Perpetrators and enablers. Abbott’s deafening silence.

28 May

Catholic church

 

Watching convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale give evidence at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse yesterday was not easy, yet his appearance emphasised, as I believe is the Commission’s intention, the reality that his crimes did not take place in a vacuum. They were perpetrated within a community, and others in Ridsdale’s community knew of them, though the offender is unclear as to how many knew what, and how much. It might be more accurate to note that it is unclear how many members of Ridsdale’s community are prepared to admit what they knew or suspected. However, it seems that his crimes were known by at least one of his superiors, who did absolutely nothing to help either Ridsdale or his victims and who bears a terrible responsibility for the suffering of hundreds of children over decades because of his lack of intervention.

Revealing his own connection with Ridsdale on Radio National Breakfast, journalist Paul Bongiornio noted that pedophiles are extremely good at hiding their activities, and hardly likely to boast about them. He made a comparison with a partner who carries on daily life with his or her spouse whilst conducting an affair: the spouse can be completely unaware of the betrayal, even while living in an intimate relationship. It’s not surprising, then, that those who like Bongiornio shared a house and a community with Ridsdale had no idea of the man’s predilections, and the extent to which he was acting them out.

It was, I have to admit, a comparison that hadn’t occurred to me but on reflection I see that the two activities have much in common: secrecy, the thrill of the illicit, the ability to behave in a profoundly duplicitous manner, the talent to present one face to those closest, whilst concealing from them powerful and secret sexual desires and acts. Obviously there are also differences, but to take Bongiornio’s point, people are infinitely capable of constructing and living double lives, and it has become a cliché to exclaim, when the next door neighbour is found to have dead bodies buried in the cellar, oh, he seemed like such a nice quiet man.

What is incontestable is that senior members of the Catholic church worldwide knew of the activities of their pedophile priests and did nothing to help and protect the victims, or to assist their profoundly disturbed clergy. They enabled priests. They created the conditions in which it was possible for the priests to continue to abuse and destroy lives.

As I watched Ridsdale I thought, this didn’t have to happen. All the hundreds of children he abused did not have to suffer, for the rest of their lives, his appalling attacks and their ongoing aftermath. Multiply that by how many thousands globally who also did not have to suffer if only, if only those who knew about the pedophile priests had not enabled them, and created the climate in which they could continue wreaking their awful havoc on the young.

It isn’t possible to overestimate the guilt and responsibility of the enablers. I have no sympathy for Ridsdale, but I did think as I watched this man, now in his eighties, attempt to give an accounting of himself to the Royal Commission, that he did deserve assistance from his superiors as far back as the nineteen sixties when his crimes first were brought to their attention. They owed him guidance, advice, treatment, and even prosecution for his crimes against children. Instead, they let him loose, shunting him from parish to parish, an out-of-control pedophile with a mind so deranged and distorted he thought his desire for “closeness” was appropriately expressed and gratified by terrifying and damaging the young in his care.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott remarked yesterday, in connection with those who leave Australia to fight in foreign wars and will lose citizenship as a consequence of their choices, that “A crime is a crime is a crime.” I continue to be astounded on a daily basis that the Prime Minister remains so uncharacteristically silent on the crimes committed by pedophile priests and the superiors who enabled them. Abbott is a staunch Catholic, and a great friend of Cardinal George Pell, who was also Abbott’s confessor. Surely the Prime Minister, who has such enviable clarity on the nature of crime, ought to be passing some comment on the crimes committed by pedophile priest and their enablers on such a massive scale over so many decades? Were Abbott not so outspoken on practically every other crime that comes to public attention, his silence on this one would seem unremarkable, however, we have come to expect his moral opinion on just about everything of note, bar the criminal priests and their enablers within his own church.

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56 Responses to “Perpetrators and enablers. Abbott’s deafening silence.”

  1. Jo Tamar May 28, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Hear, hear.

    Or rather, not hearing, not hearing …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. townsvilleblog May 28, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    In my humble opinion all who commit this crime should be locked away at one of Australias’ disused detention centres for life, as the damage they do to their victims is for life. The victims have trouble throughout their lives and it simply is not a fair go to jail them for short periods and then allow them back into our community to recommit the crime and ruin yet another child’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson May 28, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

      I agree with you that the offenders should be kept away from children.

