Newcastle Herald letters to the editor September 20 2017

PRAYERS: Julie Robinson argues the years spent studying the causes for child abuse in the Catholic church would have been better spent supporting the victims of that abuse.
PRAYERS: Julie Robinson argues the years spent studying the causes for child abuse in the Catholic church would have been better spent supporting the victims of that abuse.

Former Catholic priests Peter Wilkinson and Des Cahill spent five years studying the reasons why there has been rampant child sex abuse in the Catholic church (“Melbourne study reveals how a global child sexual abuse tragedy occurred”, Herald 14/9). 

One reason they found was “the lack of the feminine and the denigration of women within church structures”.

‘Lack of the feminine’? Surely these two academics haven’t forgotten the presence of nuns within the church. Also, the Virgin Mary is another very feminine symbol within its ranks.

The argument that because priests are frustrated and sexually immature they are more likely to abuse children is flawed. Married men are pedophiles.  We have seen this in the Anglican and other churches and in the general population.

The years it took to complete this study would have been better spent in supporting the huge numbers who were beaten, sexually abused and treated appallingly by the Catholic church. The church will never change.  The focus now should be on developing safeguards for children and justice for victims, not finding reasons or perhaps excuses as to why priests did what they did. 

Julie Robinson, Cardiff


LYLE Shelton, of the Australian Christian Lobby, is afraid that the call for same-sex marriage behind the ongoing plebiscite is just a smokescreen for the radical LGBTQIA agenda (“Australian Christian lobby likens gay marriage and Safe Schools to unthinkable Nazi atrocities”,, 31/5).

It appears Mr Shelton believes that agenda includes a move to infiltrate our schools using the Safe Schools Program as a Trojan horse to groom our youngsters to alter their gender identification, rather than encouraging all students to be accepting of same-sex-attracted and transgender kids instead of bullying them to the point of suicide, as the Program claims to do. 

Personally I care not what gender any of my kids and grandkids prefer to inhabit as long as they try to be kind, decent humans and use the good brains they were born with, especially to learn to distinguish between truth and horse excrement.

An agenda that I do object to most strongly is the ‘Christian’ one that sees youngsters, before their powers of protective critical thinking have had any time to form, brainwashed with dodgy religious doctrine including far-fetched yarns of a god making a woman pregnant, risings from the dead and other stories that can for a time turn a child’s brain to mush.

“Give me the child to the age of seven and I will show you the man,” said St Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits. Originally it seems to be a quote from Aristotle.

Such brainwashing of children is tantamount to child abuse in my view.

Good old Lyle is one of the horsemen, not of the Apocalypse, but “of those armies of the night, those superstitious forces of bigotry and fright!”

That quote comes from Philip Adams, apparently via Isaac Asimov.

If there are any gods out there, which I seriously doubt, please save us from these ACL types who relentlessly seek to loosen our common sense grip on the real world.

Les Hutchinson, South Maitland


MIKE Sargent (Letters 16/9) himself takes Peter Dolan to task for correctly relying on the respected work of The Encyclopedia of Wars.  The result of 10 years’ research by holders of multiple degrees, author Charles Phillips and historian of 38 years’ experience, Professor Alan Axelrod. Individually the authors of over 60 books which have also been in the public domain and checked and peer reviewed for accuracy many times.

Mike, despite a second chance, provides no real or checkable information himself.  Relying only on personal opinion and the non-facts of “as I understand it”.

Mike does clearly state at the end, “I was not surprised to discover that the main users of the Phillips and Axelrod’s definition of a religious war were, you guessed it, religious groups.”  

This says he knows who and what religious groups and when, so why does he withhold this evidence?

As far as his sudden and inaccurate rewriting of history, I can do no better than quote eminent and practicing New York Rabbi Alan Lurie, also a successful businessman and author, from his 2012 blog: “While religious groups have been specifically targeted (most notably in World War II), to claim that religion was the cause is to blame the victim and to misunderstand the perpetrators’ motives, which were nationalistic and ethnic, not religious.”

Colin Fordham, Lambton


FOR many of us it’s unthinkable until it happens, and then it’s too late. We all face emergencies, as large as a bushfire or as personal as a medical crisis.

They can all be devastating, as so many people found out last year in the flooding across much of northern NSW in the aftermath of the severe Cyclone Debbie.

In Emergency Preparedness Week, Red Cross is asking you to take one easy action to make your next emergency less stressful. These are simple and practical steps you can take to protect the people you love, your own wellbeing and the things you value most.  Easy things to help you prepare include thinking about being in an emergency situation and how you might react, finding out where to get important disaster information, like local radio emergency broadcasters, and getting to know your neighbours.  They’re the people who might support you when an emergency happens. For more tips, get your Red Cross RediPlan at

Di Bernardi, Red Cross NSW manager emergency services

Calls for captains

RUGBY league has some great technology to review whether a try has been scored and/or whether the rules have been breached. In recent weeks there has been considerable criticism of referee's decisions, bringing the game into disrepute.

Mostly, bad decisions are either exposed or correct decisions supported during replays. Perhaps it is time to adopt what the cricketers have done and allow each captain three challenges to review disputed decisions. I doubt it would slow the game too much and because there is so much dependent upon an accurate result, any delay would be balanced by the benefits of correct adjudications.

Peter Mason, Fern Bay


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