Internet and instant communication have reduced the world into a global village, Marshall McLuhan said long long ago. That was when? It was when this scribe was studying journalism at Marquette, Milwaukee in the 1960s.
“Global village” and “Medium is the message” are two famous concepts inseparably connected to and popularized by him. What is meant by Global village is a metaphoric shrinking of the world into a village through the use of electronic media. In a village you can shout from one end and it will be heard and responded to from the other end. The term was coined by the Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan and popularized through his books published in 1962 and 1964.
Coming back to India from US I was then trying to convey the idea saying, a St.Paul would never have ventured on his dangerous journey of shipwrecks, (semper in periculis) always in danger, as he used to describe, had he lived in our times. He would have done it all sitting in front of a computer. I was saying that 55 years ago, without having the slightest experience of what I am living through daily today.
Now I do realize the difference, what it is to look into the face of someone on the other side of the globe and talk to him or about him, impossible to dream of then. It makes a world of difference when I write this sitting in a room in Chicago about Archbishop Philip Wilson of Australia on the other side of globe, looking into his face and the crowd around him in wild disbelief. I am doing it for the benefit of a whole world, any one who chooses to connects to CCV.
That is the world of fast change, fast communication and forced transparency we are being subjected to today. So public personalities both in religion and politics can choose to play hide and seek only for a time and at their risk. Just now we are dealing with an archbishop in Aistralia, yesterday it was about cardinals, bishops, priests and sisters in Kerala, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Delhi, Goa, Trivandrum, UK, France, Canada, US, South America, the African continent. The personalities highlighted are either praised or blamed according to the merits of their deeds reported in all glorious or shameful detail.
Church Media wake up
Church media, especially the Catholic church-owned print and social media still believe they can easily hide from public gaze the dirty, scandalous and dastardly things they do in private from public view or glare. No, they can’t do it any more. Also the general public has now come to the conviction, that these so-called highly placed divines in Religion and ‘Trump’ like incorrigibles in Politics, will never – a hundred times never — change for the better to save their souls, but they surely will, to save their face.
To save Face, not Soul
Once a cardinal, a bishop, a priest or a sister is caught for sex abuse and paraded in public and ridiculed before those who used to say unhesitatingly “Amen”, or to sing “Hosana” to all stupid things these wretched creatures used to say, their collegues in similar profession will be forced to think not just twice, but ten times before they venture to do such things. They will at least start saying less stupid things and do less shameful things both in public and private. That is the meaning of saying: Changing to save one’s FACE than to save one’s SOUL. They are not going to become saints tomorrow, but they will stop being less sinful and harmful to the public than before, once action is taken against them.
Demolish undeserved Dignity
Only to the extent their undeserved credibility, honesty and moral authority, integrity are all undermined, ridiculed and demolished in public, by print, visual as well as social media, can we succeed to change things fast for the better. It is this priceless job, often thankless as well, that independent websites like the Laitytude- Bombay's Laity Wakes up, Mattersindia, and Church Citizens' Voice (English) Kochi, and Almayasabdam (Malayalam) are doing.
So it is for all communicators of TRUTH, which is what evangelization is all about, to inspire and guide the ignorant and credulous by highlighting what is exemplary and noble to follow; equally stressing the wrong doings that are dastardly and destructive to be avoided by all, especially of the highly placed in society, whom people tend to imitate fast.
Demand to reveal confession
Another moot question in Australia is that the Government there is insisting that allegations of sexual abuse against children heard in the confessional also must be reported to civil authorities. What then is the fate of the seal of confession popularly accepted all over the world? But here also remember, that all these seals were placed or created by man and most learned theologians say and the well-read know that Jesus instituted no sacraments and most were created to protect the vested interests of the church of the time and place.
What lesson for India?
What then is the lesson for us in India, in the context of sentencing an Archbishop in ‘Australia for 12 months in prison, a Vatican diplomat to five years in prison for child pornography crimes and a 77 year old cardinal Pell, the highest official in the Vatican and Pope’s own trusted Finance Minister once under scan for sex abuse still going on?
In India also Cardinals, bishops, priests and sisters are under the scanner and are investigated for sex offenses or financial mismanagement. Cardinal Alenchery is caught in land sale scandal, Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar is caught in an allegation of having sexual relations with a nun 13 or 14 times (number changes with every new report), Fr. Robin Vadakkancherry in Kochi for fathering a son to a minor girl, all in the process of investigation, besides so many other sexual adventures of priests dating back to 26 years old case of Sister Abhaya murder case in Kottayam.
Candid Camera everywhere?
