Commission’s Catholic focus questioned
Martin McKenzie-Murray quoted inaccurately and selectively from my address to the Christopher Dawson Centre in May (“The people defending Cardinal George Pell”, July 8-14). I never alleged that there have been “conspiratorial attacks” on the Catholic Church with respect to clerical child sexual abuse. He just made this up. My point was that, according to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s own statistics, between 1950 and 2014 there were 4444 alleged instances of abuse against Catholic clergy, most concerning the period between 1950 and 1989. The same statistics reveal 2504 such instances in the Uniting Church between 1977 and 2016. This does not take account of abuses between 1950 and 1977 when several churches merged into the Uniting Church. The Uniting Church is about one-fifth the size of the Catholic Church. It has married clergy, female ministers, no sacrament of confession and no compulsory celibacy. Yet the royal commission’s “wrap” focused on the Catholic Church for 15 days with just half a day on the Uniting Church. McKenzie-Murray just ignored this while accusing me of “sophistic deflections”.
– Gerard Henderson, Sydney, NSW
Leave court to rule on George Pell
My interest in George Pell receiving a fair trial is in the interest of fair trials per se. The Lindy Chamberlain case showed the legal system can fail very badly. Media at the time, particularly newspapers, contributed to a prejudicial atmosphere. Martin McKenzie-Murray’s article critiques George Pell’s defenders and finds their defence inadequate. Given the importance of the legal processes Pell faces, it is critical a clamour outside a formal court doesn’t impede, or discredit, the legal system’s capacity to provide a fair hearing. There is already an aura of bear-baiting around Pell and as the Chamberlain case showed, it doesn’t take long for our civilised society to slide into mediaeval ways.
– Des Files, Brunswick, Vic
Editorial struck the right Tony
There are times when gratitude is inadequate to describe the satisfaction derived when the truth is finally spoken. I refer to the editorial (“Force of Abbott”, July 8-14) concerning the destructive political life of Tony Abbott. Surely his attack skills would be better employed against poverty and injustice so omnipresent in the world today.
– Julienne Kinmont Pawsey, Coromandel Valley, SA
Compulsory reading for PM
I have kept “Force of Abbott” to show my grandchildren what one destructive individual can do and because it so eloquently put into words my feelings about the wrecker of Australian liberalism. I hope Malcolm Turnbull reads it.
– Ann Babington, Shortland, NSW
The revenge subtext
Congratulations on your editorial. You captured the essence of Tony Abbott perfectly but could have added that his greatest shame is his total ignorance and/or arrogance in not being able to see how out of touch with reality he really is. The list of his obscure, ill-informed and self-serving rants bears testimony to his real agenda, pure and simple revenge. However, he is unlikely to stop any time soon as long as his mates in the Murdoch media and radio talkback condone his hysterical outbursts.
– Cecile Sartori, Carseldine, Qld
A case of mistaken identity
I want to correct Gadfly’s implication that our former prime minister is related to St Antony of Egypt, who lived at the end of the third century (“Tempting Tony”, July 1-7). He was a man who sought to serve God by solitude and prayer, and used his talents as a preacher to encourage others to care for the poor and needy. His example led to the development of the monastic movement, but at no time was he an abbot or head of a monastery. St Anthony of Padua was a follower of Francis of Assisi who also was given to preaching the gospel and caring for the poor and disadvantaged. I am surprised Gadfly would find any resemblance between these two saintly men and our former prime minister who presided over a 2014 budget that so disadvantaged our own poor. I am proud to have been born on the day that celebrates the life of Antony of Egypt in the Book of Common Prayer.
– Antony Ault, Rose Bay, Tas
John Howard started it
Thanks, Karen Middleton, for the excellent “Planning for Abbott’s exit”, July 8-14. The right-wing zealots led by Tony Abbott and his cohorts, who claim the Liberal Party has been hijacked by the so-called “left”, conveniently ignore that the party had already been hijacked – by their hero, John Howard. Howard orchestrated a deliberate and largely successful campaign to purge the party of “small-l” liberals, including decent and competent ministers such as Fred Chaney and Ian Macphee. This was done by stacking party branches to ensure “left” candidates did not win preselection. The result was the emergence, eventually, of odious creatures such as Cory Bernardi, who now has the gall to claim the party he deserted has been wrenched from what he mistakenly describes as its conservative heartland, while debasing the legacy of Robert Menzies, however flawed that might be.
– Bruce Pollock, Little Bay, NSW
Having a long-term interest in refugee affairs I was more than interested in Richard Ackland’s “Grenade solutions”, July 8-14. What flabbergasted and alarmed me was the “foggy” selection process and the remuneration offered for positions left to the discretion of the least competent government ministers.
– John Bennett, Dingabledinga, SA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 15, 2017. Subscribe here.