2319 Fri 7 Sep 2001
Richmond got the first goal tonight, but then I think Essendon
kicked the next eight. A very disappointing game which cost me
about $27 to see. It also meant missing out on a quiz night at
Catholic Theological College. I cannot see myself paying to see
another final this year. For the past six years I have gone to
almost every game Richmond played in Melbourne that I could get
to. But I cannot see myself doing that again next year.
This afternoon I went to the State Library of Victoria and
read Chapter 4 of "Crimes of Obedience". Its title
is "The Structure of Authority". Its mainly about state
authority, but I saw lots of the issues as applicable to the
Catholic Church. Here are some quotes I wrote down while reading:
Once a demand is categorised as legitimate, the person to
whom it is addressed enters a situation where his personal preferences
become more or less irrelevant as determinants of behaviour.
Psychologically, once a demand is seen as legitimate, the
person acts as if he were in a nonchoice situation. (page 90).
Commitment and loyalty to the group - and the concomitant
acceptance of its legitimacy - ultimately depend on the perception
that the group meets the psychological and material needs of
its members. (page 91).
... the threat of legal punishment is not just an incentive
for complying but a cue indicating that obedience is required
rather than a matter of preferential choice. When authorities
fail to attach sanctions for disobedience to a law or an order,
or when they habitually fail to enforce it, they are signaling
that citizens can at least discreetly choose to ignore it. (page
In authority situations that do not rest on a legal framework
and in which the authorities are not entitled to impose penalties,
the fear of embarrassment may perform a function similar to that
of punishment in legally structured situations. (page 94).
... a conflict between two competing definitions of the situation
- a conflict over which decision rule is to prevail. (page 96).
If people can interpret an objectionable order as a request
rather than a demand - if they can define it as not actually
required, as not applying to themselves or to their particular
circumstances - then they are likely to take advantage of that
option. (page 97).
I have also read Chapter 5: "The Dynamics of Authority".
One issue is discusses is "Behaviour in Office"
Continuing legitimacy of authorities depends on people's assessment
of how they comport themselves in office. ....
3. Do they hold themselves accountable for their actions?
Do they recognize the rights of citizens and subordinates to
make use of available mechanism of recourse if they feel that
the authorities have abused their power? Do they cooperate with
efforts, undertaken within the rules of the system, to call them
to account for their policies and actions, and do they respect
the decisions and carry out the recommendations generated by
such efforts? Authorities lose legitimacy if they sidestep, ignore,
or show contempt for the mechanisms of recourse and accountability
provided by the society. (pages 130-131).
I picked up a free newspaper in the city: "MX News".
Here is part of an article on page 13:
Church on outer says Archbishop
Christianity has almost been vanquished in Britain, according
to the Archbishop of Westminster.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor also told the National Conference
of Priests that young people were "indifferent" to
Christian values. ....
On child abuse, the Cardinal said: "All I want to say
about this is quite clear and simple - I do not try to make excuses
for the past.
"Yet we must recognise the depth and extent of the damage
done to the Church and its mission in these cases."
He said priests and especially bishops had not been sufficiently
aware of the "insidious" and "pathological"
nature of child abuse.
He sounds concerned, so hopefully he will be taking the sort
of measures needed to fix the problem.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 7 September 2001.