Category Archives: Culture

The adolescent logic of the majority judgement

In the Australian of 15 November, former Labor Minister Peter Baldwin focused on the weird reasoning of the majority judgement in the Pell appeal.

George Pell sex abuse conviction must be examined

by PETER BALDWIN

I have never been a huge fan of ­George Pell, sharing neither his relig­ious convictions nor his conservati­ve world view.

However, I was relieved by the decision of the High Court this week to hear his final appeal.

This follows the decision in August by a majority of the Victorian Court of Appeal to uphold the jury verdict convicting Pell of criminal sexual abuse.

I was surprised and disconcerted, astonished actually, by this outcome, so much so I ploughed through all 325 pages of the majority judgment by justices Anne Ferguson and Chris Maxwell and the longer dissenting judgment by Justice Mark Weinberg in an effort to understand where their reasonings diverged.

There were aspects of the matter that surprised me at the outset.

Continue reading The adolescent logic of the majority judgement

‘Catholic Tradition Alive and Well in the Antipodes’

Remnant Newspaper reported on the recent Bendigo pilgrimage.

Catholic Tradition Alive and Well in the Antipodes

Written by  Kathy Clubb | Australian Correspondent


It’s refreshing to be able to present an article about something positive happening in the Church, as a change from exposing dissent and heresy. Last weekend, Australia’s largest traditional Catholic event was held in honour of Christ the King. The annual Christus Rex pilgrimage is our answer to the Paris to Chartres pilgrimage and encouragingly, is growing in popularity, especially among young people.

The Christus Rex Pilgrimage (CREX) was established 29 years ago to honour the feast of Christ the King, as promulgated by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas. Pilgrims walk 90 kilometres over three days, finishing at the Bendigo Cathedral on the Feast of Christ the King. The walk is physically demanding, but pilgrims are joyful, offering their pains for the good of Holy Mother Church and their own intentions. This year, in accordance with an appeal from Bishop Schneider, the last leg of the trip was offered as reparation for the sins of idolatry committed in Rome during the Amazon synod.

Read on…

Review Michel Houellebecq’s ‘Serotonin’

Lonely White Men: On Michel Houellebecq’s “Serotonin

By Louis Betty

FRANCE’S MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ leads something of a double career. A novelist of Prix Goncourt–winning distinction, Houellebecq is also his country’s best-selling author abroad and, on many accounts, currently its best. He is also reliably a prophet of current events: his third novel, Platform, featured an Islamist attack on a Thai sex resort and was published just days before 9/11; a later novel, Submission, which imagined France’s election of a Muslim party president, appeared the day of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and seemed a novelistic auger of the gruesome wave of terrorism that roiled France during the next few years. Whatever, Houellebecq’s 1994 debut novel, turned out to be equally prescient, though it took more than two decades for its prophecies to take shape. A commentary on male sexual frustration, Whatever, as the author of a New York Times essay argued in 2018, is a psychological account of involuntary celibacy and the violence that erotic isolation breeds.

Read on…

Summary of the Pell Papers

Chris S Friel working from the other side of the world has done outstanding work on the Cardinal Pell Affair. He has produced a series of sharp compelling analyses of all the important features of Cardinal’s conviction for sexual abuse of a minor. Friel’s work will be in the frontline of any research serious investigators undertake in scrutinising of one of the most shocking sets of circumstances in Australia’s history.

On the eve of The High Court of Australia’s decision about allowing an appeal, Friel has posted an extremely useful summary of the work he has done. One can access it on the Academia website. I have produced it below.

SUMMARY OF THE PELL PAPERS

by Chris S Friel

This is a brief summary of the work I have done on the Pell case followed by a bibliographical note also on my Academia page, “The Pell Papers.” I shall refer to the number of each paper (in text) where the article for each number is identified in the list immediately following.

I began writing with (1, 2) which drew attention to what I thought two key issues, namely, the way that the story of the complainant had shifted, and of the difficulties I saw in Milligan’s Cardinal. Much of the subsequent work involved trying to clear up the ambiguities, and an overview can be found in a long review of Milligan’s book (22). This was written in July, between the appeal hearing and the ruling. I look at:

  • The Get Pell Network
  • The significance of the Southwell Inquiry
  • The various coincidences in timing that indicate how, around the time when the complainant went to the police, various “memories” were suspiciously reconstructed in order to implicate Pell.
Continue reading Summary of the Pell Papers

The Pell conviction – a failure of the basic rules of reason

A number of times I have claimed that the two (supposedly) eminent judges who rejected Cardinal Pell’s appeal, (Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell) seem to know nothing about the rules of reason. They seem not to know that abstractly speaking matters of fact can always be otherwise, that nothing is impossible except a contradiction, that judgements about reliability and trustworthiness are based on the empirical evidence.

