Editorials 30 March 2010

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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