In the 1960s there was a regular entertainment programme on TV in US called: Candid Camera! It used to take pictures of you unannounced on various occasions of your daily life at home, in office space, on the street, on relaxing time, on serious duty time, just to show how you behave when you are totally on your own and least aware some one is watching you.
It was an entertainment programme just to make you aware what stupid or silly things you do when you know fully well that you are away from public gaze and no one is watching you. It used to be an educative programme, entertaingly presented on how to behave sensibly and decently even in your private life.
Hidden Camera all over now
But today the hidden camera is becoming omnipresent in public and private places, mainly to keep away terrorist attacks, thieves in public places and molesters of women and minors. So whether you like it or not, those who live in cities or hold high public offices, are constantly under some “Candid Camera” for the sake of protecting the innocent and preventintg rogue elements in society from doing mischief.
This comes also as a stern order from law enforcement authorities to behave properly in public or pay the penalty for it. ‘Save the rod and spoil the child’ principle forces public authorities to resort to such measures to enforce order and decorum in society.
Any chance of a bishop being convicted in India?
It will be interesting to watch and see if any one in the various rungs of the Catholic hierarchy gets convicted and punished. Usually final results in these high profile court cases are decided by money power, muscle power or moral power. What past experience tells us is that the money power of the Cathothlic church always succeeded to protect the criminal, for the sake of saving the presumed “good name” of the Church.
This time at least let us hope and pray that the moral and spiritual strength of the Church in India, if it has any left, may have the victory for the sake of the Lord Jesus who would rather die on the cross a thousand times than be accused of any wrong doing. james kottoor , editor ccv (from Chicago).
Please read below Article in American Jesuit Review on jail sentence of Aistralian Arch Bishop Wilson. Australian bishop sentenced to one year detention for cover-up
Rod McGuirk in America the Jesuit Review, July 03, 2018
Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, Australia, leaves the Newcastle Local Court May 22. Archbishop Wilson, who was convicted of covering up clergy sexual abuse, says he will consult his lawyer before he decides next steps. (CNS/Peter Lorimer, EPA)
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The most senior Roman Catholic cleric to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse was sentenced to 12 months by some abuse survivors as a strong warning to institutions that fail to protect children.
Newcastle Magistrate Robert Stone ordered Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson to serve at least 6 months before he is eligible for parole.But Wilson will not immediately go into custody. Stone will consider on Aug. 14 whether Wilson is suitable for home detention. He could live with in detention by an Australian court Tuesday in a landmark case welcomed his sister near Newcastle.
Stone in May found the 67-year-old cleric guilty in the Newcastle Local Court of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of two altar boys by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney during the 1970s. Wilson faced a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison.
Stone said Wilson failed to act against Fletcher because he "wanted to protect the church and its image." "The whole of the community is devastated in so many ways by the decades of abuse and its concealment," the magistrate said. "We are all the poorer for what has occurred."
The sentencing was another step toward holding the church to account for a global abuse crisis that has also engulfed Pope Francis' financial minister, Australian Cardinal George Pell. Some lawyers said they expect many more clerics to be charged in Australia as a result of Wilson's test case.
Survivors of abuse who protested against the church outside the court on Tuesday called on Wilson to resign as archbishop. They carried signs accusing the church of hypocrisy and describing it as a "fraudulent cult." One of Fletcher's victims, Peter Gogarty, an advocate for fellow survivors, said he was disappointed that Wilson had walked free from court, but "there is no doubt the archbishop has received a significant sentence." Survivors remained pleased by the landmark conviction, he said.
"We have made history here in Australia: The highest-ranked church official to ever be brought to account for what we know was a worldwide systematic abuse of children and the concealment of that abuse," Gogarty told reporters. "So I'm content that we've done something in Australia that nobody else has been able to manage."
Another victim, Daniel Feenan, said he would not have been abused by Fletcher as a 12-year-old in 1988 if Wilson had spoken out about the allegations he heard in 1976."I do feel I've got justice," Feenan said after the sentencing. "It's an absolutely strong message today."
Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright said Wilson as a bishop had taken vigorous action against child abusers. As bishop of Wollongong, Wilson had rejected a Vatican ruling that a suspected pedophile priest should return to duty. As Adelaide archbishop, he helped police extradite a lay church employee from the United States. "It is a deep shock and disappointment that this man has been found guilty of covering up abuse," Wright said in a statement.
"Archbishop Wilson is a longtime friend and colleague of mine, and almost like a member of my family. But in these matters, all of us must rigorously set aside such considerations in the interests of justice and the protection of children," Wright added.