      Like

      • townsvilleblog May 29, 2015 at 11:35 am #

        for good, I know a young lady who was interfered with by her grandfather from age 6 till 14 and she is still in turmoil at 46 years of age. Her grandfather is long dead but what he did to her is still wreaks havoc with her mind each and every day, its pathetic that he did not pay for his crime. If I could crawl into his plot and dig him up and give him a good thrashing I would.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. doug quixote May 28, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    Of course Abbott is silent. This is a lose-lose for him.

    But he should be quizzed about it whenever possible. His Big Lie tactics and his insufferable negativity over several years make him very fair game.

    I wouldn’t say he was a “friend” of Pell’s; I am sure that Pell sees himself as a very superior being, certainly Pope material. Abbott is more like a protege. I imagine Pell is disappointed that Abbott could not stop the Royal Commission.

    He will give evidence in person “if necessary” – the if necessary is the exasperation of a great and noble figure sadly disappointed that anyone would seek to question His Church.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. hudsongodfrey May 28, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

    I think what a lot of people don’t quite get about this is that it probably isn’t going to come down to what Pell did or didn’t know about Ridsdale. If he did know and it can be proven he covered it up then that’ll look awfully bad, of course, even if I couldn’t tell you for certain whether any law applies retrospectively to that.

    Victims of this kind of sexual abuse reportedly lack the confidence to come forward until often much later. I imagine what was known at one point in time, if it was ever generally believed within clerical circles to have been minor and less widespread, would over the years have ballooned into full blown realisation as more and more victims came forward. It seems plausible on that basis that the first covering up of an accusation against a fellow priest was the catalyst whereby their superiors became complicit. After that it would’ve been just a slippery slope for the likes of Pell in the roles he later occupied.

    The churches’ money man still seeks to distance and shield himself and his beloved institution from failures over an extended period of concealment and obfuscation. The main game now is to make them accountable. for the past if possible, but especially in the future to the secular authorities they’ve been trying to avoid since the beginning.

    What people now want to condemn is that wider neglect of victim’s welfare at the time and pretty much ever since. There may a kind of calumny in wilful ignorance that Pell and others take to their graves. In the absence of a confession the legal system will find no evidence with which to indict, and mores the pity their church lacks the will to interdict.

    Liked by 2 people

    • townsvilleblog May 29, 2015 at 11:42 am #

      I agree the Churches are as slippery as a 44 gallon drum of snot however they ‘all’ should be closely supervised in future to make certain that this violence never occurs again. What can we do for the balance of the pedophile community, do we have enough room to house them safety away from the general public?

      Liked by 1 person

      • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

        I’ve never heard of a 44 gallon drum of snot, but I imagine the trick would be to keep the lid on it.

        As for what we do with paedophiles I think we’d need to at least try and understand why they do it if we wanted to stop it altogether. By which I only mean scientific understanding as opposed to sympathy, to which most would agree they are not entitled.

        This is why I think celibacy can be likened to putting straight criminals in a single gender only prison only to find they turn into LURDs and GURDs. An acronym I picked from TV meaning Lesbian or Gay Until Release Date. Human sexuality being what it is, without suggesting people’s orientation changes at all, there may still be enough flexibility for some people to indulge a second preference.

        I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that some of the worst offenders like Ridsdale would be out and out paedophiles, many are probably sociopathic, with a similarly high proportion of narcissists exploiting a position of trust as if it were an entitlement rather than a privilege we won’t be inclined to extend again in future.

        Most importantly all, including those most lacking empathy, would have known quite well that what they were doing was wrong and why without the slightest need to refer to scripture.

        So yes we lock the worst of them up for the longest and perhaps develop the ability to scientifically assess what risk they present to the community if released. Beyond that we can only say that if crimes require means, motive and opportunity then we should at least remove or reduce the latter.