Chris Merritt, legal affairs editor at The Australian, commented (18 September) on Cardinal Pell’s appeal to the High Court in which the Cardinal’s lawyers take up the question of reasoning – or rather the failure of reason.

The State’s System of Justice Put on Trial

By Chris Merritt

BRET WALKER SC is an old-fashioned stickler for precise legal language. That is why his clinical evisceration of the judges who ruled against George Pell is so effective. Without a skerrick of emotion or one wasted word. Walker has torn the guts out of the Court of Appeal majority who rejected the cardinal’s appeal against convictions for sexually assaulting choirboys.

The special leave application drawn up by Walker and barrister Ruth Shann leads to an unstated but obvious conclusion: two of Victoria’s most senior judges utterly botched the cardinal’s case, not just on the facts but on the law. For the two judges who formed the majority, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell, this document will make extremely difficult reading. Walker is widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest lawyers. Yet his signature appears at the end of a document that accuses Ferguson and Maxwell of effectively reversing the onus of proof, engaging in “unorthodox reasoning,” “circular reasoning” and “erroneous judicial method”.

If the High Court agrees to hear this appeal, it will need to grapple with those arguments and determine whether the judicial method demonstrated by Ferguson and Maxwell is actually as flawed as Walker and Shann believe. The stakes are staggeringly high. This affair now concerns not just the freedom of a cardinal but the continued public standing of Victoria’s top judges and the man who might well be the nation’s greatest lawyer.

If the assessment of Walker and Shann is accepted by the High Court, it will amount to a crippling blow for Ferguson and Maxwell.

But consider the position of Walker and Shann. If this appeal fails, they will stand accused by their peers of making extraordinary assertions – amounting to judicial ineptitude – against the two most senior judges in Victoria. Whoever loses this argument will forever be damaged goods. But as things stand now, Walker and Shann have the better argument. It does look as though the cardinal has been the victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice.

In order to succeed, Pell’s legal team merely needed to show there was a reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case. The onus of proof was up to the prosecution; it was not up to the cardinal to prove his innocence. Yet the special leave application asserts that the Court of Appeal majority decided the cardinal’s fate on the improper basis that it was up to the defence to prove that the prosecution case was impossible. If this is what happened – and a conclusive ruling is up to the High Court – it will devastate Victoria’s system of Criminal justice.

The Gay Priest Problem

At least eighty percent of clerical abuse cases are about a priest abusing a boy around fifteen years. It is male on male abuse. But in all the frenzy about Catholic priests in Australia abusing boys, none dare broach the subject of homosexuality. It is now open information gleaned from research and investigation, that the rate of sexual abuse rose in tandem with the entry of homosexuals into the male religious orders, not just priests. The sexual abuse was not the only result of homosexuals’ admission to the priesthood and male religious orders. In America, it is recorded that hundreds of priests died from AIDS. Fr Paul Shaunghnessy wrote about it on Catholic Culture online.

AIDS has quietly caused the deaths of hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in the United States, although other causes may be listed on some of their death certificates, the Kansas City Star reported today. The newspaper said its examination of death certificates and interviews with experts indicates several hundred priests have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the mid-1980s. The death rate of priests from AIDS is at least four times that of the general population, the newspaper said. Kansas City Bishop Raymond Boland says the AIDS deaths show that priests are human.

Astonishing, when you think about it. The paragraph above comes from an Associated Press report on a series of newspaper articles by Judy L. Thomas that appeared in January of 2000. It is too much to say Catholics were “rocked” by the attendant media hype—the scandal threshold has been raised pretty high in recent years—but among the laity the articles occasioned, if not a gasp, at least a general sigh of exasperation. From almost all sides one heard the complaint “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” Why not indeed.

Read on…

‘A pushback against Visceral unreason’

TONY ABBOTT AND THE TIMES OF REVOLUTION

Reviewed by Michael Gilchrist – News Weekly, 19 October 2019

Available through Amazon and Smashwords

After years of inaccurate and negative treatment of Tony Abbotts political career and image, both by the media and in assorted writings, a positive corrective is long overdue.

Many Australians accept as fact the crude caricatures and inaccuracies regarding Abbott: that he is a “wrecker”, a religious fanatic, a bully, anti-women, a far-right knuckle-dragger.

Gerard Wilson’s latest book, Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution, will be welcomed by those who, despite all the media misinformation, continue to admire the former prime minister and parliamentarian as a thoroughly decent individual as well as a fearless, forthright champion of mainstream conservative values and the positive role of Western civilisation.

Wilson’s book comprises four sections: Abbotts school years and the 1960s cultural revolution; student radicalism at Sydney University 1973-75, the prelude to Abbott’s arrival on campus; Abbott’s pushback against the far-left monopoly of student politics, 1976-80; and the media and Abbott.

Continue reading ‘A pushback against Visceral unreason’