By now you’ll be aware of Cardinal George Pell having been caught lying misrepresenting the truth about his knowledge of sex abuse within the priesthood. Regular visitors to this blog will also recall the sex abuse scandal in WA involving the leadership of the Catholic Charismatic Bethel Covenant Community, and of the Church’s endeavours (as with the Terence Goodall case) to wash its hands of the affair, though the incidents have hitherto not received much national media attention. You’ll remember that Barry Hickey, the Archbishop of Perth who is aligned politically with Pell and has in the past engaged in identical antidemocratic ad baculums against Catholic parliamentarians, told the West Australian newspaper in May that the Church had received no complaints about sexual misconduct at Bethel before 2007, a claim denied by ex-Bethel members.
The Archbishop was lying. The West Australian has secured a copy of a report, outlining complaints about sexual misconduct perpetrated by leaders of the Bethel Community, that was handed to the Archbishop in August 2000. In addition to the allegations of sexual abuse, the report detailed the “cultic” nature of the community and degree of control the leadership wielded over the members’ lives:
“Some (members) have witnessed some of the Bethel men . . . touching or pinching women’s buttocks, or publicly discussing sexual freedoms a woman ought to be enjoying, or even employing with her husband,” the 2000 report said. “Mr Horgan said to a woman: ‘How do you have an orgasm?’. On another occasion he said to a married woman: ‘I know what position you take, you use doggy position. Your husband told me’.
[. . .]
Mr Horgan suggested to a married woman, whilst at a restaurant, that she emulate the example of another married woman in the community who had taken her undies off and placed them in her husband’s pocket,” the 2000 document said.
The report recommended that the Church conduct an inquiry into the complaints, review its endorsement of Bethel, and offer counselling to the victims.
Hat tip to commenter DNGQ, who reports that the Archbishop has decided to make an apology. To that I have three words to say: “World Youth Day” . . . followed by two more: “damage control.”