Deborah Gyapong: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bye Bye National Post

This is stunning. reports:

September 30, 2011 ( - The Canadian National Post, which until the advent of SUN news network was thought to be the most conservative national mainstream media outlet in the country, has shocked conservatives by apologizing for running a pro-family advertisement. Moreover, the National Post says it will be donating the thousands of dollars paid for the ad by the pro-family group to a homosexual activist group.

The ad, sponsored by the Institute for Christian Values, depicted a large picture of a little girl with the header, “Please! Don’t confuse me.” Below the photo, the youngster said, “I’m a girl. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transsexual, transgendered, intersexed or two spirited.” The ad specifically addressed the Toronto District School Board’s policy of forbidding parents to opt out of its pro-homosexual curriculum.

This is my last weekend as a National Post subscriber.

This is mean

But I confess, I laughed.

So far, the GOP TV debates have presented the electorate with a dull lineup of wooden bowling pins from which to choose. Rick Perry comes off like a dimwitted reptile; at any given time, we expect him to catch a fly with his tongue as he stands there at the podium. Mitt Romney is an icy Mormon toothpaste salesman—plus his name is “Mitt.” John Huntsman and Rick Santorum look like they’re smelling each other’s flatulence. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich both seem smart, but once you realize they both look like Santa’s elves, you can’t stop thinking they both look like Santa’s elves. Then there’s the dumb broad with the Fargo accent and the black guy who used to have cancer and sell pizzas.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Simcha Fisher on the Innocence of God

The other day, I got six kids dressed, brushed, fed, and dropped off at their three different schools; cleared the table, threw some laundry in, pulled something dinnerish out of the freezer, and settled down for some frantic writing before a dentist appointment.

I had gotten maybe four words down when my daughter toddled over with a toddler problem—something like, “Mama, I bited my banana and now my banana is bited and now I need a new banana.”

So I stormed, “YES. Absolutely. Let me GET UP from my chair and fix your problem RIGHT NOW because it’s SO IMPORTANT that I stop working RIGHT THIS MINUTE.”

And she gave a happy little hop and said, “Fanks, Mama!”

Ouch. That laid me low pretty quick. She had every right to expect me to care for her, but instead I had spewed this dreadful sarcasm into the trusting little face of someone too innocent to realize I was upset.

I’m pretty sure I’ve had this same conversation with God. I know that God is good and merciful, I should praise and thank Him for His wondrous kindness, blah blah blah. But more often than not, when I get myself to say the words I’m supposed to say—well, they’re not so sincere. If you listen closely, my prayer goes, “YES. Absolutely. Let me THANK YOU for all the wonnnnnderful things in my life, which, as You can see, have made this world SO fabulous and SO blessed.”

And He says in all seriousness, “You are welcome.”

Or I say, “All right, fine, I’m SUPER sorry for the following sins, because clearly it would be COMPLETELY JUST for you to throw me into ETERNAL HELLFIRE for breaking these rules which are not even SLIGHTLY arbitrary or unreasonable.”

And He says, “I forgive you.”


Read more:

Monday, September 26, 2011

ACCC Men in Black at 40 Days for Life vigil on Parliament Hill


Fr. Colin O'Rourke, Bishop Carl Reid, and Dean Shane Janzen

Our new deacons were there, too, but alas no picture! A few hundred people gathered on LinkParliament Hill for prayer and song before a candlelight march to a nearby abortion facility where, starting Wednesday, vigil holders will pray and proclaim the Gospel for 40 Days and bear witness to the slain unborn children and the ravaged lives of women who are often pressured into abortion. More information on 40 Days for Life here.

The candlelight march

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Simcha Fisher on healing

Read the whole thing.

One winter, I went with my mother to a charismatic healing Mass, because it couldn’t hurt. The service was emotional—tacky, to be honest— and the fervor of the scattered congregation seemed a little sheepish and forced, as they softly hooted and called “Amen!” into the chilly air of the church. We lined up and the priest recited some words of healing—I forget them utterly—over each of us. He gave us each a firm shove on the forehead, to put us off balance in case the Holy Spirit wanted to overcome anyone. A few people crumpled and passed out, snow melting quietly off their boots onto the floor. Most of us just staggered a bit under the pressure and then went back to our seats.

Well, another dead encounter with dead people in a dead world. I went to sit down. Nothing had changed because nothing could change. I was dead, and everyone else was allowed to be alive. Why? Who knows? Someone had been sent for help, but help would not come. Help was not for me.

And then I heard these words in my head, “You made Me wait. Now you can wait for a while.” They were not my words. The tone was warm, a little sad, with a small vein of humor: I think I was being teased, chided for taking so long to send for help. You like games, talitha? All right, I will play. Now, wait.

If you have ever lived inside a black hole, if you have moved about the world enclosed in a dome of sound proof glass, with no voices but your own voice, which you hate above all other sounds in the world; if you have felt so bad for so long that you don’t even want life to get better, you just want it to be over—then you will understand that it was very, very good to hear this voice.

