The news that an anti-Catholic group intends to help the Aborigines sue the Vatican at the International Court in Belgium, based on the Pope's recent apology (The Australian, 5 January 2002) should surprise no one. There has been enough evidence in recent times that apologies of this kind quickly become weapons in the hands of those with other agendas.
It is well known that the papal speech containing the apology was written by the Australian Catholic Episcopal Conference. Why was it made? I am not aware that there was a great demand for a papal apology among Aboriginal communities.
Given the anti-Catholic animus of present-day European élites, there is every chance the proposed action will be successful. Hence, there is a real possibility that, as a result of this well-intentioned gesture, the Catholic Church in Australia (the Vatican won't pay the bill) will suffer the same fate as the Anglican Church in Canada - financial obliteration for the rest of the century.
There is no doubt that the Church should pay compensation where it caused genuine harm. But it would be unjust to make the Catholic Church carry the can for two hundred years of bad government policies and for the British imperialism on which those policies were ultimately based.
Apologising for our mistakes is one thing. Playing into the hands of our enemies whose main aim is to destroy us is another matter entirely.
FR M. SHADBOLT PP