        Liked by 2 people

        • townsvilleblog May 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

          I’m obviously not an expert on the subject but if a person lacks empathy and compassion aren’t they said to be psychopaths? I heard today that Christmas Island had some pedophiles living there and I though what a great option, an island far enough away that they could not swim to the mainland, but then I suppose some of these monsters may be well educated and may be able to build a boat?

          Liked by 1 person

          • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

            My reading of the terminology after looking it up on a previous occasion is that a psychopath could be anybody across what turns out to be a fairly broad spectrum. Some are relatively benign cases not in the least inclined to criminality, others are reputedly CEOs.

            Sociopathy according to Robert Hare, criminal psychologist and one of the pre-eminent experts on the subject describes that real profile for serious criminality. It combines lack of empathy and antisocial factors.

            So what I’m saying here is that empathy is perhaps the best tool we have for comprehending how our behaviour affects others, but it isn’t the only tool offenders have. Even if they’re only intellectually aware of the objection to their abuse they know it exists and try very hard to conceal it.

            As for the whole boat idea, can we assume that’s one boat we wouldn’t push back to Indonesia?

            It’s probably inopportune to get too flippant about the issue of child abuse in detention because the government is undoubtedly trying everything in its power to keep the Royal Commission into child abuse away from Nauru.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous May 29, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    My father was a peadophile….he died in 1993 when i was 47.he was a religious fanatic, (greek-orthodox)…& i know he felt enabled & protected in his crimes within that environment…he enabled his 4 sons to commit crimes against their younger sisters…( on & on it goes). i loved & hated my dad….like many other child victims, i had a desperate need for him to admit & say sorry. Waaay past that now….didn’t happen & never was going to happen. The closer he approached death i sensed the more his guilt confronted him & the more his fear of going to hell confronted him & the stronger his denial became to protect him from the burden of responsibility he chose not to bear. No conscious remorse expressed to the 9 children he brutalised & damaged, most beyond recovery. i watched Risdale @RC last night & as much as i hate to admit it, he owned up more than my dad & i also saw the conflict & fear in him facing his own death…he was like a child who had been caught out & was terrified of the punishment he would suffer if all the truth be told…i don’t think he feels he isn’t telling the truth, i think it;s more about feeling he simply cannot betray the almighty RC Church. In his twisted & terrified mind, that’s the biggest sin bringing with it the worst punishment…..the horrendous life-long suffering he has wilfully caused to countless children & their loved ones didn’t seem to me to factor much into the equation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Anonymous May 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

      need to edit…”like most other children who have suffered CSA, especially from parents & care-givers who they are dependant upon , i had a desperate & totally understandable & healthy need for him to admit & say sorry & some”….

      Like

    • townsvilleblog May 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

      I get the feeling that this was written through tears, I can’t say I understand your position, because I don’t, only you do, but what I can say is that in my humble opinion religion = delusion once they die they are free from punishment as my friend’s grandfather in earlier comment.
      I have been once or twice been approached for homosexual sex, once by a co-worker when I was drunk and once in a park while I was waiting for my girlfriend at the time. Both times were very uncomfortable for me, one of those experiences cost me a steady job. I think the brain wiring is amiss in those people, and I agree that studies should be done to try to find what it is that sends them off course, but mostly I feel that they should not be allowed to participate in our general community and as island prison seems the most likely humane end for these people.

      Like

      • Anonymous May 29, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

        thanks for your response townsvilleblog,..no, the tears i cried were for the survivors who read out statements @ the RC…i have found peace re; my dad…don’t feel much for him at all anymore to be honest , there’s only so much wracking ones heart, brain & soul to understand & make sense of what motivates some peoples behaviour & he’s consumed more than his fair share of mine i reckon, as have all the abusers in my family.
        i feel fortunate to have reached a stage in my knowledge & emotional & intellectual strength, where i can now channel it to & share it with those who need & want it & will hopefully benefit from it most. ‘Children Before Peadophiles’…& anyone who would abuse them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • townsvilleblog May 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

