Fr. M. Shadbolt

There is a massive media campaign of vilification and hatred against the Catholic Church at the present moment. Its aim, I suspect, is to wipe us out as an institution and force us underground. The threat should be taken seriously.

In March the Cummins Report showed that child neglect and abuse are endemic across society including, and especially, in government run organisations. Although it recommended a further enquiry into the churches it in no way singled them out for blame and excoriation.

In spite of that, as soon as the enquiry was announced major elements in the media launched a frenzied witchhunt and trial of - you've guessed it - the Catholic Church alone. In the forefront of the media pack were the ABC and the Fairfax media empire (in Melbourne The Age and radio 3AW) with the Seven Network racing to join in like a schoolyard bully.

Jon Faine of the ABC admitted that sexual abuse of children existed elsewhere, even in some Jewish organisations. But he quickly returned to his chosen target pummelling the Catholic Church for days on end. Neil Mitchell of 3AW, a long standing critic of the Church, was in exultant mode. He grilled Archbishop Hart on issues that are clearly within the province of the coming enquiry, a segment repeated in 3AW's afternoon program.

Mitchell also expressed fear that the ordinary Catholic people, being voters, would wrongfully influence the enquiry. That's defamatory. All Catholics want is a fair and impartial enquiry and judgement. It is these media elements that are trying to bludgeon the enquiry into finding against the Catholic Church.

Admittedly our enemies have their best weapon ever to wipe us out. Of course the existence of any pedophiles in the priesthood is shameful and disgraceful. But these enemies can only achieve that aim by painting pedophilia as a Catholic problem not a problem of society as a whole.

The moment is critical for the Church. While admitting that terrible mistakes occurred in the past and welcoming scrutiny of our present conduct, we have every right to defend ourselves against the distortions of the Catholic-bating media.

What can we do to fight back? These elements survive in part because of Catholic money - our taxes with the ABC and our support of their advertisers with Fairfax and the Seven Network. In the US, a website called "The Catholic League" operating out of New York does sterling work in defending the Church from unfair media attacks. Can't we have something similar here?

MA, DPsych, Doveton, Vic

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