josh rosner


In Australian Culture and Society, Australian Politics, Religion on November 9, 2012 at 2:13 am

On Thursday night’s ABC1’s Lateline program senior NSW police officer, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, a thirty-five year veteran of the NSW Police Force, called for a royal commission into the Catholic Church after alleging the church was involved in an orchestrated and widespread cover-up of crimes committed by paedophile priests.

In an open letter to the NSW premier, Barry O’Farrell (himself a Catholic), published in the Newcastle Herald, Fox writes, “Apologising is not enough. Compensating victims for treatment is not enough. Mr O’Farrell, please don’t block your ears. Many priests don’t want a royal commission nor does the hierarchy of the church, but God knows we need one.” You can read the letter here.

This morning, Bishop Bill Wright, head of the Catholic Diocese of Newcastle-Maitland was interviewed by Fran Kelly on her ABC Radio National Breakfast program. Bishop Wright nervously giggled his way through the interview. He suggested, without using his name, that Chief Inspector Fox is bringing up matters that are now thirty years old and that Fox was offering nothing more than a ‘conspiracy theory’ in his Lateline interview, which Wright also conceded he hadn’t watched.

Bishop Wright was asked by Fran Kelly whether he would welcome a royal commission. Wright’s response is telling. He suggested it was not his place to call for a royal commission – he’s right – but if politicians and society wanted it, he feels certain it would work in the church’s favour. Oh really?

Bishop Wright’s flippancy and arrogance in the face of undeniable evil – he doesn’t deny it, after all – perpetrated in the Diocese of Newcastle-Maitland over many decades is, in itself, an act of evil. It is, to put it bluntly, business-as-usual for the Catholic Church. It tarnishes what important, albeit comparatively meagre charitable work the church engages in and it tarnishes the already battered reputation of religion as a whole.

It’s one of the many, many reasons I’ve chosen to keep religion at an arm’s length, if not an even greater distance. It’s inconceivable to me that the ‘organisation’ which claims to offer a pathway to heaven or hell can itself perpetrate such unimaginable evil.

Bishop Wright, for his sins, might more appropriately be referred to as Bishop Wrong.

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