OPINION: 30 priests did nothing to call out abuse

Letter to the editor by Frank Lightfoot:

THIRTY priests did nothing to end the child abuse committed by one Rockhampton Catholic priest during 25 years of offending. 1500 times Father Michael McArdle confessed. 

The 30 different priests who heard his confessions over those 25 years did nothing (Chrissie Foster SMH).

I made a sign about the abuse and sat in Mary Street with it but the response was mediocre.  

It was a poorly worded low quality sign.

I changed the opening line to "30 priests did nothing" and took my sign to St. Patrick's Church Gympie. 

The reaction there was vastly different, and very hostile. 

I assume most of the St Pat's parishioners had no idea about the 30 priests who sat on their hands for up to 40 years. 

It has been 15 years since Father McArdle was in court.

Lately, the church has been pushing the story that it is rare for a priest to hear a confession of child rape or other child sexual abuse. 

1500 confessions to 30 priests over 25 years would suggest to me that the church is telling yet more lies.  

The Royal Commission heard that 7% of priests are accused of child sexual abuse. 40% of one particular clergy group have been accused of child sexual abuse. 

Therefore I can not imagine that the McArdle matter would have been the only one where a priest heard someone confess to child abuse. 

The confessional should not be yet another layer of cover up.

The well being of defenceless children must come before the retaining of the church's position or assets. 

No hocus pocus from the confessional or dark ages should stand in the way of protecting children. 

How many of the 30 priests ended up in Gympie to hear the confessions of child abuse from other alleged abusers in Gympie? 

Archbishop Mark Coleridge said: "There has been no compelling evidence to suggest that legal abolition of the seal of confession will help in that regard." 

30 priests and 1500 confessions suggest the Archbishop just doesn't get it either.  

Children have suicided over being abused by priests, so we must do what we can to reduce the risks. 

The compulsory reporting of child abuse by priests must be implemented. 

For a child to go to confession is itself a risk as too many priests offended in the confessional box. 

There are multitudes of Catholics who do great works of charity, but the absurdities of some Catholic beliefs are not victimless.

Those beliefs tie people to the dark ages and the women and children are hit the hardest. 

The 30 priests could have withheld forgiveness until McArdle had undertaken treatment to prove he was sincere in his contrition.

If the Catholic Church can not, or will not reform and bring in compulsory reporting we should encourage them to close by removing all government concessions and slowly phasing out all financial assistance to Catholic schools. 

Frank Lightfoot,

Veteran

Gympie Times


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