letters to the editor August 23 2017

KEEPING SECRETS: Peter Dolan says a broken confessional seal would offer victims of abuse even less chance of help, prompting offenders to stay silent. Regarding Jeff Corbett (“The con in confessional”, Herald 19/8), youinaccurately comparethe seal of confession to Sharia law with about as much subtlety as Pauline’s burka.It’s not a case of “clean slate on Sunday, a new victim on Monday”at all, but forgiveness only with genuine sorrow for sins and a resolve to sin no more.


Jeff flags the need to report murder to the police.This is the plot of Hitchcock’s 1953 film, ‘I Confess’: a priest bound to keep secret a murderer’s confession and putting his own life on the line, just as down the centuries many priests have done for secrets to do with murder, infidelity and treason.

The issue is confidentiality of the confessional, not any particular crime.

The 19th Century utilitarian philosopher and atheist Jeremy Bentham saw breaching confidentiality as “a virtual proscription of the exercise of the Catholic religion.

In compensation for the evil of this tyranny, “no good would in any shape be produced”.

If confidentiality is proscribed for child abuse, why not for murder, rape or any serious crime so defined by secular authority, even a political crime perhaps?

Concerning child abuse, a diverse group have said that breaking the confessional seal simply reducesthe prospect that anyone ever will come and confess, which won’t help abuse victims at all.

Peter Dolan,LambtonA resigned partingAs a teacher in the Catholic education system, with a happy marriage and family, holding a Masters in Catholic Education and as a lifelong practicing Catholic, I have today come to breaking point with the spokespeople of my church.

The failure to meet contemporary struggles, the empty pews, historical abuses and other enormous hypocrisies are only heightened by this latest announcement from the Australian Council of Bishops.

I have taught with colleagues who are of every sexual orientation, together with divorcees, teachers having affairs, unmarried mothers and fathers, unmarried cohabiting couples and very likely nearly every teacher who uses birth control.

None of these have been asked to leave their jobs, to my knowledge, because their choices are at odds with church advice and teaching. These choices all fall under the serious sin category in doctrine and yet it is only now, on what I hope is the brink of marriage equality and true respect for all people all made in God’s image, the threat of losing one’s job is wielded.

It is difficult to know what to say or do, except to express sorrow on behalf of all who belong to the Church towards all those hurt by this incredible announcement.

The real church is the people and of those I am told more than 60% support marriage equality. We are told this opinion is dangerous and misguided by the council of bishops, but that we must vote according to our informed conscience.

Our consciences clearly won’t save our jobs if they disagree with the powers that be, however.

But if same sex couples choose to live secret partnerships, never celebrating commitment and stability, being inauthentic at work about who they are, they will apparently be tolerated.

Rebecca Peters,AdamstownHeightsCarrying cards a solutionThe unbelievable confusion regarding who is able to apply to be voted into Australian parliament (Shorten: I’m not an English secret agent”, Herald 22/8)is probably just the catalyst to a long-required commission into the real problems establishing votingeligibility.

The idea that people can voteon government appointmentsof any description andstill have citizenshipobligations with a foreign country, evenbrother countries such as New Zealand, is crazy.

This isparticularly the case with the increasingly obvious problems occurring in this and other countries who have been overgenerous with their immigration policies.

The time to consider the Australian identity card is now and I don’t see how a person can ever have two identity cards and be running for or voting for any Australian governmental positions.

Russell Schatz,NarrabriGood vibe on date changeRegarding Australia Day, how about June 3? On that date in 1992 the High Court ofAustraliamade the famous Eddie Mabo case decision.Terra Nullius undone, ahistoric mistake rectified. The relationship between the two dates is obvious.

The PM is far too conservative on this issue, no doubt guided by his ultra-conservative faction again.

A treaty with the Indigenous people? How long will that take? An amendment to the Constitution to fix the racist views of 1901? Much easier to rewrite the entire Constitution, certainly a very desirable and long overdue move altogether.But the easiest gesture of promoting harmony and goodwill surely must be to changeAustraliaDay to 3rd June. This is what Australians call a no-brainer!

Klaas Woldring,PearlBeachRev up if you are opposedAt a mayoralcandidates’ forum last Thursday evening, no speaker supported the Supercars race in its proposedlocation. Indeed, even the Labor candidate Carol Duncan went so far as to say that we had been stitched up, therace foisted on the lord mayorby the Liberal state government.

If this is really the case, thenwhydoesn’t our Lord Mayor loudly andstridently represent her constituents when they raise serious concerns about health impacts, noise levels, and damage to local small businesses? Insteadwe see herkowtowing to the interests of big business, which clearly has come toNewcastlejust to make money, afterother cities had refused Supercars’ entreaties.

Comparisons in politicsareodious, but one can’t help thinking back to the wonderful Joy Cummings, who was a genuine environmentalist, who expanded Blackbutt Reserve,who established Foreshore Park, rather than chopping it down and covering it with concrete andtar, and who undertook true community consultation with her community.And all that without steadyandexorbitantrate increases.

I believe the actions of the current council and lord mayor, and their refusal to stand up for residents against the Supercars monolith,are a sickening contradiction ofauthentic Labor values.

John Beach,Cooks Hill