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Last month, the Catholic Archbishop of Queensland, Mark Coleridge voiced his opposition to calls for Priests to become mandatory reporters, a move that would destroy the seal of the confessional. Coleridge warned that forcing Priests to break the seal of the confessional would have the effect of turning them into “agents of the state” rather than “servants of God.”
That, of course, is precisely the point. It is beyond doubt that many of the accusations of child abuse leveled against the Church have been well-founded. It is also beyond doubt that the Catholic Church has not always responded to such accusations with the seriousness they ought to have. However, it would be equally true to claim that the spectre of child abuse has been used as an excuse to conjure up anti-Catholicism.
Of the 409 individual recommendations generated by the Royal Commission on Child Abuse, several are targeted directly at religious institutions (and the Catholic Church specifically). First, it has been recommended that Priests be mandated to report confessions of child abuse. Second, that children’s confessions should occur in a public place where Priest and child can be observed by an adult. Third, that “the Australian Catholic Church should request permission from the Vatican to introduce voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy.” Fourth, that candidates for religious ministry undergo independent psychological evaluation. And fifth, that “any person in religious ministry who is the subject of a complaint of child sex abuse which is sustained, or who is convicted of an offence relating the child sex abuse, should be permanently removed from ministry.”
Such proposals are not only impractical, but dangerous. They would have the effect of not only destroying the seal of the confessional, but of destroying the separation of Church and State. It would give the authorities the power to place the Church under observation and to stack it with clergymen who support their political and social agenda.
Nobody says anything about this blatant disregard for our most common civil liberties and democratic values. The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church has always been an easy target. It is neither progressive nor nationalistic making it a target of condemnation for both the far left and the far right. The far left hates the Catholic Church because it stands in favour of traditionalism. The far-right hates members of the Catholic Church because they see it as something akin to fealty to a foreign power.
And like all bigots, anti-Catholics have chosen to target and destroy a high-profile target. Cardinal George Pell has become a scapegoat for child sex abuse committed within the Catholic Church. The mainstream media has been quick to paint Pell as a power-mad, sexually depraved Cardinal rather than the reformer that he actually was.
As Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell was instrumental in instigating investigations into allegations of child abuse and providing compensation for victims. That, however, made not the slightest difference, nor did the improbability of the accusations. (As Pell’s own defence team pointed out: not only did the security and layout of Melbourne’s Catholic Cathedral render such abuse impossible, Pell had no opportunity to commit such crimes). When he was accused of abusing two boys in the 1990s, Pell’s guilt was assumed for no other reason than that he was a Catholic Archbishop.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge is right to criticise anti-religious measures embedded in the Royal Commission’s report. The reality is that Australia’s modern, secular institutions are focused primarily on destroying the influence of the Catholic Church in Australia. The idea that they care about the safety and well-being of children is patently absurd.
Moore had previously garnered notoriety for his actions as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court. In 2003, he was temporarily removed from his position after he refused to remove the Ten Commandments from Alabama’s State Capitol building. Moore was reappointed to the position in 2013, only to be suspended in 2015 for refusing to enforce the Obergefell v. Hodges decision to legally recognise same-sex unions.
Moore’s victory has caused alarm among members of the mainstream media. Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball, referred to the Republican candidate as a ‘wild man’:
“It’s like your party is losing seats for moderate. Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania just quits, Bob Corker just quits —they are not comfortable in the party anymore, these guys. And all of a sudden a guy like Roy Moore feels comfortable. He is part of the Republican party now. These other guys don’t feel like they are. Moderates or people who we used to call mainstream Republicans are quitting. The wild people are coming on board.”
Similarly, the host of MSNBC’s Deadline, Nicole Wallace, also expressed her displeasure at Moore’s victory:
“I guess the question is though, John — is anyone in the Senate, any Republicans going to say, ‘I don’t want to be in the same party as Roy Moore. I’m not going to be for him. I’m not endorsing him. I’m not backing him because that could save the Republican. You may lose a seat, but you might save the Republican Party.”
A heated exchange between Trump advisor Stephen Miller and CNN speech-giver Jim Acosta over the Trump Administration’s new immigration policy has illustrated the implicit bias and ignorance of the mainstream media.
The exchange began when Acosta quoted the poem on the Statue of Liberty. The poem, Emma Lazarus’ “the New Colossus”, goes:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbour that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
“The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send their people to this country, and they’re not always going to speak English Stephen, they’re not always going to be highly skilled.”
Miller responded by correctly pointing out that the poem had been added to the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903 – two decades after it had been installed, and reminded Acosta that the poem had never encapsulated US immigration policy. He then went on to challenge Acosta on the supposed principle encapsulated by the poem:
“In 1990s, when we let in half a million people a year, was that violating or not violating the law of the land? Tell me what years meet Jim Acosta’s definition of the Statue of Liberty per law of the land. You’re saying a million a year is the Statue of Liberty number — 900,000 violates, 800,000 violates it.”
Acosta then changed tactics by suggesting that the requirement for immigrants to speak English was racist, arguing that it would “only bring in people from Britain and Australia.” Miller responded by accusing Acosta of having a ‘cosmopolitan bias‘:
“Jim, I just got to say, I am shocked by your statement, that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree that in your mind … this is an amazing moment … that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would speak English is so insulting to millions of hardworking immigrants that do speak English from all over the world.”
Jim Acosta has claimed victory over Stephen Miller, commenting: “I think what you just saw in the briefing room is that he [Miller] really just couldn’t take that kind of heat and exploded before our eyes.”
However, it was Stephen Miller that won the argument. Miller remained calm, used arguments that required reason and evidence, and called out Acosta’s biases and ignorance at the appropriate moments. Miller argued using facts, Acosta argued using emotions. In the end, it is Acosta, and by extension the left-wing media, that have been shamed.
The latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare has failed after a senate vote of 49/51. The defeat occurred after Republican Senator for Arizona, John McCain, Republican Senator for Maine, Susan Collins, and Republic Senator for Alaska, Lisa Murkowski crossed the floor to vote with the Democrats.
The latest attempt at repeal, known as ‘skinny repeal’, has been seen by many as a last ditch effort to repeal and replace certain elements of Obamacare. It was met with opposition from Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office – who claimed it would leave sixteen million people uninsured (presumably because they would no longer be forced to pay for health insurance), and health insurance companies – who claim that skinny repeal would be disastrous for the market.
In a statement, Senator McCain explained his reasons for voting against the repeal:
“While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.”
Both McCain and Murkowski supported a 2015 repeal and replace bill which was more extreme in its contents than the latest version. Collins, meanwhile, has never expressed any true desire to repeal and replace.
The mainstream media has responded to McCain’s decision by claiming that has “given a lot of Americans something to believe in.” President Trump responded by tweeting: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!”
In the end, the latest defeat is not all doom and gloom. The fact that the latest vote was 49/51 shows how close the Republicans were to repealing and replacing Obamacare. It is perfectly possible for President Trump and other Republicans to find means to persuade McCain, Collins, and Murkowski to change their vote.