Michael McGirr reviews 'The Tempest-Tossed Church: Being a Catholic today' by Gerard Windsor

This book came my way at the right moment. I read it in the week that the Royal Commission enumerated the fact that, so far, 4,444 individuals have brought cases of sexual abuse against Catholic institutions in Australia – a staggering number. I know of others who are still struggling to come forward and tell their story. The archbishop of Sydney described the response of church officialdom as ‘criminally negligent’. Yet, so far, not one bishop has been stood down. Indeed, the only Catholic bishop sacked in Australia of recent times, Toowoomba’s Bill Morris, was one of the few who did seem to handle these issues appropriately. There have been endless apologies and statements about needing to change the culture of the Catholic Church. But the culture is profoundly and self-destructively resistant to change. In the very week of much public hand wringing at the Royal Commission, I encountered two cases of ecclesiastical high-handedness and self-importance. Admittedly, both related to far more trivial issues than sexual abuse. But in both situations I was left in no doubt that the church functionary was a superior being and all others needed to know their place.

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Published in April 2017, no. 390

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