Pope wants to ban indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness

Religion may help some people cope with the Covid-19 virus, but even people as high as the head priest can’t do much but console and support – and suggest bans of common human conditions.

Reuters: Banish ‘self-centredness’, pope tells the world as it faces coronavirus

The pope’s Easter “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, delivered from an empty St. Peter’s Basilica instead of to the usual crowd of tens of thousands in the square outside, was by far his most pressing and political since his election in 2013.

“This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic,” he said in the message, almost entirely dedicated to the pandemic’s effects on personal and international relations.

“Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time. We want to ban these words forever!” he said.

It doesn’t say how he plans to ban those things. Maybe he will call on people to pray for it.

Catholic abuse issue festers on with more insiders speaking up

Even the official Catholic line is for a significant change in approach to world-wide scandals of abuse that have been swept under the church gowns for decades.

The Pope is under increasing pressure and criticism:

The ‘gravely negligent’ charge (and similar) is becoming common, including in New Zealand. There is a campaign to change the name of a Dunedin High School named after a Bishop who effectively allowed priests to continue abusing.

In August:  Not ready to condemn Kavanagh

The Bishop of Dunedin is not yet ready to condemn a predecessor, but says the actions of a priest who aided a paedophile Christian Brother would ”definitely not” be appropriate today.

Bishop Michael Dooley yesterday defended former Dunedin bishop John Kavanagh, who had jurisdiction over Fr Magnus Murray and Br Desmond Fay at the time of their offending in Dunedin.

Fr Murray, who in 2003 admitted offences against four Dunedin boys dating back to 1958-72, was sent to Australia by Bishop Kavanagh for treatment after details of his offending were raised in 1972.

Bishop Kavanagh later endorsed Fr Murray’s return to public ministry in the North Island, where more victims have since emerged.

Bishop Kavanagh also had ultimate jurisdiction over Br Desmond Fay, who was principal at Christian Brothers Junior School when he allegedly abused a young boy who later committed suicide.

Br Fay, who also taught at St Edmund’s School in South Dunedin, was sent overseas after the intervention of a Dunedin Catholic priest, Fr Kevin Kean.

Moving abusing priests on to other locations where abuse continued seems to be a common story.

ODT last Thursday: Emotions high amid calls for name change

Tears mixed with calls for healing as more than 50 people gathered in Dunedin to demand a new name for Kavanagh College last night.

The meeting was organised by former Kavanagh College pupils Christian McNab (25) and Sam Murphy (26) following ODT Insight revelations about sexual offending within the Dunedin diocese.

Much of the abuse occurred under the watch of Dunedin Catholic bishop at the time John Kavanagh, from whom the college took its name in 1989.

And, as current Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley watched from the audience, survivors and their supporters stood, one by one, to share their stories and join the call for a name change last night.

Board member Paul O’Neill told last night’s meeting the decision was ultimately for Bishop Dooley to make, but the issue was being considered ”seriously”.

So one bishop gets to make the decision. A bishop who has so far failed to adequately acknowledge the severity of the situation for the Catholic Church in Dunedin and in New Zealand. This seems to be a failing that goes right to the top, the Pope.

But some in the church are prepared to stand up. Last Monday Alexandra’s priest speaks out

A Central Otago priest has broken his silence by criticising the Catholic Church’s handling of historic sexual abuse allegations.

Alexandra parish priest Fr Vaughan Leslie said the church’s response, within New Zealand and overseas, had helped fuel the “abuse crisis” now engulfing the church.

It had failed to remove men from ministry when credible complaints were received, and “misguided protectionism” had occurred “at the expense of truth and justice”, he said.

The response also highlighted the need for culture change within the church hierarchy, here and overseas, to put an end to a situation in which “in-groups of clergy hold all the reins of power”.

“I speak out because I love the Catholic Church, but not always the way she is run.

Saying this as a priest could well challenge some members of the Catholic hierarchy, but not doing so makes me guilty of saying the status quo is OK – which I do not believe [will do] if we are to regain our credibility, particularly in the moral area.

