Parents Shocked As Priest Compares Adultery to Paedophilia
By Henrietta Cook
April 14, 2016
|Father Bill Edebohls, formerly an Anglican was one of Melbourne's first married priests. Pictured in 2005 with his wife Robyn St Pius. Photo: Joe Armao|
A Catholic priest has offended parents at a Malvern East school by comparing paedophile priests to adulterous women in a school newsletter.
St Mary's Primary School parish priest Father Bill Edebohls also took aim at lawyers and the media for not showing enough mercy during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.
He said he was concerned the Royal Commission would not give victims an opportunity to heal.
"Why? Because both the media and the lawyers, like the baying crowd of men in the gospel ready to throw stones, don't understand the need for a justice that is drenched in mercy."
The statements were printed in the school's March newsletter and delivered at the St Mary's church in East Malvern.
"Maybe to get the real drama and effect of the story we ought to replace the adulterous woman with a paedophile priest," he wrote, after recounting the gospel tale of Jesus showing mercy towards an adulterous woman, telling the baying mob "he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
|St. Mary's Primary School March newsletter. Photo: Henrietta Cook|
The priest's homily went on to say: "That does not mean there is no condemnation of the sin, no punishment or consequences for the perpetrator or an institution that protected him. But it does mean justice with mercy."
One parent said it was abhorrent to compare a crime like paedophilia with a moral issue like adultery.
"To have that sort of attitude is shocking," they said.
Bernard Barrett, a researcher at victims support group Broken Rites, said Father Edebohls' comments downplayed serious crimes.
"The Royal Commission is investigating crimes, not sins," Dr Barrett said.
"It is also investigating how these crimes have been tolerated or concealed in some organisations such as churches — and Father Edebohls' down-playing of these crimes is an example of this problem."
Father Edebohls said it was "not always easy to take a story from 2000 years ago and bring it into the modern era".
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne spokesman Shane Healy said Father Edebohls had replaced the adulterous woman of Jesus' time with the worst sinner in our time, the paedophile priest.
"He tried to pick a contemporary example of what might have been a woman adulterer of 2000 years ago, who would have been looked on entirely differently."
Unlike other states, the parish priest is the head of Catholic primary schools in Victoria. St. Mary's publishes its parish priest's homily, word for word, in every school newsletter.
Father Edebohls was once the Anglican Dean of Ballarat, and was Melbourne's first married priest to run a Catholic parish.