The witchhunt against the Cardinal
Lack of understanding of child abuse
From Mr Anthony Hesketh Sir, As a former Probation Officer (1983-1997), I write to support K.Kavanagh's letter regarding the lack of understanding of child sex abuse in the 1980s (November 29). Indeed the Criminal Justice System as a whole did not comprehend the obsessive/compulsive nature of paedophilia and I have witnessed many offenders who were dealt with by Magistrates on the basis that they were remorseful and the offences were thought to be the result of stress! Some sex offenders were placed on probation orders but throughout the 1980s and indeed beyond, there was no systematic approach to dealing with the risks posed by these men.
I specifically recall one case whereby a man was placed on a probation order after two similar offences by him in the preceding years. He had been dealt with by a police caution and a conditional discharge, both very lenient disposals. I can also state unequivocally that this was not an isolated incident. Surely, therefore, the victims of such men could equally be angry at the Criminal Justice System for failing to protect them properly.
In this light, I consider it unjust and unfair to single out Catholic bishops so harshly for their failure to prevent child sex abusers from continuing on their damaging train of behaviour. Thankfully the situation has now improved in all sections of society and we are more aware of the real nature of the problem and thus we are able to protect children more effectively from these predatory men.
One can only hope that the Police /Probation Service/ Courts and Crown Prosecution Service are similarly minded to follow the Catholic Church's example in offering apologies and compensation to victims for failing to understand and act upon, paedophilic behaviour prior to the 1990s.
Yours faithfully, ANTHONY HESKETH, [email protected]
Freemasonry and the Church
From Mr Gerard Han ratty Sir, I was intrigued to read your news report concerning the appointment of Michael Dewar as a PR consultant to the United From Mr Kevin Marsh
Sir, Your editorial entitled "The witchhunt against Cardinal Cormac" which was directed at BBC Radio 4's Today programme and its reporting of sexual abuse by priests was inaccurate in every significant respect — and apparently out of tune with the Cardinal's contrition on such matters as expressed last week.
Your editorial accused Today of presenting "the contents of anonymous letters as though they constituted serious evidence" of sexual abuse. This is incorrect: moreover, you were told this was incorrect but chose to ignore that information.
Your editorial accused Today of presenting the abuses that took place 16 years ago (not 18 as you incorrectly wrote) as paedophile abuse. This is incorrect. The programme did not do so.
Your editorial argues that only "in the context of a genuine case of child abuse" would the Cardinal be expected to remove a priest from active ministry — implying that a priest who admits a (then) criminal offence of indecent assault on a minor should suffer no such sanction. It would be difficult to conclude from his public statements that this would be the Cardinal's view.
Your editorial claims that Clifford Longley's contribution to Today was made only on the basis of a guarantee that his contribution would remain unedited. This is incorrect.
No such assurance was given: moreover, the element that you claim was cut from the interview was not. The only material edited was done so on the strict instructions of lawyers.
To conclude, our report was Grand Lodge of England. I was also interested to learn that His Lordship Bishop Lindsay gave dispensations to Catholics to become Freemasons in the 1970s. I would like to think that this is not true because, at the time, membership of any Masonic lodge incurred the penalty of automatic excommunication. Perhaps Bishop Lindsay may like to clear up this matter for us as it does paint him in rather an interesting light.
Your report went on to state that Mr Dewar is a member of the Knights of Malta. I would like to think that Mr Dewar's opinions of English Masonry are not entirely in accordance with the BBC's high standards of journalistic integrity and accuracy.
Yours faithfully, KEVIN MARSH, Editor, BBC Radio 4 Today programme
Mr Marsh says that The Catholic Herald was informed that the charge that Today had presented "the contents of anonymous letters as though they constituted serious evidence" was incorrect, but that we chose to ignore this: but nobody here has any knowledge of any such claim having been made to us. And it can hardly be denied that an anonymous letter was directly quoted on air, and credence given to its contents.
We acknowledge our error over the time-lapse involved: the case took place 16 years ago not 18; but this is not a matter that bears on the questions discussed either in the programme or in our response to it.
The implication by Today that the case mentioned in the second programme was at least equivalent to a paedophile case was clear from the accusation that the Cardinal had been inconsistent (and possibly even hypocritical) in claiming that today cases of child abuse, under Nolan, would result in a priest's being removed from parish ministry, though he himself had not removed the priest mentioned in your report: but the Cardinal's statement had been made in the clear context of cases ofpaedophile abuse. And if Today
representative of the views of this venerable organisation. Now is surely a good opportunity for an authoritative figure, within the Knights, to restate their opposition to the Grand Lodge.
I regret to inform Mr Dewar that his support for the organisation is based on a fundamental misconception. His assumption that the organisation is completely secular, does ring true (in so far as it has encouraged secularism). However, it most definitely aspires to a religious status. When members of the fraternity reach the fourth degree, they are initiated into one of the great secrets of Masonry: the name of the god,
had no intention to blur the distinction between paedophilia and adult homosexuality why was it Michelle Eliot of Kidscape who was invited on the programme to indict the Cardinal? What actually did emerge from the Nolan procedures in this case was the finding that the priest in question was not a threat to children. The Cardinal therefore, in view of the priest's evidently sincere contrition and the facts that there had been no repetition and that there was no question of criminal charges, allowed his ministry to continue. We believe that he was right to do so.