“Only when this occurs will victims of all forms of church-based abuse be able to trust the church again and have confidence that her processes will effectively protect the vulnerable, now and in the future.”

He had been compelled to speak out once before, in 2003, when he wrote to Dunedin paedophile priest Fr Magnus Murray in prison, urging him to seek forgiveness for his “truly evil” crimes.

Fr Murray had responded by complaining to the church hierarchy from his prison cell, and Fr Leslie was reprimanded for his actions.

He would not name the church official who reprimanded him, but said it was now clear clergy needed to hold other clergy and the church leadership – himself included – to account.

I don’t know if church leaders are capable of dealing with this properly. Praying amongst themselves doesn’t cut it.

Ageing bishops seem lout of touch with the damage this is doing their church. Their reluctance to publicly hold people to account leaves a further stain – are they trying to avoid responsibility for hiding and perpetuating past abuses?





Caution advised over Christmas, but a resolution is required

This is wise advice…

…but there is a risk of a chilling effect on harmless socialising.

While holding sexual nuisances, abusers and predators to account is long overdue, there are dangers.

Passing contact, pats on the shoulder, back, bum, could be misconstrued, or they could be an invasion of personal space, or could be sexual harassment.

Hugging has become a widespread practice – has it gone to far? Some people don’t like being hugged by workmates, acquaintances or people they hardly know or have just met.

Personally I’d prefer to limit hugs to people I know well and love.

How common is it for children to be coerced into hugging relatives when they are obviously uncomfortable with it?

It’s not just personal contact in which there can be problems, there is potential risk from online contact, from comments or from inappropriate posts.

Most contact passes as ok, inoffensive, or not worth making a fuss about.

Some contact  is unwelcome, uncomfortable.

A fraction of contact – too much and too often – is over the top, over the line, offensive, predatory and worse. This needs to be checked and dealt with.

But there are risks that accusations can be themselves used as harassment and abuse.

Innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental part of our justice system, but it is imperfect, especially when people with power and influence are guilty. Some of them have been long term recidivists.

The issue of personal and sexual abuse and harassment needs to be confronted and dealt with better by our society, but it is a difficult and complex issue.

It’s not just a US problem.

In New Zealand the very serious issue of abuse of children in state remains improperly dealt with.

In Australia the findings of a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just been released. It is damning, especially of the Catholic Church, which hid, aided and abetted abuse for a long time.

A number of people in power in churches, institutions, schools and sports clubs have acted disgracefully.

RNZ: Australia child abuse inquiry: ‘It is a national tragedy’

A five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia has released its final report, making more than 400 recommendations.

The royal commission heard evidence from thousands of victims. Allegations were made against more than 4000 institutions.

“The survivors are remarkable people with a common concern to do what they can to ensure that other children are not abused,” commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said on Thursday.

Many dirty secrets have been revealed and exposed.

RNZ: Pope responds to Oz sex abuse report

Pope Francis says the findings of Australia’s child sex abuse royal commission “deserve to be studied in depth”, after the Catholic Church was heavily criticised in the final report.

The sanctity of the religious confessional would be tossed aside and celibacy would become voluntary under the final recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which were released on Friday.

“The final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in Australia is the result of the accurate efforts made by the Commission in recent years and deserves to be studied in depth,” the Pope said in a statement online.

“The Holy See remains close to the Catholic Church in Australia – lay faithful, religious and clergy – as it listens and accompanies victims and survivors in an effort to bring healing and justice.”

Mild and vague words about a serious problem in the church. And there is resistance to change:

Archbishop Fisher was also quick to downplay any change to tradition.

“I think any proposal to effectively stop the practice of confession in Australia would be a real hurt to all Catholics and Orthodox Christians and I don’t think would help any young person,” he said.

Clinging to tradition and to power seems more important than exorcising a horrible record of abuse.

Priests and the church has seen itself as above the law. They put themselves second only to God, and acted as judge and jury.

And too often as the dirty offenders.

The royal commission report said the Catholic Church had demonstrated “catastrophic failures of leadership”, particularly before the 1990s.

