Monday, September 19, 2016

Reflections on Father F

Back on 4 July 2012 I wrote this post, Four Corners, the Armidale Express and Father F,  At the time, my immediate concern was with what I saw as a failure in fairness, a failure to let  justice take its course. Since then, John has been sentenced to 18 years in goal for multiple child sex offences.

I read this latest story in the Sydney Morning Herald with a queasy feeling. An updated story in the same paper made me feel even queasier.

I didn't know John well. I quite liked him, although I always thought that he was very self-absorbed. He also craved (or so it seemed to me) acceptance and status. He promoted and wrote about the good things that the Church had done, about the laity and their stories.  He wanted to be seen in the community as an historical authority.

I said that John seemed self-absorbed. We have all done things in our lives that we know to be wrong. Most of us live with that, recognising and trying to compensate in some way. I cannot get within John's mind, but he seems to have lacked that most basic sense of compassion.

I suppose that there is a dreadful irony in the fact that he so damaged the very institution that he presented and promoted in his historical writing. It's not an irony I take any pleasure in. We all know that human institutions are imperfect. We know that injustices (and evil) occur. Yet when that happens in institutions that occupy a higher place in our society, there is a profound sense of betrayal. When that happens, we are all the poorer for it.        


Anonymous said...

It's even worse when institutions that occupy a higher place in our society try to cover it up - either because they affect not to recognise diabolical evil for what it is or because their insurers prevail upon them. The Insurance Act should be amended forthwith to prevent carriers from writing any form of cover that indemnifies Churches and the like from this type of depravity.


2 tanners said...

Churches occupy a privileged position in our society and state. The actions of any individual or small band of individuals can blacken the name of a generally worthy enterprise, but a culture of cover ups, blame diversion and actions which result in continuation of a problem, not addressing it, should threaten the privileges offered. The Princes of Rome did not get that name by living like peasants, and for the record, I am not targeting the Catholic Church alone.

Unknown said...

Hi Jim,

I also knew Farrell and yes, I too thought he was self-absorbed. But he was also a bit of a creep and now we know why. The man was/is (he doesn't appear to have shown remorse) evil - he preyed on children.

And, in this instance, the Catholic Church stands condemned.


Bob Clarke

Jim Belshaw said...

Just picking up your insurance point, DG. The problem, and its not limited to this case, arises especially when insurance forces action against others by the insured that is designed to protect the insurance company regardless of third party costs. Not sure that I have put that clearly enough. I agree 2t.

I agree, too, with you Bob on both points.