How to Not Win Friends and Influence People

Crean calls for clarification of Pell remarks

Federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean has called for the Church to clarify comments by Sydney [Australia] Archbishop George Pell that abortion was a worse scandal than sexual abuse by priests.

Dr Pell reportedly told 500 young delegates at a World Youth Day forum in Canada that abortion was a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people “because it’s (abortion) always a destruction of human life”.

Mr Crean said yesterday that, upon learning of Dr Pell’s reported remarks, he had sought clarification from the Catholic Church in Sydney as to what was said, but clarification was not forthcoming.

“It has not been able to be clarified so I think that it’s important for the church to clarify its position,” Mr Crean said in Perth.

“But regardless of the reported comments, the point is that child sex abuse is wrong, and what we need is policies that deal with the victims of the crime … in a sensitive and compassionate way, and help with their healing.”

Mr Crean was speaking after talking today with Perth Anglican Bishop David Murray. The Labor leader said it was an important dialogue towards protecting children from any future abuse.

“I don’t say this in any partisan political way because I genuinely believe this is an issue that has to be embraced by the government not just the opposition,” he said.

Acknowledging that it’s quite true that the little problem with abortion is that there are no victims left to deal with in that sensitive and compassionate way of which Mr. Crean speaks and that abortion is a therefore monstrous sin against God and the dignity of the human person, I am still frankly amazed at the sheer ineptitude of a bishop who would attempt to rate these sins on a Heinous-o-meter in such a way as to, in effect, say “Hey! Stop making such a big deal about the sins of priests and bishops.” Surely it’s possible to condemn abortion without clumsily turning it into a “Hey! We’re not so bad” bit of self-justifying twaddle. Abortion and abuse both kill bodies and souls. Impenitent practitioners of either sin can wave at each other as they are being boiled in Dantean pots of scalding pitch and debate their relative merits. Rather than making mealy-mouthed excuses (like Bill Keller saying that murdering his son is nothing near so bad as an abusive priest or Abp. Pell saying that compared to abortion Catholic priest’s and bishop’s sins are no big deal) how about sinners taking responsibility for their sin, repenting, and finding eternal life in Christ?