          I’m so happy for you, I wish we could sit down and have a conversation one day soon. I’m really impressed with you battle against adversity and your win. I wish I could pass your success along to my friend who is doing it very tough at the moment.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Anonymous May 31, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

            thanks,…it hasn’t been easy…25 yrs of psychotherapy & some…. i believe every victim/survivor is different in the way they experience & deal with CSA, even tho there are common elements which many share…there is a multitude of data on what victim/survivors need to do or have or be or think or feel or not feel etc. to recover…i was always of the belief that i never would…i mean 25yrs of p/therapy?…i was quite astounded & relieved when my therapist said to me in a session where i was utterly despairing that my life was doomed to be one long never ending trauma & re-trauma, that victim/survivors can & do get thro it. I hung onto to that belief & feel that i have reached a place where i feel safe, reasonably happy, & confident that i can handle whatever challenges life presents…(hopefully).. I’m a person who needs to express myself openly & say what i think & feel. Telling my truth & being believed & supported in it was essential to my recovery. I was lucky enough to find a psychotherapist who was way ahead of her time re; violence against women & children in all it’s manifestations. Hopefully your friend will intuit what it is she needs to do to take the next step toward recovery.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson May 31, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

          I’m so glad to read you’ve reached that stage where you don’t feel that much for him anymore. I too am there, though I find that doesn’t necessarily stop flashbacks when triggered.

          I think that place of neutrality is what healing is about. Then, as you say, putting what’s been learned to the best possible use.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Anonymous May 31, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

            thanks Jennifer,…i agree about the flash back triggers…i feel i’ve learnt to cope with them…i’ve escaped the prison so to speak….despite what i’ve been thro & so much that’s been stolen from me, the deep losses, i’ve spent most of my life grieving, i now feel quite privileged that i am safe, have secure, affordable public housing, enough $ to eat what i want, fab. local library, warm bed,local Greek cake shop where i have my daily coffee fix & a bestie who understands..pretty basic needs really that make the World of difference….& my 2 surviving sisters feel safe & know they are loved & cared for by me & i would protect them to the death…all i want now is a feisty little doggie to join me on my dly adventures…a healthy intimate relationship is something i’ve never had & probably feel is the biggest challenge i face…hope i’m not boring everyone, just think it’s probably the biggest loss i’ve suffered…there’s hope yet!

            Liked by 2 people

            • Wendy Carroll June 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

              Not boring…. bravo to you….. oh and you must get the dog! Maybe a rescue dog and give some little tail-wagging cutie a second chance? Dogs are the best…. therapy on four legs imho and I can’t imagine life without mine.
              There is hope yet and in dogs it springs eternal.

              Like

              • Anonymous June 4, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

                thanks Wendy,..adorable creatures…definitely a rescue doggie…will live in doggie heaven for the rest of it’s life..i’ll be his/her therapist as required & he.can tell me all about it & it i’ll be all ears, heart & soul, fun & games..woof!

                Like

            • Jennifer Wilson June 5, 2015 at 7:40 am #

              Relationships are the biggest challenge imo. I agree, they are the biggest loss, the hardest to redress.

              You aren’t boring. Thank you for being so open.

              Like

              • Anonymous June 5, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

                thank-you Jennifer,..it just occurred to me that if i put all the blokes i’d been involved with in my adult life in a room, they’d easily fill a psyche ward….bit sad, but i love black humour & had a laugh..:)

                Liked by 1 person

          • townsvilleblog June 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

            On the Abbott affair, why don’t journalists simply ask the man a question on the subject. As I recall The Hon E.G. Whitlam was asked many a furious question by journalists, I recall ACA with Michael Shubecker or some such name, The King Kerry O’Brien of 7:30 Report and Michael Willisee whose uncle was a Senator and a Minister in the Whitlam government. These journo’s would hound their prey until they received an answer to their satisfaction, Where are the journalists with balls?

            Liked by 1 person

            • hudsongodfrey June 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

              Michael Schildberger?

              Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson June 5, 2015 at 7:42 am #

              It’s a conspiracy, imo. Journos don’t ask hard questions anymore, except the occasional female warrior.

