I would like to propose a thought experiment: Just suppose there was a TV debate tonight between Jesus and the Archbishop of Melbourne. The topic of the day is: Do you endorse the Melbourne Response to child abuse by the Catholic Church?'
Why bother? What is the purpose of this thought experiment? Many people are now saying that the Catholic Church of Melbourne has lost its moral authority because it no longer represents the views of its founder, Jesus. The purpose of this thought experiment is to allow you to do some fresh thinking to see if this is claim is valid.
Background notes: In The Age last Friday (September 21) Religious Editor Barney Swartz wrote, "The Catholic Church in Victoria today admitted that it had upheld 620 cases of criminal child abuse by clergy in the past 16 years".
Here's my transcript of the imagined debate between Jesus and the Archbishop. Let us begin the debate with the first question to be put to both Jesus and the church leader by the Moderator. By the way, I'm not making this all up. It is well-researched in biblical and contemporary records. In this debate all statements made by Jesus and the Archbishop will be based on their direct quotes from the written record and referenced in each quote.
MODERATOR: Archbishop, in your submission to the Victorian Government's parliamentary inquiry into your church's handling of child abuse you say your response was an independent investigation, ongoing counseling and support, plus compensation which you called, the Melbourne Response.
ARCHBISHOP: Yes. We call that The Melbourne Response.
MODERATOR: Did the Melbourne Response include transparency or were victims required to sign confidentiality agreements.
ARCHBISHOP: Well, many of them did sign confidentially agreements but we've now waived them for this parliamentary inquiry.
MODERATOR: That's nice. So my first question to you Archbishop is: Did you endorse the Melbourne Response?
ARCHBISHOP: Yes, I did endorse it and authorised it to be used on many occasions.
MODERATOR: Whom do you consider to be the founder of your church?
ARCHBISHOP: It is well known that Jesus is not only the founder of the church I administer in his name but that I proclaim him also to be My Lord.