It doesn’t need a potentially suggestive tweet from Catherine Deveny anymore to make jokes about the Catholic Church and sexual abuse of minors work, or even for merely establishing the connection, all it takes even for a heavily stacked audience is a sentence like this from Archbishop Pell, in a recent Q & A, on the “preparation of young English boys” :
Even the mainly Catholic audience got that one, no punchline needed, and the awkwardness of the moment was palpable. So I am a bit confused as to the motive of Archbishop Pell threatening legal action against Twitter (edited) over a tweet now (the content of which we don’t know because it was taken down), when the likes of him and his fellow obscurantists in the Catholic hierarchy have already managed to sway public opinion in such a way that the connection between Catholic clergy and any kind of atrocity, from sexual abuse of minors to stealing newborns, is well established in the public’s mind.
Of course we must protect individuals from unfounded allegations like that of being a pedophile, but if the last decade with its almost daily discoveries of more Catholic abuse stories has done anything, then it is that we now must consider every single Catholic priest a potential danger to the welfare of children. It is estimated that 4% of all Catholic clergy are or were abusers, that is not by any means a trivial number. Since Deveny didn’t say outright that Pell is a Pedophile, and as we have seen above, the connection is in people’s mind these days whether Pell likes it or not, I really don’t see any basis for a lawsuit.
Cardinal Pell should refrain from wasting the diocese’s money to go on such a campaign. This tweet would have been redistributed and read in agreement by a great number of people. He should instead use the money to campaign for compensation of his church’s abuse victims and their families, that would be doing something useful.
08/05/12: (I’ve edited a couple of sentences since the threat of a lawsuit seems merely directed at Twitter at this stage.)
And yet another update : Cardinal Pell is not threatening legal action against Twitter or Deveny anymore, according to the SMH.