News of decades-old abuse by Catholic priests in Australia has now reached down under. The breathless reporting by Australian media, however, presages a media narrative in which reason, facts, and logic are ignored, and the media feeds on sensationalism, exaggeration, and anti-Catholic bigotry.
Amidst the report that a "Royal Commission" will look into "institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia," a small number of voices are now airing the view that an ugly anti-Catholicism is beginning to fill the air.
An inquiry that could be "useless, unfair and anti-Catholic"
In an opinion piece (also here) that appeared in a number of major media outlets in Australia, pundit Andrew Bolt sees the commission's inquiry simply becoming an excuse for an ugly "anti-Catholic crusade":
Bolt exposes the hidden agenda behind the media's sensational coverage:
"I agree, we need a royal commission into the sexual abuse of children. The air must be cleared.
"Yet this royal commission called by the Prime Minister already risks going badly off the rails and becoming not a force for good, but of cultural destruction …
"Many in the largely anti-clerical media want to use this excuse to smash a church which lectures on modesty, duty, faithfulness and other fun-killers …
"And already we have journalists and politicians demanding priests betray the confessional if they hear someone admit to child abuse.
"It would be a tragedy if the Catholic Church was to be broken by this inquiry. There are few, if any, organisations that have inspired so many Australians to build and run schools, hospitals, hospices and services for the homeless.
"Destroy this church, the one that has best survived the decay of faith, and I doubt the Greens will pick up the slack and tend to the sick or minister to the poor."
Bolt also added:
"We should be far more concerned with stopping the abuse of children today than with spending millions to recall the abuse by priests now dead, jailed or too old to be dangerous.
"Churches no longer are – if they ever were – where the worst child sex abuse occurs. Aboriginal communities are."
Bolt's article is a must-read in full.
Where does the road lead?
Another important piece is by Alexander Downey, a former foreign affairs minister. Downey writes that the Inquiry is simply a pretext for atheists to bash Christianity:
"Although the this will be a broad-ranging inquiry not confined to any church or institution, the Catholic Church has been singled out in public commentary, letters to the editor and so on. It's been an excuse for atheists to let loose against Christianity and sectarians to attack the church's beliefs and traditions."
How will events in Australia pan out? Will the Commission treat the Catholic Church honestly and fairly?
As always, stay tuned.