Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Action against sexual offenders too slow

Priest (Fr. Tom Brennan) dies facing sex crime cover-up charges

I refuse to accept the line spun in this story by the Catholic traditionalists that Fr. Brennan is "being judged in another place". That is simply not good enough. After all, if Divine Justice (if it exists at all) were to be regarded as adequate, why do we have Police Forces, and Courts and Prisons?

Lets get real, folks. These crimes are real crimes - against children.

Lets remember that it is more than 30 years since these matters were first raised with Fr. Brennan. His initial response was to beat with a cane the children who dared to report the offences to him. Talk about punishing the victims.

The Church has known about these issues for decades, and now we are being asked for "respect, sensitivity and compassion". It is not good enough, Fr. Tunks. The Catholic Church must accept corporate responsibility for its failures in this and many, many other cases. Cardinal Pell, (who has his own history with regard to "supporting" paedophile priests) ought be forced to use his position as the Prelate of Australia, and show leadership - by bringing all known cases into the light.
Cardinal Pell, (then Bishop of Ballarat)
supported known sex offenders such as Fr Gerald Ridsdale.

Priest dies facing sex crime cover-up charges. (Read the full story)

  • Newcastle Vicar General Barry Tunks asked the community for ‘‘respect, sensitivity and compassion’’ yesterday after the death of controversial Catholic priest Tom Brennan.
  • Father Brennan’s death came only days after a Newcastle magistrate was told the priest was too ill to attend court on two concealing crime charges, and eight charges of sexually assaulting a boy, 8, at Waratah in the 1980s. He was also charged with assaulting two boys by caning them in the 1970s for reporting a priest had sexually assaulted them.
  • The priest died of cancer at Hunter Valley Private Hospital at 5.15pm on Sunday after making history in August as the first Australian clergy member to be charged with concealing the child sex crimes of a notorious paedophile priest. (DJW notes: a different person from Fr. Brennan)
  • Strikeforce Georgiana Detective Sergeant Kristi Faber alleged the notorious paedophile priest  sexually assaulted 31 boys after Father Brennan, a former principal of St Pius X, Adamstown, was first warned of the offences in 1978.
  • A Hunter man named Tom, who overcame Father Brennan’s false statement in 2000 to record the first successful action by a victim against the notorious priest, said Father Brennan ‘‘wasn’t big enough’’ to admit he had been repeatedly told about the paedophile priest in the 1970s.
Personal Disclaimer: Fr. Barry Tunks was a class-mate of one of my brothers, and I knew him vaguely when I was a young Seminarian myself, back in the 1960s.

1 comment:

Brigid said...

I recently wrote to Judy Courtin who is doing research in this area and occasional articles by her are published in The Age. My letter is as follows:

Dear Judy,

I read your work on the matter of child abuse within the Catholic Church with interest and commend the work you are doing.

I write as a concerned bystander with two thoughts that keep running through my mind:

1. Can the Catholic Church be told that not reporting child abuse and abusers to the police is akin to not reporting a murder? The abusers have committed murder no less than someone who takes away a human's last breath. They have murdered the spirit and the psyche of a child which, except in exceptional cases, will never be repaired. Significant numbers of Catholics - religious and lay - are protecting or have protected the abusers, and are therefore complicit in their crimes. Child sexual abuse is the sort of crime about which Jesus said (Matthew 18:6): But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

2. I also wonder what Catholics in the pews are doing about this. I have not seen any press reports which give indication of Catholic response in the pews at parish level. What is the response of the people in the pews? We heard that in the USA people stayed away from Mass in droves - along with their giving. The media reported that this was of concern to the Vatican because of the extent of giving in rich America. I hear that in Ireland, it is now only little old ladies who attend Mass. From what I can make out, this is of even greater concern to the Vatican - that Catholic Ireland should reach such a state. And I have heard that privileges held constitutionally by the Catholic Church in Ireland have now been removed from the Irish Constitution. I ask: if Catholic mass attendance in Australia, particularly in Victoria, shows no sign of impact due to child sexual abuse what is different about Australian Catholics from their American and Irish counterparts? If there is no impact, why are Australian Catholics noticeably unresponsive?Sixty years ago in Victoria there was a bitter split in the Catholic community over politics. People took sides in a way which remains evident to-day. People vilified one another. That for Catholic politics. What for Catholic children?

Brigid O'Carroll Walsh