World Truth Day for Pell and Hickey

8 07 2008

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Bethel sex scandal: What Would Archbishop Hickey Do?

7 06 2008

Deny responsibility, of course.

Thanks to commenter DNGQ, I have managed to locate a copy of a West Australian article (“Church knew of sex claims,” 26/5/08) detailing the Western Australian Catholic Church hierarchy’s knowledge of and position on sexual and other abuses at the Bethel Covenant Community.

While the Church admits that it has been receiving complaints about former Bethel leader Kevin Horgan’s “style of management and autocratic exercise of authority” for years, it

claims it was not made aware of sexual allegations until last year. Archbishop Barry Hickey yesterday distanced both himself and the Church from Bethel, saying it was an independent group and must solve its own problems.

But in a joint statement with Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton which was released to The West Australian on Friday, he said he had investigated any complaints he had received from Bethel members, all of whom were Catholic. Bethel was rocked by the claims of several members that Mr Horgan, the founder and long-term leader of the ecumenical group, had groped their breasts or encouraged them to have breast enlargements. Read the rest of this entry »

Update on the Bethel Covenant Community scandal

26 05 2008

On the forum at Catholica Australia is posted the full text of a recent article in The West Australian that yields more information (but not all that much more) about the nature of the abuses at Bethel Covenant Community:

The West Australian, , Edited by Gary Adshead, , p 2, Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tongues are wagging in powerful Catholic circles after The West’s Bethel Community expose on Saturday.

Apart from deciding whether Benny Hill should be the religious splinter group’s new patron, a blog site which helped lift the lid on the titillating allegations has been shut down.

“The job of the blog is over,” declared the blog site’s mystery convener. “For all of you I pray that you all grow closer to God by the love you express to your fellow journeymen (women).”

But within hours of the blog being pulled, another had started up to funnel discussion about the crisis engulfing the West Leederville organisation.

Unfortunately, the wording of the invitation to potential bloggers could have been better considering the scandal is all about the community’s ex-leader allegedly groping female members. “Get stuff off your chest and keep the communication going,” it reads.

Forum contributor John C. Massam submitted the following Letter to the Editor: Read the rest of this entry »

Brown nipples make baby Jesus cry

24 05 2008

There appears to be an FLDS-esque situation brewing in Perth, Western Australia, concerning the Bethel Covenant Community, an Catholic Charismatic organisation founded in West Leederville in the 1980s, and whose 300-strong membership (in its heyday) bought homes close to the headquarters. Catholica Australia reports:

In early April this year allegations of sexual impropriety, financial irregularities and disquiet over “cult-like activities” first began to reach more public attention through the complaints of existing and former members of the community. Some of these were aired on internet blogs. Complaints were made to the Archdiocesan authorities as well as to the police and to the Catholic Church’s professional standards investigating authority (set up in the wake of the sexual abuse complaints the Church has been fielding in the last decade). Catholica understands that the investigations of what has happened are on-going and are being treated seriously by the relevant investigating authorities.

Details at this moment of the nature of the abuses are sketchy, and I will keep you posted, but apparently there have been forced resignations of many of the community’s leaders since April, including founders Kevin Horgan and Frank Carr. Bethel Covenant Community has issued a media statement and its own timeline of the events. This is as much as I can gather from the public record. What follows is hearsay, by which I mean that it is apparently all over the news in Perth (and I currently don’t live in Perth), including the print version of The West Australian, but has not yet appeared online.

It appears a significant leading personage would invite members of the Bethel community to his property in the south-west region of Western Australia. There he would instruct the women to show him their nipples, and then divide them into two groups: “pinks” and “browns.” Also, said significant leading personage once demonstrated to a male community member how to apply oil correctly to his wife’s nipples.

As I said, the aforementioned is hearsay, and more information would be appreciated. The important thing is that the matter is being investigated by both Church and secular authorities, counselling (involving, as an interesting aside, former Greens Senator Christabel Chamarette) has been established for the victims, and justice (hopefully) will be done. The moral of the story? Isolationist religious cults are bad for you.