Tuesday, 31 July 2007

When an apology is not what's needed

Sorry is often never enough. It is especially inadequate when either the Church or a churchman is made to apologise. It would appear so in the latest mega-scandal to hit the Church. It's not sexual abuse, it's not Church-state relations and it's not even about a mass exodus of the faithful- it's about a priest telling some kids to get off the Church lawn.

Now allegedly he did use some pretty colourful vocabulary in telling the kids where to go, some rather unacceptable descriptions in telling them how to get there and some rather abrasive metaphors for why they should go there. None of which is acceptable, but really- trial by media?

Now if you or I were telling some skateboarding foul mouth kid to 'bugger off' (if either of us were Australian) nothing would come of it. I couldn't imagine that the next day your outburst would be highlighted on Youtube, your face and name splashed across every newspaper in the country and when you went to work the next day you would find that you were suspended from your job.

Apparently however, if you are a Catholic priest you would be. And you are.

Some of the greatest damage the media does to society is not just the rampant half-truths and social engineering, it's that it forces each one of us to exist in his own little world. We have become so scared by the media's portrayal of society that we don't have the courage to raise our heads or lift our voices in protest. We feel that everyone thinks about issues in the same way as the media portrays them and so we never have the courage to say 'what a lot of garbage!' We know it's rubbush, we just don't think anyone else does.

The most revealing thing about this whole business is that no one ever said that the kids using the front steps of a Church as a skateboard ramp where young children and old people walk or calling the priest a pedophile was wrong. Not one word of reprimand for the youths involved.

Such is the absurdity of the situation that you had the Victorian premier "unreservedly apologisng for the unacceptable comments." But to whom and on behalf of what authority? Is he apologising on behalf of the Almighty? The Church? Hmmm... Church-State relations...

Now I am not defending the language used by the priest, but I am certainly not going to let him swing at the end of the media's noose simply because it is another opportunity to surround the Church in controversy.

It takes a lot of courage to stand against the crowd of those too willing to swallow whatever is fed them. What is it telling us that those kids first line of attack against the priest was to call him a pedophile and yet no one said that was wrong, stereotypical, judgmental or even scandalous? Apparently that was OK. After all, all priests are pedophiles? Right? So what does it matter? Evidently it doesn't.

I do have one question though: where were all those critics when the priest needed a hand dealing with the situation? Sorry they were busy filming.

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