcate you in the Faith I wonder?

    The Anglican Church is bleeding people at an alarming rate – Do you wonder why?

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  15. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    The Catholic church is starting to lose members itself andrei.

    If you don’t provide leadership the followers will go looking for it elsewhere.

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  16. Fletch (5,719 comments) says:

    Here are some snippets by Cardinal John J. O’Connor

    It’s remarkable how determined some media and other people are that we priests
    should be married. How they sympathize with us over the supposed cruelties of
    celibacy being imposed upon us by a Pope who purportedly has no understanding
    whatsoever of the compassion of Jesus.

    The tabloid writers may be the most maudlin, but most of them don’t present our case
    with a fraction of the vehemence of some of those serious journalists who have taken up
    the cause of marriage for priests, as a mask of their own hatred of the church.

    Isn’t it extraordinary, for example, how many of the current spate of articles calling for
    abolition of celibacy always chant the same litany about ‘freedom of conscience’
    regarding abortion, sexual activity, receiving Communion regardless of life-style,
    marital status, etc.? Everything has become a ‘human right’ and as soon as this Pope
    dies, they assure us smugly, Catholics will be liberated!

    One of these [reasons most frequently given for abolishing celibacy] simply outrageous,
    namely that it would end such tragedies as paedophilia. And this after all that has been
    published on this horror, all the statistics
    gathered? Are those who propose this unaware that most sexual abuse, including
    paedophilia, apparently occurs within families, not excluding parental abuse of
    children and younger by older siblings? Do they not know that married and single
    people of all walks of life are accused of perpetrating such abuse on children and other
    minors? No one has ever been able to correlate celibacy with sexual abuse. Some sexual
    abuses have been perpetrated by some priests. That’s tragic. But it has not been the fault
    of celibacy.

    Some priests are tempted to engage in sexual relations with women. Marriage, it is
    said, would cure their temptations. Perhaps in some cases. But are no married men
    tempted to be unfaithful to their wives? Are none of the huge number of divorces in the
    US attributable to ‘sexual incompatibility’? Human nature is weak. Would a priest who
    married a particular woman never again have ‘sexual problems’? That is, would he lose
    his humanity, hence, his weakness?

    But of course, given a priest’s training and self-discipline and understanding and
    sensitivity, one might expect his marriage to be idyllic. Would there be no illness, no
    poverty, no afflicted children, no drugs, no drunkenness, no boredom, no
    discouragement? Is that the case? Is it honest to say of a priest who is unhappy because
    required to be celibate: ‘Only lift the requirement, and he will be happy’?

    In my judgment, but wanting to be both sympathetic and realistic, many priests are no
    more exempt from an impossibly romantic concept of marriage than are many very
    young lay persons in love.

    MORE

    The idea that marriage is the cure for pedophiles (be they priest or layperson) is just silly.
    Try using that as an excuse in the secular world, “oh, if only he was married, he wouldn’t have the temptation to abuse any more” and see how many people take you seriously.

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  17. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Fletch [March 31st, 2010 at 10:21 am],

    The idea that marriage is the cure for pedophiles (be they priest or layperson) is just silly.
    Try using that as an excuse in the secular world, “oh, if only he was married, he wouldn’t have the temptation to abuse any more” and see how many people take you seriously.

    While no one is suggesting that marriage is the be all cure for pedophilia, by forbidding priests the option of marriage this removes the ONLY legitimate expression of sexuality which is permitted for Christians.

    So while the Bible speaks of those who may CHOOSE to be (sexual) eunichs that they might serve God more effectively, this is a PERSONAL choice, not one to be thrust upon them by another authority as is the case with the RC church.

    As per my quoting earlier (6:04 pm) of 1 Tim 4:3:

    1Ti 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

    I think God makes clear in His word that it is wrong to forbid marriage as is the RC practice for priests.
    One might also notice that the same verse mentions “commanding to abstain from meats”, another RC practice.

    It is my personal belief that this verse is specifically directed towards ‘denominations’ that adhere to these two practices, and on that basis this is likely a warning UNIQUELY directed towards the RC church. Once again, just my opinion; but I think a justifiable one.

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  18. Fletch (5,719 comments) says:

    So while the Bible speaks of those who may CHOOSE to be (sexual) eunichs that they might serve God more effectively, this is a PERSONAL choice, not one to be thrust upon them by another authority as is the case with the RC church.

    Um, I’m a Catholic and the Church is not forbidding me to marry. In fact, the Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily. They “renounce marriage” (Matt. 19:12); no one forbids it to them. Any Catholic who doesn’t wish to take such a vow doesn’t have to, and is almost always free to marry with the Church’s blessing. The Church simply elects candidates for the priesthood (or, in the Eastern rites, for the episcopacy) from among those who voluntarily renounce marriage.

    Read in context, in 1 Timothy 4, Paul is speaking about those who have veered away from the Christian understanding of the goodness of marriage, opting for a false asceticism that denounces it. This heresy would later raise its head against the Church in the form of the Cathari, who condemned marriage and procreation as great evils.

    Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (19:12 NAB).

    When I was young, our neighbour was a Presbyterian Minister. He once told my mother that if given the choice again he would have chosen not to marry because your loyalties are divided between your parishioners and your family. In this he echoes the words of Paul in 1 Cor 7 –

    “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. . . . I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.

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  19. Fletch (5,719 comments) says:

    ps, in a sense the Priest is married, which is why you will often see a priest wearing a wedding ring. His spouse is the Church.
    Nuns also wear wedding rings.

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  20. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Fletch 1:39 pm,

    Um, I’m a Catholic and the Church is not forbidding me to marry. In fact, the Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily.

    You either haven’t read my comments very well, or you’re deliberately obfuscating, Fletch.

    I have made it MORE than clear that the “forbidding to marry” pertains to the RC priesthood, not the layman or the average person in the pew.

    Surely you’re not denying that the RC church FORBIDS HER PRIESTS/NUNS TO MARRY? AND THAT THEY ARE TO REMAIN CELEBATE?

    And if you want to get into the spiritual marriage area it is actually the Body of Christ; the church of ALL BELIEVERS; the Bride of Christ, who is married to Christ the head; the bridesgroom – well technically we are betrothed as the marriage ceremony hasn’t occurred yet, but will during Daniel’s 70th week; the time of Jacob’s trouble.

    There is no sense in scripture that the individual believer is to marry the church, as you suggest is the case with nuns/priests in the RC church.

    Church —> Christ
    Body —> Head
    Bride —> Bridesgroom

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  21. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Fletch,

    And as a follow up:
    If a priest/nun decides to marry later on; that is they revoke their vow of celebacy, can they stay in the priesthood as a married individual? Or must they leave the priesthood to marry?

    And if the latter (which is my understanding), then the RC church DOES IN FACT FORBID HER PRIESTS TO MARRY, as was my original assertion – correct me if I’m wrong.

    Saying that priests are chosen from those who have made a vow of celebacy is just semantics – to be a priest you MUST take a vow of celebacy. Once again; correct me if I’m wrong.

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