I was not merely sitting, it told me. I was sitting and waiting. Someone was with me; or at least, someone was on the way. I was happy to wait. I was happy! This was new.

Read more:

What sweeter music . . .

Two new deacons ordained today

Fr. Shane Janzen and Bishop Carl Reid process into the ordination service

While we here in Canada sit in a holding pattern, uncertain about whether we will be able to join an Ordinariate, our ecclesial and spiritual life moves on.

We still hope to become part of the Catholic Church and we remain loyal to Archbishop John Hepworth who, as our primate, shepherded us all to this point.

We had asked for corporate reunion and we thought the Apostolic Constitution offered it to us. Maybe we are coasting to a colossal disappointment. Maybe we will experience a eucatastrophe. I have this amazing sense of peace that does not come from this world.

Today, in a joyous celebration, Bishop Carl Reid ordained Michael Trolly and Glenn Galenkamp to the diaconate. We had a glorious Mass that began with an amazing sermon by Fr. Doug Hayman, who spoke about how the deacon represents Christ as servant. His face literally shone as he spoke.

Deacon Michael Trolly, Bishop Carl Reid and behind in between Fr. Doug Hayman

We had clergy joining us from across the country: Dean Shane Janzen from Victoria, Fr. Colin O'Rourke from Calgary, Fr. Jim Tilley from Oshawa, Fr. Douglas Nicholson from Montreal and Fr. Kipling Cooper from Barrhaven. How like a family we are across the country. It's a shame that some want to see us disintegrated.

Deacon Glenn Galenkamp is to the right of Bishop Carl Reid

An oasis of peace and hope

The Western Catholic Reporter publishes my story about Adoration.

September 26, 2011

Many of us find taking a weekend or a week away for a retreat is not an option, for time, money or family reasons.

Some take “stay-cations,” turning a weekend or week at home into a retreat by unplugging the phone and the computer to set aside quiet time for prayer, reading and meditation.

But I find it hard to do either. As a journalist, my work depends on being plugged in, at least for good chunks of the day. I never know when I will have to work — my schedule is always in flux — and I often have to attend conferences or weekend events.

So, aside from the twice-yearly quiet day at my church during Advent and Lent where we gather for lectures, long stretches of quiet time and a silent meal together, I haven’t been to a retreat in more than a decade.

I have discovered, however, the simplest, most flexible way for me to make a retreat is to find my way to the nearest adoration chapel and stay there for an hour or two. Over the past year, I have done this frequently. I have also been blessed with the grace to pray three novenas that included a minimum of an hour of adoration for every one of the nine days.

This budding habit began about a year ago, after I had visited the relatively new religious community Famille Marie-Jeunesse (FMJ) in August 2010 and interviewed some of the young people who were preparing to make permanent or temporary commitments to consecrated life.


What a joy to be with them! Love and happiness shone in their faces and the peace emanating from them instantly lifted my spirits. I could benefit through just being with them in the three to four hours they spend a day in prayer.

Their prayer disciplines include at least: daily Mass; an hour of Eucharistic Adoration; and the slow, meditative praying of the rosary that is one of the movement’s hallmarks. They also study the Word of God and the Church’s teaching. The rest of the time they are free to be themselves.

Being with them, hearing about their life of prayer and most of all sharing in the fruits of the Spirit so evident among them, I felt wistful.

I joked about maybe having missed my calling, as I have always had a contemplative streak and have considered myself more of a Mary than a Martha. Was the FMJ mixture of contemplative and active life something I was meant for and somehow missed in my life?

When I returned to Ottawa from FMJ’s motherhouse in Sherbrooke last August, I wondered if I could incorporate a little more of a FMJ lifestyle into my active life. Could I add to the prayer disciplines I already have?

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which is closer to downtown Ottawa than to my home in the suburbs, has an adoration chapel in its basement. When I started to go there, I was tempted to sign up to cover an hour or so a week.

But because of my unpredictable schedule, I signed up to be a substitute adorer instead. That means I get a phone call every now and then asking me if I can fill in for someone who can’t make it for their scheduled hour. Sometimes it’s on short notice.

But I love those calls. I am being summoned to watch and pray with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and I can’t wait to be with him.


Sometimes when I’m driving home from Parliament Hill, I’ll get a little nudge, as if the Lord is saying, “Come and visit me. Sit with me for a while.” Once I went and found myself alone with him — what joy! But I also realized the nudge was a summons that he might be left alone, which should never happen when he is exposed.

This past year has been especially stressful, but those hours in Our Lord’s Real Presence, were oases of peace and such a consolation of God’s love in Jesus Christ no matter what the world was throwing at me.

I bring my prayer book, Ordo and Bible, and do the Lectionary readings for the morning or evening office (or both if I missed the previous one) and Scripture comes alive. It is so much easier to concentrate when I am so conscious of his presence and that I am directing these psalms to him. I also pray the rosary, slowly, the way they do in FMJ, and sometimes I add a prayer intention on every bead in light of the various mysteries.

