Pedophile priests make a mockery of confession

18 Jul

The Victorian inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse by religious groups poses this question in its submission guide: “To what extent should the reporting of suspicions of abuse be circumscribed by laws, customs and ethical codes of religions?”

Currently, the Catholic church regards confession as sacrosanct, and forbids its priests from revealing anything told to them during the performance of the confessional sacrament. Should an offending priest confess that he has raped and or sexually molested a child, his confessor is bound to keep his admission confidential. The priest escapes trial and punishment by the legal system, and is free to continue his criminal practices without fear of discovery and retribution.

No doubt the religious would argue that the mental and emotional anguish of facing the wrath of the sacred is far worse than anything incurred by facing the wrath of the profane. I can imagine suffering such self-inflicted spiritual torment, however my question is, why would anyone consider this punishment enough? Surely the offending priest must be made to face both his God and the wrath of the human world?

I’m reminded of the story of Jesus, who when asked if believers should pay taxes remarked “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God, that which is God’s.” In other words, if you are going to traffic in Caesar’s coin in order to obtain what to you are benefits of some kind, then of course you   must be prepared to pay  Caesar’s taxes. It isn’t too much of a stretch to understand this as advice  on how to deal with far more than taxes. For example, if you are going to indulge yourself in exploiting children for your sexual satisfaction then you must be prepared to accept the human and worldly consequences of your human and worldly activity. You must render unto Caesar’s law that to which the law of Caesar is entitled, as well as answering to your god.

But I’m no theologian, and no doubt someone will tell me I can’t make that extrapolation. To which I would respond, why not?

Quite what punishment is inflicted upon the sexual offender by his confessor remains unknown, also subject to confidentiality . His crimes and his punishments are gilded with the sanctity of the confessional, and he remains unaccountable to any human being.

The Catholic church places its own laws (laws it then ascribes to God) above all else. This is unsatisfactory from any number of perspectives, not least that it places Catholic criminals beyond the reach of the law of the land. As we can see from the sad history of the serial offenders, these men don’t stop raping and sodomizing children, even, presumably, after they’ve confessed their crimes, done whatever the Catholic church regards as adequate penance for their crimes, and accepted forgiveness. They continue to offend against children, and they do it for years and years and years. Confession and penance means less than nothing to them. They make a mockery of their own rituals.

Perhaps they don’t confess their crimes in the first place? We have no way of knowing.

The victims of the pedophile priests are completely ignored. There is no concern for them, no efforts to assist them or rescue them from further rape and exploitation, because under the seal of the confessional, the perpetrator must be completely protected. The perpetrator’s rights to confidential confession trump children’s rights to be safe from sexual attackers. In what universe is this acceptable?

Father Frank Brennan, so far the only prominent Catholic priest to have fronted up to the ABC 7.30 Report to discuss these matters, declared that he would go to jail before revealing anything told to him under the seal of the confessional. Well, let him. Let the jails fill up with priests who’ve raped children, and priests who have protected priests who raped children so that they can continue raping children. I can say with the authority of experience that a few months in jail for Father Brennan or any other priest is as nothing, compared to being a raped child.

Pedophile priests make a mockery of the sanctity of confession, and a mockery of their God. Every priest who protects them adds to this mockery.

If priests continue to choose to put the law of their church before the well-being of children in their care, then jail would seem to me a reasonable outcome. The offences are committed in the spiritual and the human sphere, yet punished only in the spiritual. This is not good enough. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. God is already getting more than his fair share.

68 Responses to “Pedophile priests make a mockery of confession”

  1. Rebecca July 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    The whole “forgiveness is divine” thing feeds into the abusive and sickening power games that pedophiles play too, and it gets worse in the Catholic Church. The idea that you should automatically forgive the perpetrator of any offence against you (turning the other cheek) means that those who are calling for justice, any justice, against abuse of power, trust, and bodily autonomy by those placed in positions of power and trust, is a failing.

    Children and adults who have been raped and sexually abused by priests, according to the Catholic Church, should forgive those who have raped and sexually abused them, because that’s what Jesus would do (apparently – he was rather silent on the whole rape thing).

    Requiring forgiveness from your victims on your terms (instead of theirs) isn’t a cool thing at all. If those who have been abused by the clergy choose to forgive (or not) those who abused them, then that is their choice, but should never be something that is demanded of them.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      I agree. To demand someone forgive is to abuse them all over again IMO


      • Jennifer Wilson July 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

        Apologies everyone, i really want to participate in this thread but have a shocking cold and must away to bed.


        • paul walter July 19, 2012 at 12:37 am #

          Bless you, Jennifer..


        • helvityni July 19, 2012 at 11:21 am #

          Jennifer, please go to bed, these rotten abusive priests are making me sick too…I feel like crawling back under my doona and staying there…
          I have just read, yes again, the same nasty posts on the Drum’s asylum seeker story, ugly bickering and name-calling on Ellis blog, someone writing under my name, my real name, on ABC…
          Pyne talking about education….bloody hell, how is the girl to cope….


