Defending the indefensible!

Posted: June 20, 2014 in Ranting
Tags: , , ,

Only days ago I read this article about the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Louis, Robert Carlson, claiming that he didn’t always know it was a crime for adults, including priests, to have sex with children.

He testifies that he’s not sure when he learned that it was illegal. He testifies that he’s not even sure he knew as far back as the 1970s that sex with children was illegal.

I was outraged. Furious. Either he was serious, in which case he should not ever have been placed in any position of authority at all, or he was lying his pants off in which case he should still never have been placed in any position of authority. And I have to also admit that there was an element of ‘only in America’ in my mind. But I was wrong.

Here in Australia we currently have a Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Roman Catholic Church is merely one institution going under the microscope with the Commission. For example some rather ordinary responses from the YMCA came to light. However yesterday’s newspapers carried an absolutely damning piece of testimony to the Commission from the former head of the Marist Brothers in Australia.

Documentary evidence revealed Brother Alexis Turton, then head of the Marist Brothers in Australia, learned in August, 1989, that police were investigating claims of molestation of children by Brother Greg Sutton at a school in 1984. Five days later Sutton was put on a plane and flown to a counseling centre in Canada. Turton denies that this was done to block police investigations.

Isn’t it curious just how often a member of the Roman Catholic clergy just happens to be removed from a place or country just when they are under investigation for such serious matters? It is equally hard to believe that these are all just coincidences. Various documents are appearing in which the Brother in question, Greg Sutton, admitted to having molested girls.

Now we come to the clincher. Brother Alexis Turton informed the Commission two days ago that:

he would have needed specialist legal advice to determine if an adult touching a child on the genitals was a criminal offence at that time.

He also told the commission he would have needed specialist advice to determine if it was a criminal offence for an adult to make a child touch them on the genitals or to masturbate a child.

He knew what a paedophile was at the time and was aware in 1985 that sexual intercourse between an adult and a child was a criminal offence.


Unbelievable. Is this now going to become the standard response from the clergy – we weren’t sure if it was wrong or not? Are we REALLY expected to believe that both Turton and Carlson (in St Louis) actually thought it might be lawful for any adult to interfere with a child in this way? What rational person could have ever believed that to be the case? What about morals? What about ethics? What about common fucking sense?? But we are not just talking about any ordinary people here. We are talking about members of the clergy in whom there is a placed a much higher degree of trust, a more than reasonable social expectation that they shall act in a moral manner. Yet we now have two different senior members of the Roman Catholic clergy suggesting that there were not aware that it was illegal for an adult to interfere with a child for sexual gratification! And as I noted earlier, yet another case of the offending clergyman being conveniently rushed out of the country and hindering police investigations.

Let me make one thing very clear. I am not having a go at followers of the Roman Catholic faith. Nor am I suggesting that all priests, Brothers or Sisters are child molesters. There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of the clergy would be disgusted and horrified that these things had been occurring. But I am also of the opinion that too many of them remained silent. Was this another illustration of the confessional being used to ‘pardon’ these crimes against children and thus locking it away under the confidentiality of the confession box?  I do not believe for a moment that either Turton or Carlson were being fair dinkum. In my opinion they have been deliberately reaching for another ridiculous straw to try to defend what should be the indefensible. And this fits neatly with what appears to be the senior echelons of the Roman Catholic Church having every appearance of a deliberate and long-standing policy of hiding things away, of ducking responsibility, of perhaps even allowing these things to continue.

Is it possible for me to even more disgusted than I am already? I doubt it and that is saying a lot.

Over to you – any thoughts? Is it really possible that the Roman Catholic clergy were not aware that it was illegal for an adult to interfere with a child? And feel free to follow my blog.

Ross sig

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