what’s old, what’s new

These, in Timbuktu, are the next to go, following the policies of destruction by fundamentalists applied to the Bamiyan Buddhas, the National Museum of Iraq and the Kabul Museum.

Last night ABC Oz ran a doco on the long term effects of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. In one instance a priest sodomised a 10 year old boy, without warning, without preparation. The boy and another victim of this priest were eventually awarded damages amounting to AUD $300 thousand, all of which later subsidised the heroin industry. All that is inevitable but what was worse was that 3 senior priests of the Australian Catholic hierarchy interviewed the priest who admitted to performing indictable offences against these boys for which he should now be moldering in a prison cell. Instead, as he has no criminal record, he is currently employed by the federal govt to survey families in their homes. Cardinal Pell, the ultimate authority and voice of catholic authority repeated the lies of the committee of three, that of course is what CEO’s do, mouth the line taken by their trusted underlings. By comparison, in the USA a bishop is now serving time behind bars for not reporting serious child sexual abuse. I know one particular bishop of central Qld who should be watching his back. He interviewed the pedo priest who systematically abused my primary school class of 10 year olds. A fellow complainant against the offender Leonard John O’Rourke, who is now in a nursing home bed for retired clergy in southern Qld, told us the bishop admitted that O’Rourke confessed to his crimes during the interview. His first words to the bishop had been “I’ve been waiting for this moment for years”. As the last stage of the reconciliation process we all had a discussion with the bishop, each complainant separately, plus his lawyer, a mediator the bishop and his aide, an insurance consultant ironically. I immediately dismissed the convenor’s concept of helpful conversational guidance. I asked whether the bishop had interviewed the perpetrator. Yes. Had he confessed? No!! Had the bishop subsequently spoken to another complainant Gary, who lived in the same town as the bishop? Yes. Had the bishop admitted that the perp had confessed? No. Had the bishop’s last words been, If the complainant went to the police, the bishop would deny everything? No. When had the Bish spoken to the perp? This morning at the nursing home. Why was the perp not defrocked? The bishop had considered that he had suffered sufficiently.

When my dad discovered the sexual instruction given to myself, and my older & younger brother he ran to the priest house, saying: Oh my god he has Peter [my immediately younger brother] in detention in his room. He got to the house [situated next door to the church and across the road from the primary school]; my brother ran down the steps crying, Dad, he wanted to measure my dick but I wouldn’t let him. O’Rourke tried to placate dad saying: Come inside Ted and let’s talk this over. Dad said: So you can measure my dick too?

Dad’s last words were that he would return with the hunting rifle if the priest ever came near one of my brothers. That night, O’Rourke left the parish. His transfer to another parish was recorded in a transfer book kept by the bishop. I was now told in the interview that this rather important document of parish goings on could not be located. The central Qld bishop told me it had been moved to Brisbane, where it had gone missing.

Watching the sufferers of child sexual abuse last night, I came to the politically incorrect conclusion that being gay had helped me cope with the mechanism of what had happened sexually. Years later, during periods of central Qld isolation, I fantasised about the events and relived them. To an extent this made me feel complicit, especially as my first sexual experience to orgasm was at the hands of my older brother, later I also regrettably involved my younger bro in this activity. Of the three of us, he has had the most difficulty coming to terms with the situation. While my classmates experimented freely amongst ourselves, later they grew to identify as hetero. Homosexual activity was criminally stigmatised and socially taboo. In my family I was shunned by my bros as a result.

So it must have been difficult for these hetero boys to cope with their memories. In the case of Father F of Armidale he sodomised his victims, and that must have been a further violation, an intrusion into the body of his victims.

That is the current backstory of the Australian catholic church; the organisation needs to repeal its anti marriage stance. Pedo priests interviewed in the USA freely admitted that they resented the sexual abstinence being imposed on them and considered altar boys as their entitlement. The catholic hierarchy is in denial also about its responsibility before the law; it must no longer be allowed to evade the fullest cooperation with police.

Which brings me to the happenings in Mali. I have recently read the discourses of Rumi the Persian sufi; his comments on homosexuality deserve a separate chapter. But when we look at the goings on in Islamic countries, the gruesome beheadings by masked terrorists, the daily hangings in Mashhad Iran, the only conclusion that can be reached is that the evolutionary stage that Islam is currently at is the Inquisition of renaissance Europe. People’s lives are constantly threatened by the fundamentalists, but even buildings are under threat. In Timbuktoo the buildings that UNESCO has deemed of world heritage value are threatened by fundamentalists with demolition. They are seen as shrines, their idolatrous status is irreconcilable with a fundamentalist world view. Religion, religion.

Why can’t we just all get along?


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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