Letters to
the editor

Pell and the rule of law

Thank you, Richard Cooke (“The power and hypocrisy of George Pell’s supporters”, August 24-30). The Court of Appeal in a majority judgement has carefully examined the evidence and arguments using its technical expertise, intellect, rigour and humanity, and the majority has affirmed the verdict of the Supreme Court of 12 jurors representing “ordinary people” who considered the evidence firsthand, which the commentators did not. If Pell decides to go to the High Court it will be only on a point of law which, as in any other case, is his right to pursue. Pell has had the “best legal representation that money can buy”; his counsel and their client adopting the most aggressive line of attack to try to win the day. Why is it that, unlike in any other case, so many Catholics, including the institutional Church, are in denial? Where is the Christian concern for the victim, a defenceless child at the time of the offence, who has been through two court processes with humility and courage? The reality is, some in the Catholic Church hold doctrinal, hierarchical and blind belief above Christ’s compassion. Such arrogance and superiority allow little boys (including my own brother, now deceased) and girls to be subordinated to gratify their needs under a cloak of victim shame. It permits bodily invasion and harm by some who feel, because of their vestments, they can offend the very tenets of true Christianity. Enough. The church needs to be humble and look hard at its response to the verdict. It is this very refusal to accept accountability, ethics and blind loyalty that leads to child abuse and this crazy notion that its officials are above the law. They seem to think that when due process has occurred, as here, they are somehow the martyrs and that it is a conspiracy. No, it is the holding to account of wrongdoing and honouring of the rule of law that civil society requires.

– Dr Liz Curran, ANU School of Legal Practice

Taking Catholicism forward

I must say it’s pretty frustrating to be lumped in as a supporter of Cardinal George Pell when you had your first public run-in with him in the mid-1980s, long before most people had ever heard of him. And all of it based on one sentence taken out of context from an article in a progressive US Catholic newspaper. But that’s precisely what Richard Cooke has done. What he ignores is that I’ve had many public controversies with Pell and his brand of boots’n’all Catholicism right up until his conviction. They even included complaining to the Vatican about his views on conscience. And I don’t need a lecture from Cooke on the history of sectarianism. In the article I wasn’t talking about the past, but about now, and while public anger with the church’s abuse crisis is fully justified, there’s no doubt that some today are taking the opportunity to give the “Micks” an extra good kicking.

– Paul Collins, Campbell, ACT

Witness J’s testimony

With regard to George Pell’s conviction and appeal, none of the parties concerned cited the statistical likelihood that Witness J concocted a false accusation. Based on figures from Britain (ours would be similar) this likelihood is 0.6 per cent. To put it another way, the probability that J invented his allegation is slightly less than one in 198. In short, the chances that the jury and two appellant judges got it wrong are vanishing small.

– David Clarke, Battery Point, Tas

Evidence for practice

Linda Moon’s article, “Naturally disinclined” (August 24-30), failed to disclose that both the author and the academic quoted (Jon Wardle) are naturopaths. The training of naturopaths often includes subjects that lack an evidence base, such as homoeopathy, flower essences and iridology. While naturopaths and other natural health practitioners can give useful dietary and lifestyle advice, they also use discredited or dubious laboratory tests to justify unnecessary or harmful interventions. The reason doctors don’t prescribe St John’s wort is not because they have a grudge against herbal remedies, but because the Australian regulatory system does not assess the efficacy of the varied products available. Other practices mentioned, such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates, can improve mobility and physical function. As does supervised gym activities, weight training, swimming and regular walking. Why should vested interests result in the former being subsidised by private health insurance rebates but not the latter?

– Dr Ken Harvey, president, Friends of Science in Medicine, Hawthorn, Vic

Morrison on wrong path

Our prime minister has, to our detriment, a capacity for camouflaging uncomfortable realities (Rick Morton, “Morrison in the middle”, August 24-30). He may not even recognise them himself, preferring his own narrative that dissent is not valid, and the public service is at fault. The PM accuses them even as he ignores the groundswell of opinion demanding policy rather than spin. That missing policy from the public service he denigrates might truly address the growing community inequity he presides over, the increasingly obvious signs of corruption, it might try to repair the damage done from the contempt shown to our regional neighbours, and it might keep us out of useless wars. It may be that the community he lauds as being “too busy to be angry” are in fact struggling with the dismantling of welfare institutions that once defined the Australia of the “fair go”; quietly surviving does not preclude an intense frustration with out-of-touch governments. Australia is not what it once proudly was, and it certainly isn’t more “relaxed and comfortable”. That cannot be sheeted home to public servants, and is a reality that cannot be addressed by hectoring rhetoric.

– Gil Anaf, Norwood, SA

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 31, 2019.

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