Catholic schoolkids in Sydney have brought home a note to parents headed ‘Speaking the Truth in Love’.
But many Catholic parents will not be feeling the love.
Penned by the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher and published on his website, it references the horrific stories emerging from the Royal Commission hearings in Ballarat, which the Most Rev. Fisher admits are ‘harrowing and for many people demoralising’.
Witnesses have talked of the brutal bashings and sex crimes they experienced as young boys at the hands of trusted and respected Catholic clergymen. They have told stories of children shared around by pedophiles, and revealed that when they tried to speak out they were actually punished for speaking ill of God’s holy representatives.
The abuse is believed to have contributed to 45 suicides or early deaths in the region.
So what does Anthony Fisher say to his flock? He says he is appalled by the conduct of some priests and shares feelings of contamination and shame.
BUT – and here’s the Archbishop’s big fat ‘but’ – he says allegations the church tried to protect itself with legal evasions is unfair. And he backs his predecessor George Pell.
The inquiry heard Cardinal Pell knew about what was happening in Ballarat, but did nothing to stop it. It also heard Pell attempted to bribe one of the victims who had confided in him. They are allegations the Cardinal has denied in a statement from the Vatican, where he now resides.
By defending his predecessor and suggesting treatement of the church is unfair, the Archbishop is backing the church's former responses to allegations of sexual abuse.
The letter has had some interesting reactions from some Catholics we know here at Debrief Daily. One parent calls it 'Satanic Verses', others have described it as a real kick in the teeth to victims and several see it as a sign that the Catholic Church is still in denial.
The letter looks like a sorrowful lament and an admission of shame, but it still fails to recognise the level of public outrage over the way George Pell's Melbourne system treated victims. The Church's Melbourne Response and its national Towards Healing response were both found to have been inadequate by the Royal Commission. They shamed, oppressed and denied victims their voice.