Clifford Longley told us that "what I said that was not transmitted was that this was not a case of paedophilia but a case of homosexual interaction that went wrong. That was reprehensible, I said, but it was not paedophilia". This omission, obviously not made for legal reasons, clearly made the presentation of his case less effective and thus strengthened the programme's indictment of the Cardinal. Paedophilia was an issue. Clifford Longley also told us that he intends to make a complaint against the BBC; what was agreed with him is therefore a matter to be argued elsewhere.
— Editor From Mr Michael McGowan
Sir, Others have already condemned the vicious attacks on the Archbishop of Westminster by The Times and the BBC. Both the Times and the BBC are now leading members of an aggressively anti-clerical media. The same is
they worship. In fact it is a composite god, made up of Jahweh, Baal, and Osiris.
Yours faithfully, GERARD HANRATTY, London SW10 9DR
Rolf Harris and the Reformation
From Mr David Taylor
Sir, What a pleasure to read Patrick Reyntiens' defence of Rolf Harris (Dec 6). It was unfair only in that Rolf wasn't attempt true of the Guardian and the Independent. In the eyes of such newspapers, the real crime of the Catholic Church is to be on the wrong side of the politically correct divide.
Child abuse by a small minority of priests is merely a convenient excuse for smearing and vilifying the Church and its leaders. Hence the BBC and these newspapers are quite relaxed about children being abused in other ways by earlier exposure to drugs, alcohol and sexually transmitted diseases.
The Times already has "previous", witness its character assassination of some of the candidates for Archbishop of Canterbury, especially Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester. It was only a matter of time before it made common cause with the Witchfinders-General of the child abuse industry (many of whom are making a fine living out of abuserelated litigation).
After all, The Times' sister paper, the News of the World incited a violent mob to target suspected paedophiles.
A vigorous condemnation by the Bishops of this lynching-by-media is long overdue. They should also be dealing urgently with the Nolan Report's failure to provide adequate safeguards for priests against false and malicious accusations.
Yours faithfully, MICHAEL MCGOWAN, Woldingham, Surrey From Mr Eric Hester
Sir, The Catholic Herald is to be
ing pastiche, he was demonstrating techniques, and the whole point of the exhibition was the unexpected quality of the results. But to associate Rolf with G.K.Chesterton (himself a multitalented humourist and illustrator) in a Catholic newspaper in the context of celebrating the saints (ie role models for Christians) was one of those happy events which themselves need celebrating.
Patrick's account of the devastation at the Reformation was passed on as an apt rejoinder to a fine economist already arguing for appreciation of his subject's history. Economics did not start congratulated on its coverage of what you rightly call "the witch hunt against Cardinal Cormac". Most Catholic lay people will agree with you that his Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster should not even contemplate resigning at the behest of the BBC, though those who have so badly advised him over the years should consider their positions.
Here in Catholic Lancashire, many are critical of some things that the leaders of the Church in England have done over the last few years but an attack on our Cardinal is something quite different. I know of no one here who thinks that his Eminence should resign.
As you also say in your fine leading article, the statement of the Bishop of Portsmouth, chairman of the Communications Committee of the Bishops* Conference and former President of the Episcopal Media Panel of the European Bishops, is very curious. Recently his Lordship has chosen, in an interview, to refer, twice, to the BBC as a "blessing".
That his Lordship has not changed his mind is clear since his Lordship restated this view of the BBC in a letter to me as recently as 26th November, at the height of the "witch hunt". However, in my letter I had asked his Lordship to state which BBC programme his Lordship found especially good — and that part of my letter was unanswered.
Yours faithfully ERIC HESTER Bolton BL1 5HS
7F-Wn Dr Ed Smith, Sir, I have just become aware through your website of the perni
with Adam Smith or even Henry VIII's reintroduction of usury. "Medieval society had a quality, since hopelessly lost, of co-operation, [not least] between duties and celebrations...".
Yours faithfully , D J TAYLOR, Malvern Link, Worcs WR14 2RZ
Main and the French
From Soeur Marie Odile
Sir, I strongly object to the subtitle given to the review of
cious assault on the Church. Has any of the laity there considered bringing an action for libel against the BBC and the Times?
Yours faithfully , EDWARD SMITH, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada From Mr David Belton
Sir, The Catholic Herald (November 22) referred to Sir John Birt (former Director General of the BBC) speaking of "a lingering anti-Catholic bias" at the BBC. The more recent edition (November 29) highlights and deplores the scurrilous and, indeed, unjust personal attack on Cardinal Murphy O'Connor made by the BBC on their radio programme Today during the course of last week. In addition. in the same issue, there is an article which refers to the intention of the BBCto screen an animated spoof cartoon — Popetown in which the Pontiff is depicted as senile and infantile.
This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs and there must be some sort of positive, but legal, response that can be made by those who are deeply offended by the actions of the BBC. Could not The Catholic Herald orchestrate a positive response within the Catholic press generally? What about notable Catholic organisations — The Catenians, the SVP, the Catholic Womens League etc? Surely if all those who are appalled by the current attitude of the BBC towards the Cardinal and to the Catholic Church in general were to respond in unison it would have some sort of effect.
We just cannot let the situation develop by default. Evil will flourish if good people do nothing.
Your faithfully, DAVID RELTON, [email protected] Michael Curtis' book on page 10 of the last Catholic Herald ("The French people were not split over the pro-German rule of Marshal Main", 29 November).
The French people were split over Marshal Petain's rule and most of them hated him for being Hitler's puppet and allowing so many people to be deported and killed. The euphoria about "Petain saviour of France" in 1940 only lasted a few weeks. "Vichy" which was famous for its curative water has become for the French of my generation synonymous with "treason".
I know, because I was there.
Yours faithfully, SOEUR MARIE ODILE, [email protected]