  2. Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    (Copied from the Abbott Pell article)

    Here’s a taste of the Australian Broadcasting Catholicisms position.
    I say position because yet again we have a story going to the heart of the matter and no author name to this article.
    It smacks of ‘dodgy’, and it is happening way too often lately.

    Where is Jonathan Holmes?
    Tea with Rupert?

    Personally I actually agree with Brennan.
    If he chooses to sit on information to protect the sacrosanct nature of confessionals he should willingly do time.
    He is up for it,so let’s test it,now.

    As for his claim to being a human rights lawyer who places the perpetrator ABOVE the victim in law, and in God?

    What a monumental failure.
    He must surely be stripped of the title immediately.This is an outrage.

    I hope people are now getting a sense as to how ineffectual this enquiry will be.
    It is a scam.( and remember one where the NSW attorney had discussions with members of the main institution of the enquiry about the enquiries terms and conditions.
    Law? Justice? Hahahahaha.)


  3. Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    The question you quote as being posed in the submission was probably one which would not have even existed if the inappropriate discussions between those setting up the enquiry and those who are subject to it’s findings.Where are the outcries?
    If that in itself is not corrupt,I have no idea what dictionary these people use.
    This is an obstruction of justice YET AGAIN!

    It’s like asking Charles Manson at his trial which questions he would like asked.


  4. Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    (Also copied from over yonder)

    Wow,the Cathos really have a lot of nerve.
    The confessional is above the law?
    This position espoused by Brennan et al,almost negates a Royal Commission and trial by law, and it also allows all offenders to race off and confess to a priest,(or higher ranking) giving both a position of impunity.

    (Well that is a quality which Abbott will use in his willingness as well,no doubt.)

    AFAIK,given this insidious position as posited by Brennan and others (and he should immediately return his human rights lawyer status) if I should see a victim,or the family of a victim, taking the law into their own hands, and submitting any form of retribution to a paedophile,I feel it is my moral duty to turn away.
    This would be Gods will.
    (If I were an RC I could even get absolution by confessing.Bonus )
    This retribution aka payback, is a new development which yesterday I would not have entertained.But today,the church has sunken lower than any of the sinners they care to judge.
    Brennan has effectively claimed that no matter what the crime,he has a duty and right to cover it up.
    Would be serial killers and rapists take note.I wonder if we will now see a flood of new converts?

    What does this say about how the church feels about victims,both alive and now dead to the suicides which followed?Brennan is a disgrace as are any supporters of his position.


  5. Leftymatt July 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    The privilege of the confessional is odious in the extreme and the sooner it is abolished the better.

    To get an idea of what observant catholics think about on this issue, read this:

    Sure it’s American catholics venting about the issue as it applies in Ireland but it’s informative nonetheless.


    • Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      Have they launched the march of a million Catholics, or staged huge online campaigns,got worldwide petitions going,walked out of the church,saturated the airwaves,picketed churches written to the vatican?
      Vetoed the Pope?

      All I get is that there is a forum dodging and weaving like all good hypocrites do.

      Even this little gem.

      Veteran Member

      Join Date: November 22, 2005
      Posts: 9,918
      Religion: Catholic
      Default Re: Irish priests say they will disobey new confession box law on child abuse.
      They tried to pass a similar measure several months ago. I will repost what I posted then. All the priests have to do is to make sure that the penitent’s right to an anonymous confession is met. Then they can comply with the law thusly:

      Priest to police: I need to report that someone confessed to me that he or she had inappropriate contact with a child.

      Police: what is this abuser’s name?

      Priest: we don’t ask for names in the Confessional

      Police: was this one of your parishioners?

      Priest: I don’t know.

      Police: didn’t you recognize him?

      Priest: No

      Police: Can you give us a description?

      Priest: I only saw him through a screen.

      Police: well, when did the abuse happen?

      Priest: he didn’t say

      Police: when did the Confession happen?

      Priest: I hear Confessions every Saturday afternoon
      It seems they even discuss how a priest can weasel out of doing the right thing.Which is exactly what is likely to occur.A big heap of paedophile priests will likely take this opportunity to get absolution at a parish somewhere else, so as not to be duly identified.Meanwhile the suicide rate climbs.


      • Leftymatt July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

        It’s chilling stuff, no? For many of the Mary Worshippers at (and they’re by no means the most extreme on the ‘net) the child abuse scandal is simply a concoction of the “main stream media” designed to bring down the Mother Church.

        And of course they’re immunised against that by Christ’s promise that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

        Others accept that bad things have happened but believe it’s all vastly overrated and the Church has put things to rights.

