Changing the church from the inside

THE phone rang on Monday and a man spoke.

‘‘My name is Tom Creigh and I’m from Charlestown. I’m a Catholic, a father of six children, and yesterday at church I said to my parish priest: ‘I’m wondering why I’m here’.’’

The disappearance and death of John Pirona last week after leaving a letter saying he was in ‘‘Too much pain’’ was behind the call.

‘‘I’m like a lot of Catholics. I’m a witness to that pain,’’ he said.

His son was school captain at St Pius X Adamstown when the notorious Hunter paedophile priest who sexually assaulted John Pirona was there.

‘‘My kids know the pain. They can rattle off name after name of people who were victims. It’s the whole cover-up that’s really got us.’’

Creigh is a Catholic who has spent the past week speaking to other Catholics about changing the church from the inside. He rang because he wanted the Herald’s help with a petition, to address the systemic problems that have damaged the church.

To add your support to the campaign for a royal commission into church sex abuse, sign the petition here.

‘‘Priests – and they’re not all bad – they’ve had to cover up because the bishops have told them to,’’ he said.

‘‘They’ve had to put the zipper on and say nothing.

‘‘I don’t know if it was bishops on their own, or others, but the thing is it’s been a blanket over everything for too long.

‘‘The good priests have been stuck with the bad ones at times. The bad ones will cause trouble somewhere and suddenly they’re sent out to Woop Woop and the good one finishes up with a criminal sleeping in the next room, and he’s still asked to do a snow job on it all. A cover-up.

‘‘If JC [Jesus Christ] was walking around, he’d be asking a few of them to hand their badges in.’’

Creigh found women were much more responsive to taking action within the church than men were.

‘‘The men are more likely to say they don’t want to put their hands up, or leave others to fix the problem, but this is our church, and our problem, and we’re talking about children who have been abused.’’

Creigh has John Pirona’s two children on his mind when he speaks to others.

‘‘For the next 60 or 70 years those kids are always going to know their dad took his life because he was abused by a priest. That’s how long the pain’s going to last.’’

Creigh spoke to another priest, who was fairly negative about the idea of Catholics running their own petition, or asking for the Herald’s help with one. A royal commission wasn’t given much of a gong either.

‘‘I said to him, ‘For God’s sake, you have to man up. This is about being a man and standing up for yourself, the church, its people and children.’’

While Creigh works within the church for change, he wants the community to support a petition for a royal commission.

‘‘The building is the structure of the church, the blokes inside are the administrators, the body of the church is its people. And it’s the body of the church that has had enough of this.’’

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide