OPINION | It's time for action, not wordplay

MORE THAN WORDS: The church policy on child abuse seems to be bound up in balancing its traditions with a desire to better protect kids. How about a re-evaluation of priorities? Kids are more important than man-made rules.
MORE THAN WORDS: The church policy on child abuse seems to be bound up in balancing its traditions with a desire to better protect kids. How about a re-evaluation of priorities? Kids are more important than man-made rules.

Go and hang a millstone around your neck and jump in the nearest ocean.

That was the advice Christ had for child abusers.

A child abuser who dresses as a clergyman and uses religion as a cover should need an even bigger millstone and an even deeper ocean.

Jesus also had a fair bit to say about church hypocrites, warning us repeatedly against strutting pharisees.

In fact, there are plenty of quotes from Jesus to be found in the Bible, but never once have I ever seen these quotes from Christ:

“Priests shalt not marry” or “Priests shalt not be women”.

Yet, come hell or high water, the Catholic Church will die in a ditch defending those two things (that Christ never said), despite systematically ignoring or covering up evil crimes that Christ DID speak about.

The recent Royal Commission bore witness to abuses on a weaponised scale and now the world’s third highest-ranking Catholic sits in a prison cell.

His conservative defenders are pushing the line that Pell is innocent but I'd rather trust the judgement of a jury that actually sat through all the evidence.

But waiting for a legal appeal against, um, “vanilla” crimes is one thing…

Waiting for the Catholic Church to actually take firm and concrete action to end this evil is another.

Enough is enough.

Married clergy...and women clergy...would be a way ahead.

Many of us have had it with the empty apologies and PR stunts (such as the recent Vatican summit). I’ve lost all faith in the church.

I’m not talking about the good priests, the true Christians in our local parishes, and certainly not in general our Catholic schools, and the deep and genuine duty of care shown by so many local principals and teachers.

I also admire the extensive community service of the Catholic Club, and organisations such as Vinnies and Father Riley’s Youth off the Streets. These services and causes often inspire me.

It’s the church itself, an institution I once trusted, that does the opposite.

All the bells and smells in the world can’t hide what the Royal Commission revealed; a stench of systematic cover-ups, moving abusers from parish to parish, and all the shallow words of its responses so far. Talk is cheap.

The only way I’ll ever take the church seriously again if it takes concrete steps to address the problem of child abuse. And that starts with concrete first steps such as:  

1. Allowing priests to marry and have normal sex lives.

2. Allowing women to be priests.

It won’t cure the evil, but it will go a long way to getting ‘normal’ people into the priesthood. Even Pell made a grudging admission that celibacy might be “a factor” in the abuse of children.

(I’ve always found it weird that the one physical qualification you need to become a priest, is the one physical appendage you’re not supposed to use after you become a priest.)

And as for women, I would have much-preferred to hear a Mary Mackillop preaching the Gospel than the dopey men she was forced to obey.

Please don’t bother sending me canon law, papal decrees, or lengthy justifications of why people without a penis can’t preach the Gospel, or tell me Christ was a man and wasn’t married. (Christ also wore sandals and rode a donkey, but priests can, strangely enough, wear shoes and drive cars).

In the end, that's just more wordplay, not action.

When it all boils down, what’s more important? Protecting man-made dogma based on things Christ never mentioned …. or improving the safety of our kids, something Christ said a lot about.