        The very best you get is a sympathetic dismissal of child rape victims as people in need of “healing not vengeance” — which is all about them shutting up and sitting back down in the pews.

        Consider this thread:

        It’s about a man who bashed the priest who molested him years before and was subsequently acquitted of assault. It’s quite startling who the thread participants consider should be doing the repenting.

        How perfectly mysterious are the ways of the Lord.


  6. Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm #


    And by the way,please note just how few comments on the linked forum go to defending the child and speaking out against paedophile priests.

    Pretty much a forum playground for the Catholic Apologia.


    • Leftymatt July 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      It’s actually the foremost Catholic apologetics site on the net. It’s an apostolate of the Archdiocese of San Diego, meaning it has official Church sanction and oversight.

      I raise it here because for we godless unbelievers the reaction of the Church to this repulsive situation of child torture and abuse is perplexing in the extreme.

      Taking a peak into the world of the observant fish-eaters helps us get a bead on how they think and why they respond the way they do.


      • Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

        Perhaps the survivors of paedophilia should pencil in Easter as a good time to head to the church and get an Easter egg or two from father O’Really?

        I dare say that the levels of anger can only remain on simmer for so long before something has to give.
        It does not look like justice will be rearing its ugly head any time soon.


        • Leftymatt July 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

          Remember that for the faithful Christian (particularly the tykes) the torments of this world are temporary. Sure justice in this life is great but if one is true to the teachings of the Universal Magisterium then it doesn’t matter if you miss out since Revelations 21 tells that in Heaven, God “wipes away every tear”.

          And this is really twisted part of Christianity. The miseries of this life are largely irrelevant, all that matters is the promise of bliss in the next.


          • Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

            Well that’s true, so perhaps any victim who enacts revenge(should they wish to) has that to look forward to if they survive the torment already endured and festering.
            Why who knows, should such revenge see a victim charged, a magistrate may also be sympathetic to them, and wipe the slate, as in the post you linked to:

            “William Lynch, the 44-year-old California man who admitted he pummeled a Jesuit priest who he said abused him as a boy, has been found not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse charges.

            The jury of nine men and three women could not reach a verdict on a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault for the 2010 attack at a retirement home, deadlocking 8-4 to convict him.

            Lynch could have faced four years in jail if convicted on all the charges.



    • Darryl Adams July 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      What a lot of people ignore in this debate is the history.

      The Universal Church was created by Emperor Constantine as a tool for social cohesion in the Roman Empire. Head of the organisation was the Emperor (as God’s regent on earth, note that, it comes back), then Bishop of New Rome (Constantinople) then Pontifex Maximus, Bishop of Rome.

      With the fall of the Eastern Empire, and the split between the western and eastern church, the Pope and Church sees itself the inheritor or Empire. So it can legitimately (in its eyes) say it is above national laws. Only if Rome reforms, will there be a temporal leader above the pope, and as the Holy Roman Empire showed, if the Church wants to recreate the empire, it expects to be at the top or close to the top of the power structure.

      Confession used to be harder to get than it is now, because it was a great way to make money. This is one reason for the Reformation, because of the use of indulgences (prepaid forgiveness).

      However, the absolution of sin is absolute, as in once you confess your sins, and paid your pennance (which is today trivial), your sins are absolved.

      So what we have today is a plethora of sins defined by the church, and none beyond redemption. So masterbation and pedophilia are both sins, and no matter the harm it cause (one harmless if done privately, one destructive) you can be free of sin via the sacred rite of confession.

      The sexual side of things like chaste and celibrate priesthood evolved over time and was not universally observed until recently. In fact you can still be a married priest if you convert from Church of England. And coupled with 2000 years of rewriting, overanalysing and ignoring scripture, some of the dictates in regards of sex can not be justified. And part of the celibracy has to be due to feudal inheritance laws, where younger brothers where given parrell power in the church and removing them from land and temporal power.


      • Leftymatt July 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

        It’s important to note that both masturbation and child rape can rise to the level of mortal sin, not just sin.

        Christianity from its earliest days has fetishised chastity. Saul of Tarsus loathed the earthly body and for the first 150 or so years Christians tormented themselves over the purpose of sex.

        Was all sex sinful and to be avoided or was it acceptable under certain circumstances?

        Clement of Alexandria was primarily responsible for resolving this question for believers around the end of the first century CE by defining sex as immoral except when used for procreative purposes within a monogamous heterosexual relationship blessed by the Church.

        Outside of this appallingly and wantonly unnatural definition any sexual conduct was fatally sinful.


      • Jennifer Wilson July 18, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

        Thus, as you noted in your tweet, confession trivialises sins and crimes. All that is required for redemption is confession and the token penance. This is magic and superstition, bears no relation to the human experience of being perpetrator or victim of crime.