I came across a blog that posted a beautiful passage by St. Claude de la Colombière. I printed it off and began taking it in with me to pray as I start my time in adoration.

“Jesus, thou art my only true and real friend. Thou dost share all my sorrows and takest them upon thyself, knowing how to turn them to my good. Thou dost listen to me kindly when I tell thee of my difficulties, and thou never failest to lighten them. Wherever I go, I always find thee; thou dost never leave me, and if I am obliged to go away, I find thee waiting for me.”


The letter closes with this prayer:

“My Saviour, do I still desire something which is not thee? Art thou not sufficient for me, shall I not love thee alone and be content to be loved only by thee! What have I come here to seek, O my God, if it be not thee?

“What does it matter what they say of me, or if I am loved or despised, well or ill, occupied with this work or with that, placed with these people or with those? Provided that I am with thee, and thou with me, I am content.”

We’re asked to remain silent in the chapel, so you might hear the clicking of beads, the rumble of the air conditioner or dehumidifier, the odd sigh or even the occasional snore. But when the room empties and it is just me alone with him, I might sing a hymn.

As I go regularly now, I recognize many of the adorers. While we usually don’t converse, there is a fellowship of love and peace that shows Jesus is present as two or three gather in his name.


Jesus also wants us to share with him our joys as well as our sorrows. And he wants to share his joys with us as one of my favourite devotional writers, Oswald Chambers, writes in My Utmost for His Highest:

“Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you.

“Have we ever let God tell us any of his joys? Or are we continually telling God our secrets, leaving him no time to talk to us?”

So I also spend time in silence, listening, gazing upon the vulnerable Lord under the guise of the Host, watching the monstrance gleam in the morning sun, letting him transform me, knit my heart to his so that when I leave I am a little more able to love with his love, to be, like my friends in FMJ, a little oasis of peace and joy for the sake of others.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

All the goings on in Australia

Are being tracked at The English Catholic.

My book review of new (and wonderful) biography of Dorothy Day

Jim Forest’s beautifully written and poignant All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day reveals the founder of the Catholic Worker movement as no ordinary saint, if her cause for beatification and canonization opened in 2000 proves successful.

The book does not gloss over any of the controversial aspects of her early life. Before becoming Catholic, Day sought an abortion, hoping losing the child would save her love affair with the baby’s father. Afterwards, she returned to their apartment to find the man had left, leaving behind only a letter urging her to forget him and a small amount of money that he had originally intended to pay a bar bill, Forest writes.

Four years later, she was delighted to become pregnant while in another relationship that, because of his atheism and her entering the Catholic Church, she realized she must end.

Day was someone who struggled with her faith in her early life, made some terrible mistakes, but then did something extraordinary with her life for the love of God that touched the lives of hundreds of thousands.

Seventeen years after Day’s death in 1980, her granddaughter wrote in The Catholic Worker, the newspaper Day and Peter Maurin founded in 1933 at the height of the Depression: “To have known Dorothy means spending the rest of your life wondering what hit you. On the one hand, she has given so many of us a home, physically and spiritually; on the other, she has shaken our very foundations.”

Forest, who not only worked with Day but had access to her writings and private papers in the preparation of the book, writes, “Whenever I think about the challenges of life in the bright light of the Gospel rather than in the gray light of money or the dim light of politics, her example has had its influence. Every time I try to overcome meanness or selfishness rising up in myself, it is partly thanks to the example of Dorothy Day... Every time I give away something I can get along without — every time I manage to see Christ’s presence in the face of a stranger — there again I owe a debt to Dorothy Day.”

This book may inspire in the reader a similar sense of indebtedness because it gives such a realistic, compassionate view of a woman who had a powerful presence and a deep faith, but suffered for it and experienced much loneliness and misunderstanding.

The one thing rarely mentioned in poverty stories

Great essay by Heather MacDonald at The Corner, my bolds:

The cardinal rule for writing about child poverty if you are in the mainstream media is this: Never, ever mention single parenthood. This New York Times article on a study showing that one in three young families with children were living in poverty in 2010 scrupulously obeys the rule. The Timesoffers several possible reasons for this recent rise in child poverty, including the high-tech, high-skills economy and the greater difficulties of going on welfare following the 1996 federal welfare-reform law. It never articulates, however, what is overwhelmingly the largest predictor of child and family poverty: The family is not a two-parent household. In 2007, single-parent families were nearly six times more likely to be poor than married-parent families; that ratio has not significantly changed. The closest the Times comes to acknowledging the role of single parenthood in child poverty is to note that blacks and Hispanics have the highest rates of child poverty. Why that would be, theTimes does not say, but it’s just what you’d expect from groups whose illegitimacy rates are 73 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

Of course, any MSM article about child poverty will foreground single mothers in its anecdotes section, but their all-important status as single parents will not be noted. The Times quotes a 27-year-old divorced mother of two in Atlanta and a 22-year-old mother of three in Atlanta, the latter of whom opines: “It’s just a hard time to be a parent.” In fact, it’s always a hard time to be a young, single parent. The inevitable crises of child-rearing can be far more catastrophic without the support system that a second parent provides.

