The Four Corners on priest-pederasts last night was every bit as upsetting as it had to be, mixing cradle-Catholic suicides and their bewildered Catholic parents into the intergenerational vileness (priests abused as choirboys become, in vengeance, abusing priests) of the ever-unfurling story. But it raised as well the question of the punishment, by gaol or community service, of those who knew and did not speak.
This puts a lot of people in the gun. One is Archbishop Hollingworth, shamed GG, who on Australian Story defended Bishop Shearman, whom he knew about, and his decades-long affair with an initially twelve-year-old girl, calling her on national television the predator. Another is Bishop Shearman, still at large. Another is Pell, who on the screen was brimming with concealment and haughty denial: he is hiding still, I would imagine, a dozen cases he did not report to any non-Catholic authority.
Another, of course, is Tony Abbott, as revealed on page 68 of the Duffy book about him and Latham.
But there are thousands of others. Thousands of cradle Catholics later Communist or libertarian agnostics who, like Jim McLelland, were abused themselves and kept it dark, or had friends abused and broken and suicidal and told no authority about it.
I do not know why this is. I myself knew of cases — at Knox, at Cranbrook, at King’s, at Woodlawn — I did not report after finding out, years after, what occurred. I had a collaborator, now dead, who availed himself of early-teenage girls. The tendency to forgive what is ruining children is an almost universal one, I sorrowingly own. It is as if children remain expendable, disposable, discardable as they were, in most minds, when foetuses. Because we do not know their potential we look upon child whores in Pnomh Penh and Manila with sympathy, and pass them by. We note the existence of child soldiers forced to kill their parents and put it out of our minds. We laugh at the climactic scene of Little Miss Sunshine, knowing precisely what it means, and speak of it admiringly.
By the Four Corners’ reasoning we all should be in gaol. And perhaps we should be.
I invite discussion of this.
I think we all have much to say.