The average age of abuse victims at Catholic institutions was 11 years old.

There’s no reason to doubt that there have been similar problems in New Zealand – in churches, in state care. There have been convictions of people from sports clubs, from cubs and scouts, even an ambulance officer has been convicted of abuse of patients in ambulances.

There are risks of inappropriate behaviour at Christmas parties, at New Year parties, in workplaces and homes and institutions.

There is always a risk of false or disproportionate accusations.

For a long time there have been far greater risks through inaction, through turning blind eyes, sweeping dirty secrets under carpets.

There will be some overreactions, but by far the biggest risk has been inaction, a failure by families, communities, authorities, societies to address these problems.

Smooching under the mistletoe is not really the problem. It’s what happens behind out of sight, behind closed doors where greater dangers lie.

We should still be able to have fun at parties, we should still enjoy one of the biggest social events of the year, Christmas. And New Year.

But a worthy resolution would be to find a way as fairly and effectively as possible to address the many dirty secrets of the past, and to enable healing, as much as is possible, of victims of abuse.

Pope no abortion, maybe to contraception over Zika

The Catholic Church and the Pope have strongly rejected abortion for women who have the Zika virus, but the  Pope has that avoiding pregnancy (using contraception) is ‘not an absolute evil’.

Crux (‘Covering all things Catholic’) reports Pope Francis signals openness to birth control for Zika virus.

In remarks to reporters on his way back to Rome from Mexico, the pope cited a decision by Pope Paul VI in the early 1960s to allow Catholic nuns in the Congo to take contraceptives to avoid pregnancy due to rape.

Avoiding a pregnancy under such circumstances, Francis said, “is not an absolute evil.” However, he did not say specifically that he would approve contraception in the fight against Zika.

Abortion is never the lesser evil, it’s a crime,” Francis said categorically. “It’s to discard one to save another one. It’s what Mafia does; it’s a crime, an absolute evil.”

Regarding the “lesser of two evils” when it comes to contraception, Francis said that it’s a fight between the 5th Commandment (Thou shalt not kill) and the 6th Commandment (Thou shalt not commit adultery). But he avoided giving a definitive response.

“Let’s not confuse the evil of ‘simply’ avoiding a pregnancy with abortion,” Francis said. “Abortion is not a theological problem, it’s a human, medical problem … a person is murdered to save another one, in the best of cases. In others, just to have fun.”

He called abortion an “absolute evil.”

While the current Pope has in some ways been a breath of fresh air in a stifling and stuff old world religious organisation openly supporting contraception as a protection is a modernisation too far.

The old fuddies are way out of touch on this.

Contraception is a major factor in limiting a world population explosion. It can also be an effective means of avoiding risky pregnancies.

I think it’s an absolute evil opposing and stigmatising abortion too. It’s a relic of religious patriarchy trying to control what individual women choose to do.

Contraception is widely used by many Catholics, with common sense overriding outmoded thinking.

And abortion is supported by Catholics outside the Vatican. From Wikipedia:

Abortion in Italy became legal in May 1978, when Italian women were allowed to terminate a pregnancy on request during the first 90 days. A proposal to repeal the law was considered in a 1981 national referendum, but was rejected by nearly 68% of voters; another referendum aimed at eliminating the restrictions was rejected by 88.4%.

About 80% of Italians identify as Catholic so this shows how out of touch the Vatican is with the real world around them, and how people just ignore their out of touch old rules.

One of the stupid things about the church’s stance is that sensible contraception reduces the demand for abortions.

While I prefer a minimum of abortions it’s not up to me. And in any case they can be a sensible decision.

It’s not uncommon for women to have abortions to improve the chances of having children in the best possible circumstances rather than in far from ideal circumstances.

Sure the ‘life’ aspect is something that needs to be considered, but more often than not it delays the creation of a new life.

In the modern world suppressing birth control is out of touch and irresponsible. It’s insidious victimising women as evil. It is no surprise that the Catholic rules are made by old men who never have to deal with pregnancy themselves and theoretically cut themselves off from having anything to do with procreation except for trying to impose their outdated ideas on others.