The corollary to the ban on discussing family breakdown is the prohibition on mentioning the absent fathers. The children in an MSM article on child poverty may as well have been the product of a miraculous virgin birth, for all the acknowledgement that there is a biologically related male somewhere out there who, in a different world, would be directly contributing to the household income and welfare.

The ban on discussing the effect of family breakdown is not surprising, since the single mother has become the cornerstone of Democratic politics. She provides the justification for the continuous expansion of the welfare state. Whether the topic is government-provided health care for the poor, taxpayer-funded housing for homeless families, federal Section 8 rental vouchers, more early-childhood-intervention programs, or greater redistribution of income from the rich to the poor, the frequent flyers in all these programs are single mothers. They provide the largest constituency for every means-tested government poverty program in the country, and they are a growing constituency.

Ezra's latest battle

The National Post made it a front page story this morning. Good on them. Ezra can sometimes come off like a stand up comic, but what happened in this case is outrageous.

Is Saudi Arabia losing its cool over Canada’s growing oil sands? It certainly seems that way, based on the Middle East kingdom’s bizarre over-reaction to televisionLink commercials that promote Canada’s “ethical oil,” in contrast to oil coming from Saudi Arabia, a regime that oppresses women.

The commercials are sponsored by a tiny grassroots organization based in Toronto,, that encourages consumers to favour “ethical” oil from Canada over “conflict” oil that comes from undemocratic regimes, where most of the world’s oil reserves are located. ran the commercials on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada in late August. The Saudis responded by hiring lawyers to tell the Television Bureau of Canada, the advertising review and clearance service funded by Canada’s private broadcasters, to withdraw approval of the ads.

The group was so outraged by the Saudis’ “intimidation tactics” it started running the commercials again this week on the Sun News Network and was planning to run them on CTV, until the network backed out, said Alykhan Velshi, executive director of

In an e-mailed statement, CTV’s director of communications, Matthew Garrow, confirmed CTV News Channel received an order for an ad from Ethical Oil: “As the ad in question is the subject of a legal dispute between Ethical Oil and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the advisement of our legal department we will not accept the order until the matter is resolved,” the statement says.

Now politicians are pushing back.

Saudis ripped for trying to block pro-oil sands ad

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Jason Kenney called the Saudi Arabia’s attempt to block a pro-oil sands commercial “inappropriate and certainly inconsistent with Canada’s belief in freedom of speech.”

Sep 21, 2011 – 8:00 PM ET

Saudi Arabia’s attempt to block a pro-oil sands TV ad with a cease-and-desist request has sparked a diplomatic spat between the two oil-rich nations, with Canadian officials condemning Saudi actions as an act of “foreign interference.”

Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, told reporters the Saudi actions were “inappropriate and certainly inconsistent with Canada’s belief in freedom of speech.” A statement from the office of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that he would defend the right of “the press and third-party organizations … to speak their minds.”

Even NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said the Saudis “should stick to regulating their own affairs.”

Could you pass the test?

From Holy Post:

Many Roman Catholics should thank the saints they have never had their faith tested by Rose Andrachuk.

In January, Ms. Andrachuk, an Immigration & Refugee Board adjudicator, decided a refugee applicant’s knowledge of Catholicism put in doubt his claim to being a convert and she did not believe he would face religious prejudice if he were returned to China.

Mao Qin Wang said he had become a Catholic in 2007 by joining an underground parish. But after a series of skill-testing questions Ms. Andrachuk decided he was not the real deal.

“I find, on a balance of probabilities, that the claimant is not and never was a genuine practicing Roman Catholic,” she wrote.

“I find that the claimant’s level of knowledge of the Catholic faith is not commensurate with someone who has been a Roman Catholic for three years.”


During Mr. Wang’s 2010 hearing he was able to describe the liturgy of the mass from beginning to end (amazing!), but flubbed a question on the introductory rites.

He knew John baptized Jesus and Mary was Jesus’ mother. However, he couldn’t identify Mary’s parents — names, by the way, that appear nowhere in the New Testament and knowledge of which is hardly crucial to being a good Catholic.

He was able to explain the rosary, list the seven sacraments and some books of the Old Testament, though apparently he was not sure what they were about.

Given that most Catholics don’t read the Bible much, that last feat was pretty impressive.

I have met lifelong Catholics who say they never have to go to confession (wrong), the Pope is always infallible (wrong, wrong) and the Immaculate Conception is about the birth of Jesus (wrong, wrong, wrong).

I'm with the Anchoress on this one

I'm with the Anchoress on this one:

The Great Chinese State Theater, typically remarkable-but-bizarre and over-the-top.

Remarkable, yes. But I guess I’m old-fashioned and a traditionalist. I prefer Swan Lake without the extreme-acrobatics.

