Protecting, and Journeying with Individual Versus Doing the Right Thing…


Senator Nick Xenophon has outed a senior catholic priest in relation to allegations of sexual misconduct against him. His reason? See this and the following extract:

‘The people of the Brighton parish have the right to know that for four years allegations have been outstanding that the priest, Ian Dempsey, raped John Hepworth and that church leadership has failed to make appropriate inquiries into this matter and that church leadership had failed to stand this priest down as a matter of course while inquiries take place.”

Was this the right thing to do on the part of the Senator? After all it was only an allegation, by someone who might have had reasons to be aggrieved in relation to a separate matter, someone who might have had an axe to grind. The priest had also categorically denied the allegation.
What it does show however, is the responsibilities of the leadership. That there was no inquiry, no apparent action taken in response to the allegation, was what disturbed many. If the inquiry had taken place and perhaps no standing down but some interim measures imposed on the priest while the inquiry is on foot, might have satisfied some, no least the parishioners.
The no-action response was a no-no. Church leadership should never be seen to have done nothing.
Protecting an individual must be taken into consideration but must never be the prime driver of most decisions.
Discerning what is right, must always be the first and prime process.
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