Discussing whistle blowing, reports that Dr George Pell was informed of pedophilia suspicions in 1974, detraction in the Catechism and Danny Frawley.


About John Lilburne



2137 K Mon 24 Jun 2002

Terry Lane had an interesting article in The Sunday Age:

Blow .05, just don't blow the whistle

... You will remember the Konrad story: window-shutter installers were paying kickbacks to cops who tipped them off about broken shop windows. The ombudsman, acting on the alert from Konrad, uncovered 1819 incidents of kickbacks and 244 officers were disciplined in one way or another. But only one was sacked. Karl Konrad. ...

Being a whisle blower isn't much fun. Russell Crowe also conveyed this in his Academy Award winning role in The Insider.

Peter Ellingsen had an article on page 3 of Saturday's Age. He reports that Brother Edward Dowlan was convicted of interfering with boys in 1996 and was released on parole in September 2001. According to Peter Ellingsen's article:

... A former St Patrick's student, now 40, says that he and two other year 8 St Patrick's teenagers approached Dr Pell at Ballarat's Eureka swimming pool in 1974 and told him they believed Dowlan was abusing schoolboys. ...

He quotes Archbishop Pell as saying "At a distance of 28 years I have no recollection of any such conversation. If I was approached and thought the stories plausible I would have informed the Christian Brothers. I do not remember hearing rumours about Dowlan, a man I hardly knew. ..." At the time he would have been aged 34.

The student, who is now aged 40, does not wish to be named. The grounds for the belief or suspicion are not given. He is quoted as saying "Dr Pell said he did not think the story could be true." ... "We expressed our suspicions, but he did not ask us any more."

So what happened? It seems to me that if everyone is being truthful then Dr Pell was approached and Brother Dowlan was discussed. Dr Pell thought the suspicions implausible. So he did not "blow the whistle" or "dob in" Brother Dowlan.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. [Footnote Cf. CIC, can. 220]. He becomes guilty:

... -- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them; [Footnote Cf. Sir 21:28] ...

The first footnote is the Code of Canon Law, canon 220:

No one may unlawfully harm the good reputation which a person enjoys, or violate the right of every person to protect his or her privacy. (Harper Collins 1987 translation)

The second footnote is from the Bible Catholics recognise, in the book of Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 21:28

The scandal-monger sullies himself and earns the hatred of the neighbourhood. (New Jerusalem Bible translation)

Hopefully I am following the teaching of the Catholic Church. When I criticise, for example the way liturgy is done, I try to be just. My objectively valid reason for doing so includes explaining what the liturgical laws are and trying to improve how things are done.

Yesterday Richmond were beaten in Australian Football by 84 points, scoring only 70 themselves. After the game the coach, Danny Frawley, said:

... We'll just have to go back to the drawing board and see who really does still have the hunger.

There were a few telling signs out there today that we may have been going through the motions. (reported by Mark Stevens, Herald Sun, page 29)

They are severe comments but I respect his judgement.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 24 June 2002.

Other sites:

Terry Lane's article

Peter Ellingsen's article on Archbishop Pell

Mark Steven's article about Richmond coach Danny Frawley.