The dangers of being Catholic in Australia


As Christmas is approaching, it’s time for Christians, especially Catholics, to look back on the turbulent years. Those who are even a little interested in spiritual things know that Christianity, especially Catholicism, is threatened.

The threat is, at least in part, the result of the inability of the Catholic Church and its leaders to support moral foundations and beliefs of faith. This is especially true when these conflict with the demands of an increasingly secular world.

Legislative attempts in some Australian states to remove the exemptions from religious schools and charities and hire people of their faith have been received by Australian Catholics (and in fact all Christian churches). It is just one example of relentless persecution.

Religious persecution, a global phenomenon, takes many forms. It ranges from complete contempt for the spiritual mission of religion to violent repression of religious activity.

The former is illustrated by a recent revision of the Australian curriculum, evaluation and reporting agency (ACARA) high school curriculum, ignoring the Christian heritage of Australia.

The latter can be explained by the vicious persecution of Chinese Falun Gong and Uighurs, or by the religious minorities of Iran and Yemen, where members of the Bahai faith are horribly imprisoned.

The devaluation of the Western world against the importance of the role of religion must necessarily affect its ability, or even motivation, to condemn the persecution of people of religion and religion.

In Australia, Catholic priests are victims of brigades that “listen, hear, and believe.”

Of course, the most notable example is the attribution of historical sexual abuse crimes to Cardinal George Pell.

Since then, the High Court has blamed him completely.

But Cardinal Pell’s case is just one example of what can happen to a person’s reputation when a sexual improper allegation is made against him.

Epoch Times Photo
Cardinal George Pell will leave the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne, Australia on May 1, 2018. (Michael Dodge / Getty Images)

Another case is Catholic priest John Ambrose, who has been the subject of a fierce campaign by The Advertiser / Sunday Mail, the Adelaide newspaper of the Murdoch Media Empire, since 2008 and cannot trust his character. , Hurting his reputation by blaming him. Of historical sex crimes.

However, these claims are unfounded and unbelievable.

He sued the advertiser / Sunday Mail for publishing defamatory material about him, even though police did not pursue the issue.

However, Fleming first lost the defamation proceedings. This was a decision endorsed by the Supreme Court of South Australia, and the High Court decided not to intervene twice.

The case of Pell and Fleming is a spectacular story that shows that unsubstantiated claims of sexual improperness can irreparably destroy a person’s reputation.

These cases assume that hostile policy makers and trendsetters uncritically assume that you are definitely guilty if you are a Catholic priest because of your relationship with the Catholic Church. I have made it clear.

Indeed, if a Catholic priest is accused of a serious sexual offense, he is considered guilty.

Of course, clergy abused their position of trust by caring for young girls and boys, serving their terrible sexual interests, and horribly treating the children who care for them. It may be.

However, assuming that all clergy must necessarily be guilty for their relationship with the Catholic Church is a good example of today’s religious persecution in Australia and around the world.

The court’s ruling, which made unfavorable comments on the actions of Catholic priests, is an example of crude utilitarianism.

Utilitarian proponents may look at the judge’s decision in the relevant case and, considering the outcome of the decision, conclude that it brings measurable benefits to society.

These benefits include the expectation that society will be a safer place for impressive young people, even if innocent people are occasionally convicted.

But such an approach distorts the rule of law and innocent people need to be free.

Nonetheless, this utilitarian approach has become very popular these days, and those who say they are victims of sexual abuse, especially in the days of #MeToo, say, “Listen, listen, believe. I try not to accept the mantra critically. Regardless of the validity of their claim, it is inevitably believed.

Such claims prove to be true in some cases, but it is clear that they are fictitious stories, either because of the claimant’s memory error or because the claims are malicious or vengeful. There is always the possibility.

Epoch Times Photo
On September 28, 2018, activists and supporters of sexual abuse survivors gather at the Federal Building Plaza to protest the confirmation of Supreme Court candidate Brett Cabano in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

One of the issues in the proceedings is related to the burden of proof in defamation cases.

Since the complainant should always be believed, the responsibility to prove that the accused is not guilty of sexual abuse shifts to the plaintiff.

This is a breach of the Briginshaw rule developed by the High Court of Australia in 1938 and consistently applied in all Australian jurisdictions except South Australia.

The only case in which the judge ruled that the Briginshaw did not apply was Fleming’s case.

South Australia Supreme Court comment “The reference to Briginshaw as establishing” responsibility “or” standards “is incorrect. In addition, some of the high court proceedings mentioned do not mention that Briginshaw established the “principles.” “

In the case of Fleming, he is a Catholic priest, so it is reasonable to speculate that the Briginshaw has not been applied.

If so, the presumption of innocence did not apply to him, so he had to prove his innocence.

The appeal to Australian political rulers to regain the right to religious freedom seems to be the only option left for Catholics (and other Christians).

However, experience has shown that politicians are usually uninterested in maintaining religious freedom and, more importantly, behind the excuse that they cannot interfere with the work of judges so as not to violate the principle of separation of powers. It may be hidden in.

How Current disagreement The coalition government’s religious discrimination bill, which includes a “folau clause” introduced by Senator Michelia Cash, will resolve even if it is illegal to dismiss a person for making religion-inspired comments. ..

Obvious religious persecution in Australia can ultimately have fatal consequences for applying the rule of law.

Indeed, if people’s beliefs are exposed to persistent secular attacks, a significant deterioration in the application of the rule of law will be observed over time.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Gabriel Moens


GabriĆ«l A. MoensAM is an emeritus professor at the University of Queensland and vice president and dean of Murdoch University. In 2003, Moens was awarded the Australian Centennial Model by the Prime Minister for services to education. He has taught extensively in Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States. Moens has also recently published novels such as “A Twisted Choice”, short stories, and “The Greedy Prospector” in the “The Outback” anthology (Boolarong Press, 2021).