Let the sinless organisation cast the first stone


A little less hysteria and a lot better collective memory would help us pope-watchers settle down.

The Catholic Church – and the Pope – don’t have a nasty history on their own.

Over much of the world, the concept of children’s rights is still non-existent, and child prostitution and slavery is a fact of everyday life.

For that matter, which organisation in this country – or the world – can safely say it is free of hypocrites, or predators who take advantage of children?

The United Nations has disgraced itself.

So have teachers, creche workers, foster parents, parents, friends of families, gangs, and any place you can name where children have been at adults’ mercy, with no-one to turn to.

Some examples have been virtually on my own doorstep.

As a child I’d walk past Masterton’s Whatman Home and wonder why the children who lived there never played outside.

That was run by the Salvation Army.

Cruelty and abuse went on there for years, we’ve since heard, and I need wonder no longer.

Abuse claims from former – do we call them inmates? – have also emerged about other homes run by the Sallies in Waotu, Temuka, Newtown and Remuera.

A man who worked at the Temuka home, for example, was sentenced to 10 years’ jail for three rapes and 19 charges of indecency, and became eligible for parole in February.

I doubt whether this vileness badly dented the public’s perception of the charitable work for which the Salvation Army is admired.

I remember, too, the sexual predator exposed a few years ago at the Presbyterian Berhampore Children’s Home.

Wally Lake was once awarded an OBE for services to child welfare, a fact that is beyond irony, and was a stalwart of Sunday School teaching.

He died, luckily for him, before he could be charged with abusing 17 children.

I don’t believe he altered anybody’s view of Presbyterians in general, though the church hierarchy was slow to act on what the complainants said, nor has that church’s doctrine been held up to ridicule because of him.

The worst instance of sexual abuse involving the Catholic Church that I recall here was at Maryland’s School in Christchurch, where disgraced brothers from the St John of God order stood accused of more than 120 cases in the 1970s.

The order, accused of similar acts in Australia, has paid out more than $5 million to victims in New Zealand.

Among minor churches, Hopeful Christian, aka Neville Cooper of the Gloriavale Christian Community and Garden of Children in Haupiri on the West Coast, was sentenced to five years for sexual assault, and has returned to his community.

I’d expect sexual offending to cover all Christian denominations and all religions, as well as a host of people who don’t claim any religious affiliation at all. Continue reading

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