  7. Russell July 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Too right Dr Wilson. Thank you for putting words around it and describing it. I have always been perplexed as to how a priest hearing a confession of murder is not required to disclose. All those mafia for example, going to church every Sunday seeking and being given forgiveness! And going out and doing it again. And being forgiven again. Preposterous.
    Rape of a child is akin to murder, imo, it could be argued worse. What mortal has the right to forgive and give absolution to a common criminal who continues to commit heinous crime? Let the priest who stands for his Vatican given right to not disclose, be required to spend serious time in a material prison. If he had heard of heinous crime and not allowed for mortal law, how can he deign to administer spiritual law?
    The church in practice is a powerful and rabid lawbreaker. Equality before the law? Except if one is protected by the church. Then one can clearly live life above the law, even to take a life.
    The spirituality of the church is demeaned by the practice of mortals who interpret the church. It is to be hoped the law of the land can catch up and curtail a law of the church that forgives and condones, by its actions, the continuity of heinous crime.
    Vicarious liability surely means the priest is also guilty of the sin and the breach of criminal law. What of those murdered or raped after a previous forgiveness and absolving of the perpetrator? Who is responsible for that? What contributory negligence of the priest? There is nothing holy about such a priest but something all too mortal. Civilized law should prevail. Until then we witness an unholy alliance between man and man, allegedly at the behest of a God. Every day.
    The church rules through fear and has people in high places scared by a threatened yanking of the spiritual short and curlies. What hope for changes to the criminal law to require priestly disclosure, just as is required for any other professional vocation?
    Not much.
    Thanks again for the article.


    • Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      And that is a good segue.
      Does the parliament/judiciary REALLY have a separation from the church?
      Really?How can that be?Do they ignore faith when making any decisions(this question keeps recurring,here and elsewhere)

      As for the media (all) being immune from religious doctrines in its bias,don’t bother going there….


  8. doug quixote July 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Any intelligent priest will go to confess his sins to another like-minded priest. If priests hear confessions of pedophilia and do nothing to report the matter to civil authorities then the confessors ought to go to gaol as well. They may well be fellow pedophiles.

    As Al Capone was brought to book for tax evasion, so should the priests for failing to reveal the secrets of the confessional.

    I heartily agree with Jennifer.


  9. Mindy July 18, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    Yep chuck the lot of them in gaol. They can adhere to their principles of the sanctity of the confessional in there if they want to but the flipside is they stay in there.


  10. Di Pearton July 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    The trouble is that the Catholic Church demands total loyalty and those that stand up to it are ostracized, so that Catholic police/judiciary/government ministers will all comply to protect the church and the paedophile priests. They do all this whilst also firmly believing themselves to be morally superior to people of other religions, including other Christians, atheists and humanists, and clearly, their victims.
    I am no authority on Jesus, but my scant knowledge of his teachings screams at me that this is so wrong as to be beyond belief, beyond belief.


  11. annodyne July 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    ‘render unto Caesar’ ? the Church of Rome does not even render unto the ATO.
    They are exempt from all rates and land taxes on the immense real estate they occupy, because, ridiculously, they have been designated ‘for the community benefit’.

    ‘punishment’ ? say 3 zillion Hail Marys and you’re right to continue, absolved.

    If you can be fussed to, please wander over to this blogpost on the topic, which contains a link to The Irish Times, which outraged more illustrious bloggers than me (aka Bwca)


  12. annodyne July 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    apologies for that Irish Times link of 2009 which is now behind a paywall. Please try Professor Norm*Geras, voted London’s No 1 Blogger NormBlog for his articulate take on catholic denial


  13. hudsongodfrey July 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    I agree with the sentiment. I’m less convinced that being able to counter the confessional confidentiality would represent any kind of meaningful victory.

    I can see the service that is offered by confessor priests being somewhat analogous to medical practitioners or lawyers in the sense that confidentiality is normally understood to be granted, but pursuant to serious crimes warrants can be obtained forcing those doctors and lawyers to comply. In that regard it is more or less believed that a social good flows from maintaining a certain level of confidentiality so that people can avail themselves of a needed service in privacy. If privacy wasn’t maintained then contraception would probably be rarer leading to many more unplanned pregnancies whereas STD’s would probably be rampant, and legal recourse would be made a mockery of. There’s a similarity in that I tend to think if they knew this sin was not covered by the veil of confidentiality but would be treated as a serious crime then no pederast is ever likely to confess it.

    If such a law were introduced for retrospective cases I think that the clergy would quite possibly do as many a hostile witness has in the past. They’d come down with a severe case of selective amnesia.

    And I guess that any kind of coerced confession has to be treated as what the US legal system calls “fruit of a poisoned tree”. If they did reveal a covered up case of abuse, priests would be so keen to deflect critique of their own complicity in harbouring abusers that they would inevitably tend to play down what they knew or deflect blame by giving a skewed impression of events at best. So that without strong supporting evidence from elsewhere then prosecution based on information extracted under confessional warrants would probably falter.