              Like

            • townsvilleblog June 5, 2015 at 9:21 am #

              I forgot to name Jana Wendt she was top shelf also. Now there are many top shelf lady jurno’s.

              Liked by 1 person

    • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

      Thanks for posting that. I think most people taking any interest in this topic recognise something bordering upon unhealthy yet compelling in the quest for some kind of catharsis.

      I don’t think we’ll get the truth or even that the truth is a single thing, but a little more honesty and authenticity wouldn’t hurt in some kind of spirit of openness that they might owe it to all they abused and the many more they betrayed to finally come clean.

      Unfortunately for us most of those who covered it up and certainly all of the offenders are the kind of psychopaths who seem to salvage a modicum of dignity in their own minds out of managing to conceal as much as possible, down to the very last detail.

      I think we’re going to have to make our own peace with the past and throw out weight behind making sure it can’t happen again. Hard as that seems its probably a better place than inside the minds of our former oppressors.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson May 29, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

      I agree anon. Ridsdale is also looking to his future. He’ll be very old when released, and only has the church to take care of him. Justice Mclelland commented yesterday the Ridsdale was behaving as if he had been “coached” & the RC was going to check his visitor lists

      Liked by 1 person

      • hudsongodfrey May 29, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

        According to Broken Rites Ridsdale could be eligible for parole by 2019, but I suspect there are other matters liable to arise from the Royal Commission that could extend his stay. As it stands he was convicted on a combined total of 54 counts, and given a minimum of 24 years. The actual number of victims is believed to be far higher.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anonymous May 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

        interesting observation by the judge,.. on reflection his responses did feel programmed & robotic & void of any emotion, except for himself….glad to hear the RC are doing what is required to weed out the enablers… they need to keep carrying out unrelenting forensic investigation to get to the roots of this systemic problem if they hope make any positive changes ….BTW Jennifer, i contacted the Wheeler Centre today & let them know that i felt as far as writers/bloggers/social commentators go in Oz, i consider you to be almost always instantly engaging, up to the minute, confronting, witty, challenging, fiercely honest & authentic, a uniquely insightful & a much needed voice. In short, just brilliant. Said to put all that in an e-mail & they’d look into it. They’re open to suggestions for issues/topics for events & people suitable to present them. At the v. least i want them & many others to be aware of your gifts.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Anonymous May 31, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

        I think one of the primary enablers of the violent systemic crimes committed in the whole range of abuses…Instit. CSA, the scourge of Family Violence, rape, violence against women & children, etc. is the archaic, Patriarchal, fundamentally corrupt, adversarial Westminster legal system Australia adheres to. Not interested in discovering the truth quite the opposite. Give protection to the criminals & punish the victims. Know from personal experience & research. Unless the law changes drastically i wonder how much else will.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. townsvilleblog May 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    CSA?

    Like

  7. Fiona May 29, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    I don’t want to start probing into abbott’s mind regarding his view of abused children, let alone abused adults. The fungus would be lethal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson May 31, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      Once you got in there you’d never get out.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fiona May 31, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

        A la Hotel California . . .

        Liked by 3 people

      • Michaela Tschudi May 31, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

        That assumes there’s something inside his skull. I wonder most days if he is just mouthing what he hears in his earpiece.

        Liked by 2 people

        • townsvilleblog June 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

          Michaela, I wish all people affected by sexual abuse could understand that the fiddle still plays a beautiful tune whether it has been played by a repulsive repugnant man or not. We are all what we are today. Some of this treatment is horrendous but we remain good people regardless of our past. We are strong people lesser people could not carry this burden, we really should meet on facebook. Mt name is Shaun Newman, and I would be proud if any or all became my friends there.

          Liked by 4 people

  8. Michaela Tschudi May 31, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    I read through many of the papers provided to the commission in Ballarat by the Catholic Church for the 1970s (when I lived there, attended boarding school). Some of the papers were records of meetings where Ridsdale’s relocations were mentioned. As one other tweeter said, read it and weep. The papers show the extraordinary lengths to which the church went to protect the priest and the institution. I hope the church is bankrupted by the compensation claims.

    Liked by 3 people

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