It's quite amazing but creepy at the same time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The imploding liberal/progressive world view

From First Things, an excerpt of a piece by Edward T. Oakes, SJ:

The liberal worldview has imploded so quickly because no one, absolutely no one, believes in its myth of progress anymore. To go back to Nietzsche once more: whatever else his legacy means, advanced civilizations can no longer believe that things are getting better (which is why, among other reasons, there is so much hoopla over “climate change”).

Oddly, though, and in one of the great ironies of history (which knows only one law: the Law of Unintended Consequences), the collapse of this myth of progress has been turned to great advantage by Muslims in Europe, giving them a leg up in their search for converts, as Christopher Caldwell notes in his book Reflections on the Revolution in Europe:

Islam may be quantifiably backward, but it is backward at a time when progress has acquired a bad name. To say that controversial Muslim figures “come straight out of the Middles Ages” . . . does nothing to blunt their appeal. The Middle Ages is their selling point. One need not be fundamentalist or a fanatic to worry that it is in the West’s nature to advance too far, too fast. The Green and anti-globalist movements share such worries.

By no means are liberals alone to blame for this turn of events, however. Christians, too, are deeply implicated in helping to bring about this upside-down world, especially those in the liberal churches, where dogmatic integrity is eschewed, if not completely scorned. I will conclude these somber lucubrations with another quotation from Caldwell’s immensely insightful book:

The problem is not just that Saudis do not permit Christianity in their country; it is also that Europeans are less interested in evangelizing there than Saudis are in proselytizing in Europe. As long as Muslim believers are more passionate than Christian ones, and as long as the Christian world is more free than the Muslim one, [reciprocity] is a nostalgic wish, rather than a demand.

And so we come to the dénouement of this bizarre story: an epicene liberalism practices its petty harassment on an epicene Christianity because it can afford to do so, but it gives a safe-conduct pass to Muslims because it is afraid to do otherwise.

Roger Simon on the Death of the Cool

But whatever our politics, play or otherwise, we were big time cultural rebels. Thought we were anyway. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

All of that is so over. Just as it reached its apogee, with Stevie Wonder boogieing in the White House and the values of the Sixties spread through the upper echelons of our government, filled with more czars than the Hermitage ever dreamed of with a president who palled around with Bill Ayers, for crissakes, cool is now dead.

Maybe not officially dead (how could that be?) but dead enough. In fact, not only is it dead, it’s decomposed.

Cool depended on liberalism. In fact, it was an offshoot of it, suckling on the mother’s milk of Keynesian economics. As long as there was plenty of deficit spending to go around, we could all be cool. Life would be one long evening at Max’s Kansas City.

Of course, it’s not. In today’s pay-as-you-go world, being cool is a luxury few can afford. This accounts for the extreme discomfort we may be seeing in our media and, to a lesser extent — they still have more money — Hollywood. Our media, our journos, depend on being thought cool and, consequently and perhaps more importantly, thinking of themselves as cool. When they suspect they are not, they begin to behave like worker bees when the queen is killed. They tend to run around and act out. After a while, they seem lost. Their numbers dwindle.

This is just because cool depended on a hive mind in the first place. It was little more than fad. We are well rid of it.

And in part because cool is gone, the remaining liberals are the new reactionaries. They are the ones trapped in the past, the enemies of the future.

Not that there are so many liberals anymore, outside the media. I spotted a new Prius today in a tony L.A. neighborhood sporting a pristine “Romney in 2012″ bumper sticker. Such a thing would have been incongruous, maybe even unheard of, four years ago. But cool is dead. You’re free to do what you want.

The devastation of clerical sexual abuse

Here is a very interesting interview that gives insight into what happens to victims of clerical sexual abuse:

LinkH/t The English Catholic, which is covering this unfolding story.

Last week, the Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, made a disclosure that shocked even those who know him best.

He revealed that when he was 15 and studying in a Catholic seminary in Adelaide, he was raped by priests and a fellow student, and that the abuse continued for many years - even when he was in his 20's. Two of his alleged abusers, Ron Pickering and John Stockdale, are now dead.

Five decades later, Archbishop Hepworth decided to approach the Archdiocese of Adelaide, and then Melbourne, with his story. From Melbourne, Archbishop Hepworth received an apology, compensation and recognition that there had been many "instances of sexual abuse by members of the clergy."

But his relationship with the Adelaide Diocese broke down after 4 years of dialogue, which seemed to lead nowhere.

Last Monday, the independent senator, Nick Xenophon, used parliamentary privilege to name one man, now a parish priest in Adelaide, who he said "violently and repeatedly raped" Archbishop Hepworth, then a 24 year-old priest. Senator Xenophon said the Adelaide Archdiocese had failed to deal with Archbishop Hepworth's grievance. This man has strongly denied the allegations.

Since then, Monsignor David Cappo, the Vicar-General of the Adelaide Archdiocese, has resigned as chair of the federal Government's new Mental Health Commission. And allegations have emerged that the real reason that Archbishop Hepworth left the Catholic Church was "financial irregularities" at the parish of Glenelg in Adelaide. Archbishop Hepworth says these are smears - but says he did face court in Ballarat some years later after misappropriating funds at an Anglican church.

But where does this leave Archbishop Hepworth?

He has been in discussions with police, but says he has not yet decided whether or not to press charges as he is waiting to see how the Adelaide Archdiocese will respond to his claims.

But some say his revelations of abuse and the public furore that followed may have put his own future on the line.

Archbishop Hepworth spoke to Sunday Profile after an explosive week, and I asked him exactly what happened to him when he was a 15 year old boy.

JOHN HEPWORTH: I was utterly uninformed and naive about sex. I knew nothing. But I was utterly idealistic. I had dreamed of being a priest and nothing else in my life, probably from around the age of seven or eight, when I told my parents and my grandparents, that's what I was going to do.

Going to the seminary, in those days, you went to minor seminary and completed the last couple of years of secondary schooling. That's how I went.

Within about a month I had been introduced to a much more senior student who was ordained a few years later, and given alcohol, and I suppose I'd now use the technical language grooming. I didn't know that then. And a violent sexual episode had taken place and I'd become deeply disturbed, haunted almost.

There was a rather pathetic scene. I can see myself in the seminary library trying to find information on what was happening, because I really didn't know. And of course knowing nothing about sex and discovering that most of the books that mentioned it were in Latin wasn't a great help.

JULIA BAIRD: So what did it mean then that you were being groomed?

JOHN HEPWORTH: Well, it meant that another student, as I say, the close friend of this student, was on one hand telling me that it was a great honour to be friends with this older student and it would be an honour if he invited me to his home in Melbourne, which he did, and that I should say nothing of this.

It was an opening up for me who had led a very simple life. And it was suddenly exciting. The discussions, the conversation, the things they knew about, were for me totally new worlds. So there was a certain thrill, a sense of fulfilment as well as a sense of pain and a situation that I had no way of knowing how to escape.

I did go up to see the then rector of the seminary and tried to start talking about what was happening. By that time, of , I'd been passed on to another priest, notorious priest, Pickering, in Melbourne, who was the most urbane, interesting, fascinating person, frequently came to Adelaide and was friends with the other student and so on.

But I went up to see the rector and began to tell the story. And he stopped me and said that I would have to leave the seminary if I was going to say things like that. So we chatted for a few minutes about generalities and I just left and went home again on the bus.

JULIA BAIRD: You told the psychiatrist working for the Melbourne Archdiocese independent commissioner for sexual abuse that whenever you saw a statue of Mary theabuse came flooding back. Is that true?

JOHN HEPWORTH: Yes. One of the things I've learned as a bishop and administering professional standards, and so on, is paedophile priests particularly tend to be known as very devout at the altar. People comment on how beautifully they say mass.

That was true of Pickering and Stockdale. They tended to be blasphemous in their sexuality. And Pickering was known, I think, and I knew him as somebody who was devout and upheld the old ways, the old Mass and Latin Mass and all those things, and argued coherently against modern ways.

And yet he would use blasphemies about Our Lady in sex that were absolutely confronting and dreadful. And I took several years of this four year process before I felt able to tell Peter O'Callaghan. I find it very hard to talk about.

JULIA BAIRD: Given the potency of those kinds of experiences, did this affect your faith?

JOHN HEPWORTH: I was in deep emotional conflict. There was part of me desperately trying to escape and part of me determined to stay where I had always wanted to be.

I had the example in those days of that Italian saint young lady who was murdered resisting rape. And this was the great example the Church put up of somebody who had chosen to resist even to death. And I thought that's not me, added to the guilt.

But deep conflict. It's amazing I survived. And I think I was putting up an extraordinarily tough shell. People say now who knew me then that I was unapproachable, difficult to talk to, a loner.

I had not much dealings even with my family then. I was terrified what my parents would say if I was charged with these things. They were still illegal.

So I think I'd characterise that, those years and in a sense all the years since as very deep conflict.

Talking about them to very experienced people now allowed me to get a better balance in terms of guilt. And there's things in my life I know are sinful but it's very difficult to sort out what was sinful and what you were driven to in trying to resolve the conflict in your life.

I'm beginning to get that balance and that's probably one of the things that is giving me a sense of peace at this stage.

JULIA BAIRD: Now you were ordained in 1968 in the Roman Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Adelaide and appointed to a parish. And you say that not long after becoming a priest there was a further series of episodes.


JULIA BAIRD: You were 27 now. Why were you unable to stop it?

JOHN HEPWORTH: I was, when I was ordained I was only barely, I was coming up towards 24. When I left I was 27.

By this stage my image of myself, even though I was six foot two and I was fairly light in those days, but I always thought myself a very small person, very weak person.

I was trying to befriend a few people, priests. I think it was out of a sense of loneliness, also a sense of an effort to belong. And then the experiences of Pickering particularly, of overtures that I couldn't resist and didn't know how to, repeated itself a number of times.

I don't know now why I couldn't resist other than I was weak, confused and somewhat afraid. I was still afraid of my previous life.

And when I had come close to people whose company I found thrilling, entertaining, invigorating and then these events happened, I think I was confusing the expectation of sex almost with friendship.

JULIA BAIRD: Does that mean that the people with which you were involved in these episodes would have thought that you had consented?

JOHN HEPWORTH: No. I would say things that were negative. No, not this. No, don't.

But I'd become used to people taking no notice. And as I say, I was coming into this from a position of real weakness and, I think, immaturity.

And I now understand, of course, that victims are often frozen at a certain stage and I think the sort of vulnerable, post adolescent stage that I entered the seminary in and that was a stage that I, of naivety or certainly feelings that everybody around me was bigger and more powerful than I was. And these were overwhelming feelings.

It's difficult now to say how was I such a fool. I find it hard to explain my weakness in those days and I still feel a real sense of shame about it. But I don't believe anybody could have thought I was consenting. I was taken advantage of


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shaft parody

Maybe you had to live in the United States in the 1970s to find this funny.

Interesting profile of Archbishop Hepworth

By Martin Daly in The Age:


THERE have been few certainties in the complex and troubled world of John Hepworth. His childhood was seared by poverty, loneliness and aggression. From the age of seven, he says, he often fled this life for the comfort and absorption of prayer.

On his own admission, Hepworth, 67, was at times an arrogant and needlessly flamboyant young man who easily made enemies as he pursued his chosen path. These traits, he concedes, may have damaged him, too, fuelling a perceived vendetta that continues to this day.

But he was a man of God, he says, and he had a dream.


Hepworth duly joined the Anglican Church, and later the Traditional Anglican Communion, where he became Primate in 2002. The TAC, described as "Anglo Catholic", opposes the ordination of women and the move away from orthodoxy and feels more comfortable within the Catholic fold. Hepworth's decision to go public about the sexual abuse is directly related to the TAC's move to rejoin Rome. He says he wants it known why he left the Catholic Church in the first place.

Hepworth is the eldest of five children. His mother had been an army captain and served in the nursing corps in Jerusalem, and his father was a sergeant. Discipline was harsh. His father was remote to him. His mother demanded respect and obedience. She would hit him for no apparent reason, and he was afraid of her. He suffered severe panic attacks, lasting up to half an hour, from childhood into his young adult life. He was often sent to stay with his father's sisters, where life was "full of fighting and aggression'', according to an account given to the Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne.

The violence that started at home was to continue through primary school and all the way to the seminary, which he entered at 15. His first abuser, within a month of entering the seminary, was Father John Stockdale, to whom Hepworth was introduced by another seminarian. Stockdale abused Hepworth for years.

The fellow seminarian arranged for Hepworth to stay with Stockdale at his family home in Box Hill, where the sexual abuse and rape continued. He met the notorious paedophile Father Ronald Pickering at the Adelaide home of a member of the gay circle to which the priests belonged. Pickering quickly became Hepworth's abuser at various locations, including his presbytery at Warburton, as well as raping him violently in a hotel.

Hepworth once contemplated suicide, planning to kill himself in Bendigo, where Stockdale was buried. He had almost reached Bendigo when he changed his mind.

Throughout the abuse, says Hepworth, he felt violated, fearful and confused. He liked the circle in which his abusers moved. There was money, and talk of music, the arts and culture. So he went along with it, but not, he says, by choice. He had been only 15 when it all started in Stockdale's rooms at the Adelaide seminary where he had been given alcohol and then violently raped.

In some way, he says, he knew no other life. And he was afraid of their threats that if he revealed what went on within the circle he would be expelled from the seminary. His parents would find out. There would be shame and ruination.

But worst of all, he says, unless he kept quiet, the dream would not happen, and he would not become a priest.

Read more:

The Archbishop Hepworth story develops

I've been busy blogging at The English Catholic regarding the Archbishop Hepworth sexual abuse allegations, but I would especially recommend you read this story by Christopher Pearson in The Australian. Here are some excerpts, my emphases:

Hepworth has consistently maintained that resolving the question of his own canonical status with the archdiocese, as a victim who had good reason to abandon his priestly duties, was inextricably linked to his role as the TAC's primate and chief negotiator with the Vatican. In one of his few replies, Wilson accepted as much when he wrote: "I will fulfil the request to report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the substance of your discussions that you have been holding with Monsignor Cappo when I am in Rome in January 2009."

However, as I reported last Saturday, there was a catch. Wilson declined to put anything to Rome in writing, saying he'd speak to CDF officials personally. Corroboration has just come to hand enabling me to convey the tenor of that conversation. At a later meeting, while Hepworth and his predecessor as global primate of the TAC, Archbishop Louis Falk, were talking, the CDF's Monsignor Patrick Burke approached them.

Hepworth recorded Burke's remarks in a letter last year to Woodman. "In an aggressive tone, he complained about my contacts with the media and stated that Philip Wilson had been here recently and said you [i.e. Hepworth] were like a madman, a lunatic. He continued in this way for some time, as we walked downstairs." Woodman, although present, was not part of that conversation, but she spoke with Burke a little later during morning tea. "He asked me outright if Archbishop Hepworth was mad and I assured him he was not." On one view, all this to-ing and fro-ing can be seen as a storm in a teacup. But there is another way in which it can be read.