    Anyway those are my reservations.

    Can we hope that most priests are inclined to comply with endeavours to weed out the offenders in their midst even without breaking the “seal” of the confessional? Can confessors insist that penance for abusers should be to turn themselves in or to submit to further “unsealed” counselling and accept the consequences? One would hope that they could and that they would. Certainly at some point there has to be a difference between a priest offering forgiveness to offenders and expecting their victims to do likewise?


    • Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      I certainly admire your patience and optimism HG.Remind me to go halves in a lotto ticket with you some time.


      • hudsongodfrey July 19, 2012 at 9:33 am #

        I wish it was patience and optimism. I’m just commenting because once this confessional seal idea cropped up it just made me realise how little optimism I think we can have for enquiries into these matters given what I know of the way that these people think. Once you allow that the supernatural supersedes everything then it’s just going to be get out clauses and obfuscation the whole way down.


    • Jennifer Wilson July 20, 2012 at 6:50 am #

      Yes, I agree with your reservations, HG. I also think confidentiality is essential. Having worked in an industry for many years where I was bound to both confidentiality and mandatory reporting, I can attest that it’s not an easy position to be in. However, in the case of catholic confession I ask myself, what has the confessor done to get help for the child abuser or the abused child, and what has the confessor done to prevent further crimes? The answer is nothing. The confessor has become an enabler and co-conspirator. A therapist is in a very similar situation to the confessor, though we don’t presume to offer absolution. Mandatory reporting took a burden from our shoulders IMO. We are not required to break confidentiality about anything else.

      I think a great deal can be done to improve the confession situation, without destroying its purpose. It’s a matter of will, and the church seems to be sadly lacking in that, insisting on the sacred nature of the rite while completely ignoring the reality which is that no matter how many confessions pedophile priests make, they do not stop their practices. I’m not suggesting we throw the baby out with the bath water – I subscribe strongly to the usefulness and healing power of anyone being able to speak to a priest or any professional, confident that they can unburden themselves in circumstances that will remain entirely private. A line must be drawn, however, to protect others, and especially children.


      • hudsongodfrey July 20, 2012 at 10:14 am #

        Yes Jennifer,
        as usual you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say that the difference between confessors and psychologists is that the latter don’t presume to give absolution. This is the area I’m most critical of in that I think the church tends to think spiritual forgiveness capable of fixing a broken mind. Which is what some experts say that paedophiles have. And that to cover it up out of embarrassment, in the face of guilt by association tarnishing the church’s reputation, while a molester is free to walk among us is in my view more than unconscionable, it is a crime in itself.

        However I also tried to write in a way that encapsulated the problem more completely than that because I can see that some of what we’d like to unravel retrospectively is going to be more that a little difficult. Many people might like to see these ecclesiastical pariahs brought before the courts and made to squirm. But it involves a decent portion of risk to victims who even if they don’t participate stand a risk of being sorely disappointed. I think we have to be careful for the victims’ sake not to follow a process that could precipitate consequences for their mental health or even physical well-being that have been known in the past for others to be… well you can’t get more severe than suicide.

        Finally, though I do hope that they’ll voluntarily change their methods of dealing with child abuse, the problem with the church is the people in it and the latitude that they’ve been given to place their beliefs on a plane that excepts itself from reasonable criticism. It allows them to make self serving interpretations of their faith that speak to good intentions and consequences in the afterlife rather than the more scientifically based likelihood that the misdeeds of child abusers while still criminal acts are also part of the mental pathology of a person who finds gratification in abusing others.

        To say the church has always had a lousy relationship with science and reason is to state the blatantly obvious where the merely obvious would suffice. But I think that they have a moral duty to err on the side of victims here, and I hope they’ll accept it, because I’m not sure what we could do to effectively force it upon them.

        Anyway I hope you’re feeling better already and that a weekend’s rest improves your health.


        • Hypocritophobe July 20, 2012 at 11:04 am #

          This is how I sum it.
          The ‘church’ is accountable to no-one but a fictional concept,and a loyalty to the brand.
          It is ghouls protecting ghouls and fed by the gullible flock to continue till infinity.
          They have no more right to tax breaks or leg ups than members of a bikie gang claiming to be a sporting club for worshippers of the great deity of Harley.
          They (church) should ONLY be able to claim on their charitable acts and that’s where it ends.
          Otherwise taxpayers are essentially sponsoring paedophiles and paedophile cover ups.

          There is no way a minority cult of any kind should influence policy or dodge the responsibility of state and federal laws.
          If the government in any form allows this loophole to exist we have torn up our constitution, and need to write a new one.

          This issue will be heading to the high court sooner rather than later,IMO.


