Doogue, Brereton on keeping faith in the face of the abuse crisis

By Peter Kirkwood
Eureka Street
August 4, 2015

[with video]

A few months have passed since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sat in Ballarat. Witnesses there, including paedophile and former priest, Gerald Ridsdale, spoke of some of the most horrific cases of abuse in the Catholic Church.

The Commission will continue hearings about the situation in the Ballarat Diocese in November. It confirmed at the end of last week that former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns will be compelled to take the stand. Cardinal George Pell is also expected to give evidence then.

The ongoing revelations about sexual abuse in the Church have had a drastic effect on believers, forcing some to turn away from the institution, and demoralising many who remain.

In this edition of Eureka Street TV two journalists who are practising believers — one a cradle Catholic and the other a recent convert — speak candidly about the effect of the sexual abuse crisis on their faith. In their professional lives, both have reported on different aspects of the crisis.

Geraldine Doogue is one of Australia's most highly respected journalists. She was born into an Irish Catholic family in Perth. Her parents were pillars of the Church, and it formed the centre of their social and spiritual lives. She attended Catholic schools and has remained a committed Catholic all her life.

Her career as a journalist and broadcaster began in the early 1970s with a cadetship at The West Australian newspaper. She went on to have stints at The Australian, Radio 2UE, Channel 10 and ABC TV and Radio. She currently hosts Radio National's Saturday Extra and ABC TV's Compass.

27-year-old Adam Brereton is opinion editor of The Guardian Australia. Before this he wrote for a student paper at the Australian National University in Canberra and for New Matilda.

He was born in Hong Kong and baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church. He grew up in Braidwood near Canberra, and in Sydney where he attended the Uniting Church's Knox Grammar School.

For most of his life he was an atheist, but in his early 20s, largely through reading Catholic writers like G. K. Chesterton, Les Murray and Graham Greene, he became interested in Catholicism.

In 2012 he entered the RCIA Program (Rite of Christian Initiation as an Adult) in Brunswick Catholic parish in Melbourne. But in the course of reporting on sexual abuse in the Church he became disillusioned, dropped out of the program and began attending a High Anglican Church.

This year however, mainly under the influence of some Catholic priests who have become mentors, he returned to the Catholic Church, and will be received formally into the Church at the end of this month.


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