Priestly 'costume' injustice
Father Brendan Lee assures us that “whenever any talk about sexual abuse is raised, my thoughts go first to the victims” (“Believe me, us priests are horrified too”, Bendigo Advertiser, Opinion, March 6). Lee unoriginally also contends that “the practice of a minority of the ministers of God doing great evil dates back to the very beginnings of Christianity” and that “such events can also cause the Church to be purified, humbled and to become more compassionate”.
Australians of all walks of life know that the facts and the extent of institutionalised sexual criminality within the Catholic Church spans generations. We know that there has existed a clerical culture of depravity and cover-up predicated upon the complete destruction of victims, their families and their advocates. We also know that, repeatedly, we are reassured that this self-serving clerical culture can reflect and change … except that it never does. Once again, the faithful and the wider community are asked to wait and to trust in change from within, whilst traumatised victims continue to live blighted lives of untold misery, often unto death.
It is not surprising, nor is it unjust that Lee should feel vulnerable whilst disporting himself publicly in his “priest costume”. Many years ago, early into my career as a psychiatric nurse, I worked on an inpatient specialist unit which cared for a high population of elderly Holocaust survivors suffering from various forms of dementia. Usually nurses are positively and reassuringly readily identified by their uniforms. Not so amongst this particular population. For them our nurse “costumes” were often symbolic of terrifying authority – so we did not wear them, in order to avoid compounding life-long trauma and to express our common humanity and solidarity with our patients, on their terms. A simple act of respect for the reality of vulnerable people.
Some advice for you Father Lee: when next your thoughts go first to victims, let it result in a removal of your priest costume, as it likely does represent, for them, unspeakable betrayal, violence and injustice. That, surely, would be a true act of the humility and compassion you so easily write about. After all, I seem to recall that Jesus Christ himself was apparently none to complementary to those who liked to wear their phylacteries long and their fringes broad.
Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk
Toilets 'a disgrace'
The Jack Comini rest area at Ravenswood is an asset for travellers. But on visiting the place the current cleanliness of the toilet facilities are a disgrace.
The stainless steel walls, doors and wash basins look like they have been wiped over with a dirty dish cloth. It's about time someone from Vic Roads mets with the cleaners/contactors and either gets them to do their job properly or hire some who will take a responsible attitude for cleaning the facilities. As I said, it is an asset but on current conditions will soon become a liability.
Frank Ward, Ravenswood
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