John Lilburne's journal about the Pope on divorce and Chaplain Fleming's letter to The Australian.
Letter published in The Australian newspaper, on Monday 4 February 2002
As a Catholic priest for the past 39 years, I find much that I agree with in the hard criticisms in Rosemary Neill's article and those of Chaplain M. Fleming (Letters, 2-3/2).
With regard to the crime of pedophilia by Church employees, the Australian Church has already laid down the protocols to be observed here. Its title is "Towards Healing" and was last revised in December 2000.
Section 37 indicates quite clearly the obligation of Church authorities to report offences to the secular authorities and to assist and not impede the processes of criminal and civil law in these matters.
These are the processes to be observed in Australia.
I have not been able to read the decree from the Vatican. But if the media reports are accurate, those who wrote the decree should be reminded that any "in-house" investigation will always smack of a cover-up. This sort of crime demands complete transparency of process to prevent further injustice and suffering for the victim.
Any sacrifice of an individual's right to justice for the sake of what might seem to be the reputation of the Church would be a rank sin against the gospel of Christ.
Those of us working, as Chaplain Fleming says, at the coalface, are fed up with decrees from Vatican offices that are so out of touch with where the believing and practising Catholics of this country stand, not only laity but clergy as well.
It is high time those who work in these offices began to listen to the ordinary people -- who are the Church.
Father PETER NICHOLLS
Posted by J.R. Lilburne, 4 February 2002.