Features Australia

All aboard the anti-Catholic bandwagon

29 June 2019

9:00 AM

29 June 2019

9:00 AM

Driven by spite and ideology masquerading as a concern for ‘justice’, the anti-Catholic bandwagon rumbles on, unimpeded by the fall-off in accusations of child sexual abuse. As though to make up for the shortage of new victims, the leftist Victorian government, ever keen to give the wagon a push along, has decided to give existing victims who’ve already had a compensation payout a second bite of the cherry.

A shortage of ‘accusations’ does not of course mean a shortage of abuse. Everyone knows that most child abuse – if American statistics are anything to go by, something over 90 per cent – occurs in the bosom of the family. But that’s a hidden world beyond the investigative reach of the secularists who’ve made child abuse what the Italians call their cavallo di battaglia against the Roman Catholic Church, and presumably beyond their interest too, since you won’t find any cardinals to lock up in the average abusive home, where a succession of mum’s latest boyfriends or a dirty old uncle can have their way in total safety and secrecy.

The Andrews scheme is to ‘revisit’ past settlements that, in determining compensation, might have ‘short-changed’ ‘survivors’, some of whom, in the words of a ‘leading victims’ lawyer’, ‘were sent away with pay-outs of as little as $5,000… in a system stacked against survivors.’ Or as the Melbourne Age put it in its usual tendentious way, in a report accompanied once again by its tired old photographs of the jailed and defrocked Gerald Ridsdale in his Ray-Bans and tweed cap, ‘Thousands of victims of child sex abuse in Victorian institutions are being offered a second chance at justice.’

An impartial observer might have thought the victims had already received justice when they collected the cheque in settlement of their claim. Apparently not, if to get their money they had to sign a ‘deed of release’ binding them to take no further legal action. ‘The Andrews Government,’ continues the Age, will legislate ‘to give discretion to a court to set aside a past deed of release or court judgement relating to child abuse.’ This is ‘just and reasonable’, according to the Victorian Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy (it’s interesting to note how many individuals who have the Roman Catholic Church in the gun have Irish Catholic names). ‘Many victim survivors,’ she explains, ‘were pushed into these agreements without proper legal advice so it’s important we give them an avenue to overturn these often unfair compensation orders.’

Well that’s all very generous, but despite the talk of justice one detects a certain bias. ‘Short-changed’? By whose reckoning? ‘Unfair’? According to whom? And on what evidence can ‘survivors’ be said to have been ‘pushed’, other than their own assertion and that of the ‘victims’ advocates’, whose shadow falls over the whole field of abuse compensation? Yet no one was reported as having made a fuss at the time. But this, the ‘advocates’ now allege, was because there was no point, given that – and here the mask of blaming ‘institutions’ in general for abuse slips, and we see who is really the principal villain, and the target – ‘all the legal advantages’ were on the side of the Roman Catholic Church. From its position of power, the Church has been able, in the words of a ‘victims’ lawyer’, to ‘strong-arm’ compensation claimants. ‘For many decades,’ she said, ‘in particular the Catholic Church but many other defendants, have offered only very modest sum (sic) because survivors knew there was a significant risk they’d fail on a technicality if they pursued their claims.’

This risk would seem very hard to prove, but besides, what’s wrong with a ‘modest sum’? Do lawyers think that the most appropriate way to compensate for the traumatic experience of child abuse is to shower the victim with wealth? And how can you compute the correct amount for each case? A chorus of ‘survivors’ and their lawyers has begun claiming that even the $150,000 maximum in compensation determined by the National Redress Scheme is not enough.

True, some of the abused have subsequently seen their lives go tragically wrong, but plenty haven’t, so to maintain that abuse causes misfortune is highly dubious, if it is for the misfortune that the compensation is intended. More importantly, is wanting more money really the best way of putting past suffering behind you? Doesn’t that prolong it? Wouldn’t it be better, if you can (and if you can’t money is unlikely to help you) to get on with your life and try to forget?

And what if the ‘second chance at justice’, should itself not satisfy objections and the additional compensation be subsequently judged to be too little? Will a ‘third chance’ be offered or demanded?

The Victorian government’s decision effectively to have the courts force the renegotiation of a contract in favour of one side is one more manifestation of the Left’s ideological campaign against the Roman Catholic Church. The Left has been very successful at exploiting child abuse. The sins of a small minority of flawed individuals have been seized upon to paint the Church as rotten to the core, so that its moral opposition to the Left’s social agenda, especially in such matters as abortion, will be dismissed by public opinion as hypocritical.

And that is what is happening. Indeed, many Roman Catholics are among those who reproach the Church with the injunction, ‘Physician, heal thyself’. To be brutally honest, Catholic moral authority doesn’t count for much in the Western world any more. Leftist propaganda has done its bit but the general collapse of belief has done more. Even Catholics seem no longer to take seriously the beliefs to which they nominally subscribe. Though foreign-born Catholics are still devout and the mainstay of many parishes, few Australian-born Catholics under middle age take notice of anything the Church says. They don’t go to Mass, which is an obligation for Catholics, and they often don’t send their children to Catholic schools. A random survey in Melbourne shows that among well-to-do Catholics, socially smart non-Catholic schools are the preferred place to educate one’s children.

The Andrews government knows this, and clearly sees no electoral risk from any sort of Catholic backlash against its ‘second chance’ proposal for abuse compensation. And as if to underline the point, just last week Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalise euthanasia, turning a deaf ear to the objections raised by Pope Francis and the whole Catholic hierarchy. And now the Pope, to screams of trans-cult rage, has condemned gender-tinkering. The anti-Catholic bandwagon looks set for a good run yet.

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