          • hudsongodfrey July 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

            Yes Hypo, but you get almost the same kinds of entanglements with draconian bikie laws as you do with making the church or any other kind of closed society conform to your will. Even if you’re able to assume that the will of those wielding legal power is always going to be somehow morally irreproachable then you have to get members of the gangs that you’re keen to indict to break their codes of silence without resorting to the kinds of measures that will only extract more lies, scapegoats and cover ups.

            And creating a persecution complex in a cult that believes in sacrifice might tend to backfire in the worst possible way. Should priests who take the hit for pederasty be seen internally as having sacrificed themselves to protect others then those others may tend to honour the sacrifice by closing ranks.

            Taken to its logical conclusion you can’t get rid of religion by outlawing it. We know what a long history the churches have of priding themselves for having endured persecution.

            The only solution is to convince them to do the right thing by persuading them that offenders will be pathologically unable to resist re-offending, and that should they be found to be protected by the church then that is when there can and should be legal consequences.


            • doug quixote July 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

              Why do you always have to be so reasonable? just when I am tempted to agree with Hypo, I read your post . . .

              O, Hypo, if only the law, and the Constitution in particular, could do what we would like it to do.

              HG is practical and right as usual; Jennifer’s recent posts are on a different tangent, but the results are equally sensible and indeed the best we can hope for.

              Hypo is such an idealist . . .


              • hudsongodfrey July 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

                Well you know Doug, I didn’t actually gainsay Hypo on everything.

                If I were to characterise the relationship between church and state in terms or their facebook statuses then I think they’d have “It’s complicated” whereas we’d be the friends telling her to dump him and move on.


              • Anonymous July 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

                Oh dear DQ if I could do idealism as well as you do sarcasm I would be a Diety to the masses,myself.


                • Hypocritophobe July 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

                  (That Green Avatar was me DQ)


                  • doug quixote July 21, 2012 at 8:03 am #

                    And very pretty it is too. (Now that is sarcasm!)

                    No, no sarcasm intended. HG is just so utterly reasonable. After reading one of his posts it is hard to find general disagreement, so the determined adversary is left with picking at minor points of difference. He even wears out the trolls!

                    And you are an idealist Hypo. ‘Love me, love my dog’ as the saying goes 🙂


            • Hypocritophobe July 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

              Them poor motor bike riders are being ostracized.How draconian.
              Fancy bringing justice to a criminal activity.
              Our judiciary needs to be given the tools to protect us from harm.
              More importantly our government needs to be willing to act accordingly, to make it happen.
              If the fear of ‘it will just go underground’ licenses inaction,then why would we fear outside terrorism,when we have a local brand simmering away?
              There would be a lot more victims of child abuse alive today if it were not for pedophiles within religious institutions, and a culture of covering it up.
              There would be a lot more people alive and a lot less lives wrecked without an expansion of the scourge of amphetamines.(let’s not be so naiave to ignore who ‘dabble’ in its distribution.)
              It’s only half a step between inaction and apathy,when it comes to dealing with the hard bits of fundamental justice.
              Which to choose idealism,or apathy?(Remembering of course this is the land of dichotomies.Even the single most prolific indigenous perennial vegetation-(pre invasion)-is a dichotylydon at birth.)
              Isn’t apathy knowing the problem exists and either ignoring it,or making excuses about why it’s all too hard?
              I think one thing is becoming clearer each day.Apathy is definitely our biggest impedement(aka problem) Maybe idelaism insulates me from it.
              I guess you get that, on big jobs.


              • Hypocritophobe July 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

                Speaking of big jobs,and being ostracised.



              • hudsongodfrey July 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm #


                I agree up to a point but there’s always that tipping point beyond which you have to ask who’s watching the watchers.

                Nor do I think it simply follows that even if we could trust government with all of the power it would like to accrue unto itself that this is a better way to protect people than can be obtained though having a populace well equipped with the knowledge to avoid trouble on their own behalf.

                As you can clearly see I’m not for playing the dichotomy game, sometimes you just have to look at the results and decide what works.

                Anyone these days knows that the war of drugs is lost and the sooner we realise that gaoling people for possession is bullshit then the better off we’ll all be. I take the view that it needs to be dealt with as a medical problem the same way that smoking and to some extent alcohol have been successfully reduced.

                The point I’d make is that it is no more justice to penalise users of drugs, for activity that above all else primarily harms themselves, than it is to create laws against freedom of association that we countenance with a wink and a nod because they’ll ostensibly be applied to someone else. It isn’t all that different from the double standard we’re creating around asylum seekers who happened to have the rotten luck to be born in a part of the world that rejects them for superficial cultural or political reasons.

                We make laws that require police to get warrants and demonstrate probable cause before they act because to rely too much upon their discretion is unwise given the history of police corruption we have already witnessed. If that makes it less convenient to arrest members of outlaw motorcycle clubs then I sympathise. I wouldn’t want to be a cop. Some of the people I’ve encountered who they’re required to deal with would evoke a desire for preventative euthanasia. But I think we all know that these baser urges only wind up putting us on different sides of a battle that drags us down to their level.