Pope Benedict's first major speech after his election set out ecumenism as the first priority of his pontificate. In doing so, he wasn't referring to Rome's relations with the Baptists or the Assemblies of God but to groups with enough in common with Catholicism to make sacramental reunion possible: the Eastern Orthodox, the TAC and the conservative Lefebvrist Catholics who rejected some of the post-Vatican II changes in the late 1960s and 70s.

If the Pope and the curia decide this has just been an ill-conceived clunky process leading to a personality clash between two stubborn individuals, nothing much may come of it. If the Holy See judges that Wilson has been trying, for whatever reasons, to make life miserable for Hepworth as the TAC's chief negotiator and perhaps to delay or even forestall the dissident Anglicans' return to the fold, he will have a lot of explaining to do in Rome next month.

Did Archbishop Wilson go to CDF and, instead of reporting an ongoing investigation into Archbishop Hepworth's sexual abuse claims---claims that the Melbourne diocese have accepted-- tell officials there Hepworth is a madman? I hope there is a major investigation of this at the highest levels, because whatever the motive, if this is true, it could explain a lot about why we in the Traditional Anglican Communion have been so marginalized and why even in England where there is an ordinariate, none of our priests or even our retired Bishop Robert Mercer have been received into the Catholic Church.

Interestingly, in the summer of 2010, I received a phone call from someone who like me is not a party to negotiations in Rome, but who has a personal interest in joining an Ordinariate, someone who has a blog and who lives in North America.

He warned me the "timelines don't add up" in Hepworth's sexual abuse claims.

Here's an excerpt of what I wrote at The English Catholic:

He meant well. He was deeply concerned about his own reputation being tainted by association with Hepworth and warned me that I risked hurting mine. (I do not attribute evil motives to him. I think he was woefully used frankly.)

When I confronted Archbishop Hepworth with this information, he was stunned because that point as far as he knew, only a handful of people, including Woodman, knew that Adelaide was challenging the timelines.

I am a journalist and I had done due diligence and was satisfied that the timelines did add up.

How did an individual in North America who is not a party to negotiations inside the Holy See though he has an interest in the process similar to mine as someone who hopes to belong to an Ordinariate get access to confidential information about an ongoing abuse claim and investigation on another continent?

There is more that I did not put at The English Catholic. One of my Australian contacts, a Catholic priest, told me that he heard the exact same words said to him by an Australian prelate --not from Adelaide---around the same time: "the timelines don't add up."

Was there a whisper campaign to discredit Archbishop Hepworth's abuse claims that was so extensive it even reached North America? That's what I would like to know. And where did it originate? Did it originate in Adelaide? Are we seeing a classical pattern of "blame the victim," "cover up" and "destroy the victim's credibility" that has the collateral damage of obliterating the hopes of thousands of people like myself who want to come in with our communities into the Catholic Church? Or is there another explanation? I'd like to know, giving everyone the benefit of a doubt.

I'm not the only one who was told "the timelines don't add up." The pieces of the puzzle are being assembled.

Thankfully, Cardinal Pell got involved and recommended Hepworth's complaints be taken to Melbourne, where they have been accepted.

Contrary to claims by the archdiocese that Archbishop Hepworth had not lodged a formal complaint until this year, Ms Woodman's statement said that in November 2008 he had formally requested Archbishop Philip Wilson to take his case to Rome.

"In early 2009 Archbishop Hepworth requested details of the outcome and was told by Monsignor Cappo, 'We don't write letters like that'," the statement said.

Ms Woodman said that "in the search for justice" she had sought a meeting with Cardinal George Pell that took place in April last year: "The immediate outcome was a referral to the process of the archdiocese of Melbourne.

"The Melbourne process was completed in August this year in a timely, professional, pastoral manner. The 50-page report found that abuse occurred in South Australia."

Pell was quoted last week on this matter.

Outside parliament, Cardinal George Pell called for the Adelaide archdiocese to deal with Archbishop Hepworth's allegations "expeditiously, according to the church's 'Towards Healing' protocol".

The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia's most senior Catholic churchman, said he was deeply sorry for Archbishop Hepworth's suffering and was appalled at what he had experienced at the hands of Melbourne priest Ronald Pickering, whom the independent commissioner of the Melbourne archdiocese found had abused Archbishop Hepworth 50 years ago.

Archbishop Hepworth also alleges that, as a 15-year-old seminarian in Adelaide, he was raped by the late father John Stockdale.

Cardinal Pell last night urged the church in South Australia to act on the matter. "The public needs to be assured that the matter is being handled appropriately," he told The Australian.

"Archbishop Hepworth's position and status are not an issue in the treatment of his complaint. Complainants are always encouraged to go to the police. When someone who has been abused chooses to bring his complaint to the church rather than to the police, the integrity and implementation of the church's protocols (Towards Healing in this case) are of first importance in achieving justice for the complainant, and indeed for all concerned."