Letters to
the editor

What would Jesus do?

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney paradoxically quotes Jesus putting the service of others over power and control, as Mike Seccombe reports in “Exclusive: George Pell returned to Australia ahead of church reforms” (September 25–October 1). Yet Anthony Fisher represents an institution of wealth and influence, built upon mediaeval, male, clerical and self-perpetuating power structures that are totally at odds with the central ideas taught by the very man the church claims to represent uniquely. It can be argued that Jesus, furiously critical as he was of the religious authorities of his day, had no intention at all of founding a “church” so much as to spread the word about compassion. As happens with so many religious movements, the original intentions and values become subverted and distorted beyond recognition as the institution seeks to grow and maintain power.

– Tim McDonald, Newcastle, NSW

One family and the Christian Brothers

In Mike Seccombe’s article, Tracy McEwan, vice-president of Women and the Australian Church, stated: “I don’t think you ever stop being a Catholic.” Believe me, my husband and I have. Our son, when aged 11, was raped over a four-month period by a Christian Brother who had been sexually and physically abusing young boys for well over 20 years; who has taught at numerous Christian Brothers schools in Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, being sent by the hierarchy from one to the other as his reputation became known; who is in jail for his crimes. I can never support an organisation that accepts and supports this convicted criminal as a Christian Brother, wearing his little cross on his lapel; an organisation that has spent millions of dollars on this man, while fighting victims/survivors all the way to court or mediation, often taking many years; an organisation that has covered up criminal activity against children. I commend Tracy McEwan for trying to reform the Catholic Church. Could she also try to teach it some Christianity. I won’t be holding my breath.

– Name and address withheld

Old ways must be left behind

Mike Seccombe describes George Pell and Anthony Fisher as conservatives. They resist “reforms that dilute the power of the ordained men who run the show and give greater responsibility to lay members”. The clergy sexual abuse scandal has made it abundantly clear that such reforms are non-negotiable. Pell and Fisher are Luddites. They are yesterday’s men. They cannot see the error of their ways. The church will continue but only through metanoia and kenosis.

– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW

Under the surface of subs deal

Karen Middleton’s article “Under the surface” (September 25–October 1) was again an interesting, well-crafted and keenly researched assessment of what has happened so far in the long-ranging submarine purchase saga. I look forward to further commentary on issues not canvassed in this piece. First, that this deal is the third iteration in this diplomatic mess. The Japanese were the first to be discarded, then the French and now we have a notional agreement with the United States and Britain. Second, there is the problem of what our South-East Asian neighbours and China think of our posturing. And, what the Australian people might think about nuclear reactors in their ports.

– Bill Clark, Melbourne, Vic

Managerialism in a health crisis

Karen Willis and Natasha Smallwood do us a service in highlighting the extent of burnout in our healthcare workers (“Care trauma”, September 25–October 1). That the system is at breaking point makes harrowing reading, as are demands on front-line workers who increasingly feel at risk. That “hazard pay” is controversial is distressing. As the authors suggest, staff did not simply “sign up” for this. As a community, I’d suggest we too did not really sign up for a health system that values “efficiencies” over staff and patient care. Nor did we sign up for the inequities that a managerial ethos has delivered in every other sector, where “service” is subordinated to profit and where “managers” with conflicts of interest override expertise. It’s no wonder the workforce is exhausted at doing more with less. The vision we need from leaders is one that is willing to recognise the moral injury arising from such inappropriate systems that dictate poor outcomes. The neoliberal experiment has failed the community.

– Gil Anaf, Norwood, SA

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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 Oct 2, 2021.

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