                So if there’s a limit to what we can do within the law then perhaps we need to be reminded that there’s a lot that we can achieve by becoming culturally more lawful and less tolerant of bad behaviour without having some “zero tolerance” regimen forced upon us. Idealistic maybe? But so is wanting action on climate change or international co-operation around matters of global economics, population, health, education, food, water and justice. We can’t have it all but at the same time I think we have to realise that if we don’t have at least SOME of it then we’re probably fucked.


                • Hypocritophobe July 21, 2012 at 8:07 am #

                  If decriminalising saves lives then it’s a gimme to travel that road.
                  Meantime we need to make sure that those who fuel the trade which fuels the violence which destroys lives should be availed the laws we currently have.
                  I’m talking criminals here,not pussies on pushbikes.
                  And as for the paedophiles in the church,until someone independent returns from catholic hell or purgatory with a postcard and snowball souvenir, or JC parachutes into the Mardi gras in Spandex zebra print leotards, they should be subject to ALL our current laws,and in full.With not one single millisecond of delay.
                  And for both subjects at hand, if people want to clam up, good let them do time till they find a voice.Just MHO.

                  As for the other issues at the base of your response,which need tackling,I’m with you.But to put the idealism on the shelf for a moment,unless and until the heavily over-populated elephants in the room get spotted and discussed,as a species we are not fucked yet,but we can hit the actual date on the head with a moderately long stick, and by leaning slightly forward..


                  • hudsongodfrey July 21, 2012 at 10:21 am #


                    You sound angry and I hope not on my account, because although we’re united in wanting most of the same results to happen I just don’t think force can or will prevail to improve things very much.

                    If we can leave the sidebar about drug dealing and decriminalisation to one side and meander back to the issues around child abuse; what I actually deduced was that we probably can create a legal framework for how to proceed in the future by penalising church cover ups. I just don’t think we can make it retrospective and I’ve stated some clear reasons that I think are compelling as to why it would backfire if we tried.

                    Another thing I have also put earlier was that we really ought to do more to direct the compensatory process to go through the legal system and NOT through the church’s processes that they are controlling to resolve matters in their favour.

                    I’d add that I see no reason why some of those processes can’t be settled out of court if that’s what the victims want, as long as mechanisms to ensure the community’s protection from abusers are also adequately served. I think I’d rather see some pederasts granted the opportunity to self declare themselves as “at risk” of offending without being forced into making specific admissions that might lead to convictions if it serves to avail them of whatever treatment or counselling programs are available and to provide a layer of protection for the community.

                    We may differ on that point, but what I’m trying to highlight is that despite what I have seen I have come to realise that this can be about justice and protection rather than just revenge.

                    If I had to give a name to my appeals for social change then it would be something more like social cohesion than utopian idealism. There are clearly many battles that aren’t going to be won by dent of force but rather by changing attitudes.

                    At the margins there are questions as to whether we make minor crimes a matter of enforcement in a way that seems to say to some people if you can get away with it when you know that you won’t get caught then it might be okay. I see these margins as eroded and some of the attempts at enforcement as actively corrosive of our ability to self regulate even the most basic of civil behaviours.

                    My lived experience of society’s where this behaviour is simply unthinkable because people have a higher level of interpersonal or civic respect tells me quite unequivocally what we have lost and should determine to reclaim.


                    • Hypocritophobe July 21, 2012 at 10:42 am #

                      Perhaps it’s time to think outside the square?
                      Maybe our friends in leather can convince the ones in frocks to do the right thing?
                      After all if they end up knocking out number plates together,it can only end in tears.


                    • hudsongodfrey July 21, 2012 at 11:20 am #

                      The metal picture of a scene from a prison shower block is worth a smile to say the least. Tears before bedtime takes on a whole new meaning.


      • Attend July 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm #


        “In Australia (as in the UK and New Zealand but not in Eire) there is no strongly recognised privilege for priests or penitents in common law. Statute law provides protection in particular circumstances. The Commonwealth Evidence Act and New South Wales Evidence Act provide that a member of the clergy may refuse to divulge a religious confession to a federal, ACT or NSW court. As discussed below, that is not the case in other Australian jurisdictions.”

        While this is not the same as a mandatory requirement to report, it means that no exemption exists in most jurisdications should testimony be required.


  14. ann odyne July 18, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    wishing you a swift recovery JW.
    dimetapp are worth the $20 if taken assiduously reduces the 10 days to 7 (just recovered myself). Why! are cloth handkerchiefs not required by law when sneezing in public? (- no point in me wishing a pox on the germ spreaders, ha ha) X X


  15. Hypocritophobe July 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    JW Review the blog for my link to the Dorothy Hall bomb,herbal fix.I know it;s witchcraft,but this potion works.And so does liquid echinacea,12 drops twice a day during peak symptoms.Rest up…


    • Jennifer Wilson July 20, 2012 at 6:52 am #

      At times like this, I am a believer in witchcraft, Hypo.


