1. Cardinal Pell gets a grilling in Rome
Everyone seems to have an opinion about Cardinal Pell’s evidence in Rome to the child sexual abuse royal commission. Most opinions are damning in various ways. I’d recommend ABC RN’s report on their PM program for a detached report, which is not unfairly selective in the pieces it quotes.
Some of them, including David Ridsdale, were positive about the meeting, and Pell agreed to help them further their case for changes in the Catholic Church. Apparently they met the Commission for the Protection of Minors which Pope Francis set up in March 2014, and Risdale says he will continue to do so in order to make Ballarat known as the healing centre for child abuse rather than the paedophile centre of Australia.
A judgement about Pell’s role swings in large part on whether you buy his story that in the main he was kept in the dark by other colleagues in the church about what was going on. Kristina Keneally for one does not buy his story. Given his aggressive personality and propensity for robust reactions I can imagine that he may have been the last one they would want to involve.
These words will hang around his neck forever:
- “It was a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me … I had no reason to turn my mind to the evils Ridsdale had perpetrated.”
At the time I thought he had misspoken. The next day he said he was confused and the words had come out wrong. But the truth is that he didn’t care enough and didn’t take enough interest.
One way or another, Pell failed in his duty of care and some think he should retire or resign. Joanne McCarthy says so and thinks the Pope’s reputation is at stake. Only the Pope can:
change canon law so that all Catholic clergy around the world must report allegations of child sexual abuse to police and authorities, which is something he has so far refused to do.
The Australian commission has come to the doorstep of The Vatican and the world has noticed. Perhaps some good will follow.
2. Abbott-Turnbull conflict goes nuclear
That’s how Michelle Grattan described it a couple of days ago with Abbott openly criticizing a “delay”, which turned out to not be a delay, in delivering new submarines and gave Turnbull some free advice on tax (don’t do it, cut spending instead).
People are asking, who does destabilisation better, Abbott or Rudd?
Mark Kenny identifies the core problem:
- The conundrum is this: delivering the core policy direction needed to inspire his party requires the leadership authority that a prime minister installed in a mid-term crisis, by definition, lacks. And yet to secure that unquestioned legitimacy in his own right via a solid election win, requires firm discipline and a united team.
Laura Tingle says a lot of interesting things, but the Government’s bad behaviour is based the belief they can’t lose.
Nicky Savva’s book The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own Government is about to hit the streets. It looks as though its intention is to stop Abbott dead in his tracks, to explode his image as a serious political figure.
Waleed Aly sees Abbott trying to rehabilitate a conservative brand of politics, but what is happening here is also a part of the slow-motion disintegration of conservative politics elsewhere in the world.
Didn’t Turnbull say it was a great time to be alive?
3. The enigma of Iranian democracy
There are elections going off around the world all the time, like in Ireland , where the results left the nation in limbo. The more democratic systems seem to do this frequently.
One of importance to all was the elections in Iran, where the moderates were said to have made gains. The Atlantic reports the views of Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Trying to analogize Iranian politics to American politics is always thorny. Winston Churchill said about Russia that it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a limited democracy, wrapped in a military autocracy, inside a theocracy. The supreme leader and Revolutionary Guards have consistently outmuscled the country’s semi-elected institutions, partly by strictly controlling who can get elected to these institutions.
Imagine if America was ruled for life by a Supreme Christian leader, always male, who was firmly backed by the U.S. military, Supreme Court, and American media, and presidential and congressional elections were only open to carefully vetted candidates who vowed not to challenge this framework.
- We shouldn’t underestimate the Iranian people’s will for change, nor the Iranian regime’s will, and means, to crush those who seek change.
But at The Guardian we are told:
- Iranians want change. They want a betterment of their lives, they want peace with their neighbours, they want radical extremists such as the Islamic State to be defeated, they want to be part of the world community, they want to be respected, they want technology (especially a fast Internet), they want jobs and they want their kids to be more successful than they are. What they don’t want is to be told that their vote doesn’t count, or that it doesn’t matter.
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.