Labor has made it virtually impossible to appoint any sort of churchman to any sort of high profile government role. It did this by the disgraceful way it demonised Peter Hollingworth, former Anglican Archbishop, and drove him from the role of Governor-General.
Hollingworth was ostensibly crucified, not because he abused a child, not because he dealt with abuse inappropriately, but because he failed, in the view of some, to show sufficient sympathy towards the victims of abuse at one Anglican school run independently from his oversight.
It appears that Cappo may have been closer to the alleged incident, but that the incident has not been proven to any sort of standard of proof (whereas at least Hollingworth’s had) and it does not even involve children but two, possibly consenting, adult men.
All large scale organisations that deal with children are going to have instances of child abuse. There is a saying that you “fish where the fish are”, so anyone prone to abusing children, is most likely to be found where victims are available. They will be in schools, children and youth organisations and so on.
Expand the ambit to include adult sexual abuse and you expand the potential number of organisations significantly.
So under our new standards of moral opprobrium it would be virtually impossible to find a church where there had not been sexual misconduct of some sort.
Which means that it is unlikely that there is a high ranking churchman or woman anywhere who has not been involved, no matter how tangentially, in dealing with allegations of abuse, which can then be used as a club to attack them.
It is a ridiculous standard, but Labor brought it all on itself, perhaps because it opportunistically saw an opportunity to destroy Hollingworth, the first G-G to be appointed by John Howard after the Republican Referendum was lost.
Opportunism is not restricted to Labor. Moral hysteria campaigns require the cooperation of legions of opportunists. In this case Xenophon was supported by many of the usual chorus, but achieved this end mostly on his own. In the Hollingworth case the choir was mostly conducted by Hetty Johnson, who has made a career out of lynch mob vigilantism, but she was joined by many others, including the families of victims, and those who just have it in for Christianity.
This latter is the most disturbing. I have yet to hear of any protests against the appointment of any executive from secular organisations that have significant rates of child abuse, such as directors general of education, community services or health departments, yet child abuse would be at least as widespread there as in any church organisation.
This opportunism doesn’t just prejudice the appointment of public officials, but it takes the focus off the area where most child abuse occurs.
Only a very small minority of abuse actually occurs in institutions. Most of it occurs in families and close social groups, but as no-one can see any leverage in any of these cases, most of which are probably hushed-up by parents and relatives, they rarely come into the public arena. If you really wanted to tackle child abuse, this is where you would focus, which leads one to the conclusion that these other high profile cases are not about child abuse at all.
What’s more this fascination with using child abuse as a tool to dislodge high level appointees takes the focus off where the bulk of the problem lies.