      • hudsongodfrey July 21, 2012 at 11:29 am #

        Round about the cauldron go;
        In the poison’d entrails throw.
        Toad, that under cold stone
        Days and nights has thirty-one
        Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
        Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

        Double, double toil and trouble;
        Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

        Fillet of a fenny snake,
        In the cauldron boil and bake;
        Eye of newt and toe of frog,
        Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
        Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
        Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
        For a charm of powerful trouble,
        Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

        Double, double toil and trouble;
        Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

        Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
        Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
        Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
        Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
        Liver of blaspheming Jew,
        Gall of goat, and slips of yew
        Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
        Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
        Finger of birth-strangled babe
        Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
        Make the gruel thick and slab:
        Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
        For the ingredients of our cauldron.

        Double, double toil and trouble;
        Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

        Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
        Then the charm is firm and good.


        There you go cures your cold and makes you ruler of Scotland in one fell swoop!


        • Hypocritophobe July 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

          I heard the same thing in Latin when they swore it the Rat Slinger.
          Don’t think he’s had a sniffle since.


          • hudsongodfrey July 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

            Yes I should have added that side effect include megalomania, extreme paranoia and susceptibility to other psychopathic tendencies.


        • Jennifer Wilson July 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

          Yes, but at what cost!!!!
          I’m not sure about the gall of goat…
          But I do feel a lot better today. 😉


          • hudsongodfrey July 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

            I was working out who in Canberra to refer you to if you’d asked after a source of Dragon Scales. Julie Bishop was beating out Mirabella by a short half head.


            • Hypocritophobe July 21, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

              Bronwyn Bishop will have your guts for garters HG for bypassing her scales.


              • hudsongodfrey July 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

                I imagined her stirring the pot.


  16. Hypocritophobe July 19, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Here is the RCs being themselves in politics.You can expect the same during the federal election targeting whichever party they see as threatening ‘their man’ Tony Abbort.

    Oh my they are such fine upstanding folk.


  17. robert landbeck July 20, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    The pedophile priest scandal affecting the roman catholic church and others besides, makes a mockery of the entire ‘moral construct’ which the ‘church’ declares to be of God.
    Either there is no God or two thousand years of religious history are a theological fraud. I’ve already made my choice!


    • Edwin Sandy August 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

      I feel sick when someone mentions the word “Priest”. I see Government officials and those pedophiles skipping down the road together. These two organizations worked together to steal Billions from First Nations people for centuries. When politics and religion are combined molestation, rape, murder, theft, and a whole mess of crap is alot easier to digest for them, and a hole lot easier for the rest of the population aswel. The Government was smart to do it the way that they did. They wanted to make sure that Native people wouldn’t be viewed as good people. they made sure of that. Check out “Kevin Annetts Unrepentant:Kevin Annett and Canada’s Genocide. It made me sick at what they did to Native children. How could society let them get a way with crimes like that?


  18. Hypocritophobe July 21, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    The quality of religious gob shites continues to raise the bar;


  19. Hypocritophobe July 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    I will park this here for now. JW might move it to the correct venue,which may be a whole new discussion?


  20. Hypocritophobe July 26, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    “Every which way,but loose…”


  21. Hypocritophobe August 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    More suffering at the hands of state and religion.

    The broken people resulting from this campaign,have damaged children,grandchildren and great children,so dispossessed,crushed and heart broken, crime is one option they take.
    Of course it merely passed off as ‘abo crime-waves’.

    Go figure.
    How shallow is this Nation?


  22. Hypocritophobe October 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    The oft repeated pattern of, other sex abuse cases and paedophile stories popping up at the ABC whenever the blowtorch is turned directly on the RC church is becoming much too predictable.
    Whilst, yet again, institutionalised sloth and evasion seems to be the order of the day with this Claytons investigation,up pops these two articles.

    These cases .Are they unacceptable yes.
    Is it coincidental these stories get a run NOW?
    I doubt it.
    (This investigation almost appears set to fail directly or run out of puff through several means)
    We need a Royal Commission now before no trace of crime remains and more victims suffer or die and their families are sentenced to lives of pain and misery.
    It seems the church has learnt nothing.And if the status quo remains on this flaccid enquiry, two state governments will become inextricably permanently aligned with inaction, and rightfully be accused by victims and families of being part of the problem.
    (This is not a critique of the committee members,but of the concept of such an impotent process)
    I can still hear the sound of shredders.



  1. Should priests retain the right to Confidentiality ? | Aussie Criminals and CrooksAussie Criminals and Crooks - July 19, 2012

    […] Pedophile priests make a mockery of confession ( […]


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