Christina Keneally on Bishop Robinson Before Australian Royal Commission: The Difference Silence Makes


William D. Lindsey

As Christina Keneally has reported for The Guardian, in his testimony before the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson minced no words. He excoriated the silence of the powerful pope John Paul II, and said that Pope Francis has not provided “real leadership” regarding child sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

Keneally’s summary of Robinson’s testimony:

When the Australian government becomes aware of the extent of child sexual abuse in institutions, it holds a royal commission with open hearings.

When the leadership of the Catholic church becomes aware of the extent of child sexual abuse, it designs secretive processes to protect the institution and spins to its priests that there are worse sins than sexually abusing children, such as abortion or homicide.

Unfortunately, people like the influential Catholic journalist Michael Sean Winters, who writes for National Catholic Reporter and who loves to sort Catholics into rigid, neatly defined sets of left and right and sheep and goats, still don’t get the problem. These influential spokespeople for the Catholic center, who want to exercise their influence by reading many fellow Catholics (especially those to the left of center) out of their definition of Catholicism and out of the conversation defining Catholic identity, keep offering us as bona fide Catholicism a strange mix of papal adulation (of papolatry, to be precise) and biblical-catechetical fundamentalism that turns biblical formulas, and the very words used in them, into sacred shibboleths whose meaning and cultural determination theologians are forbidden to investigate.

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