John Lilburne's journal about the difficulty of dealing with pedophilia and the issue of Church society.


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1219 K Wed 17 April 2002

Today a front page story in The Australian is about an Anglican bishop trying to having a Royal Commission into sexual abuse of children, because of the difficulties of his own inquiry. The editorial also talks about this.

There is also the story of the US Cardinals going to Rome. The Vatican's communique included:

"The purpose of this meeting: an examination of the problems that have arisen in the Church in the United States following the scandals connected with pedophilia, and an indication of guidelines aimed at restoring security and serenity to families and confidence to the clergy and the faithful."

Connected with this someone on was asking if Rome will attempt to blame "America's so-called permissive society" for the problems.

Really it is the Church's society, culture and approach that are coming under the spotlight. Perhaps the word "permissive" is used when "tolerant" is taken too far. I think there is a tendency to be too tolerant of misdemeanours by priests.

Lots of people are saying they will not tolerate sexual abuse of children. For example, today's lead story on begins:

Pedophile priests should be laicized immediately upon proof of their guilt, said Bishop Walter F. Sullivan of Richmond.

But getting such proof is difficult. What I mainly write about here is the Catholic Church's liturgical laws. Misdemeanours are obvious. For example, it is clear that the Roman Missal says people should stand for the Gloria. It is clear that Archbishop Hart sits for it. But there is not much of a culture to challenge him about this. The same could be said for many liturgical abuses by many priests. By being less permissive here I believe improvements can occur in other areas.

The problem of pedophilia is complex. I listened to part of the 14 April Background Briefing program about it and I thought it gave a substantial examination of the issue, linking it to Church culture and looking at how Church's are dealing with it.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 16 April 2002. Last updated 18 April 2002.


Other sites:

Australian front page story: Church sex enquiry doomed.

Background Briefing A 14 April programme was about these issues. Transcript of it.