Archive for August, 2018

Benedict breaks silence to defend his papal record

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has broken his self-imposed silence with a lengthy letter to a prominent atheist in which he defended himself from accusations that he did not do enough to bring to justice sexually abusive priests.

The former pontiff spoke of his ‘‘profound consternation’’ that ‘‘evil’’ had entered so deeply into the Roman Catholic faith. But he denied that he had, either as pope or previously as head of the Vatican office dealing with abuse cases, tried to cover up the scandals that tarnished the Church’s reputation around the world.

‘‘I never tried to cover these things up,’’ he wrote.

‘‘That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time must do everything to prevent it from repeating.

‘‘Neither is it comforting to know that, according to research, the percentage of priests who commit these crimes isn’t any higher than the percentage of other similar professions.

‘‘Regardless, one shouldn’t present this deviation as if it were something specific to Catholicism.’’

The letter was sent to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an atheist mathematician, who in 2011 wrote a book titled, ‘Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You’.

In his book, Odifreddi posed a series of polemical arguments about the Catholic faith, including the church’s sex abuse scandal.

The letter was reprinted by the leading Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and was the first published statement from Benedict since he said on retirement that he would live out his years ‘‘hidden from the world’’.

It discussed topics such as the nature of Catholic belief, the conflict between good and evil, and evolution, came two weeks after La Repubblica published a similar letter from his successor Pope Francis on atheism and agnosticism.

The Vatican said the timing of the two documents was a coincidence, rather than a concerted attempt by the two pontiffs to launch a fresh engagement with non-believers.

But the fact that a former pontiff and his successor wrote letters on the same issue within days of each other underlined the peculiarity of a situation in which, for the first time in centuries, two popes live virtually under the same roof.

While Pope Francis lives in a Vatican guesthouse called the Casa Santa Marta, his predecessor is living out his retirement in a former convent a few hundred yards away. It is not known how often the two men meet as they move around within the walls of the tiny sovereign state but they share the same private secretary – Archbishop Georg Ganswein.

Benedict’s assertion that he had done what he could to end sexual abuse by priests was disputed by groups representing the victims of paedophile clergy.

‘‘Over a clerical career that lasted more than six decades, we can’t think of a single child-molesting bishop, priest, nun, brother or seminarian that Benedict ever exposed,’’ said Barbara Dorris of the United States-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

‘‘In the Church’s entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict. As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover-up.’’

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Palmer candidate Jacqui Lambie claims final Senate seat in Tasmania

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Federal politics coverageLambie celebrates win, flips on carbon tax

The Palmer United Party has won its first seat at the election, with its candidate Jacqui Lambie taking out the final Senate seat in Tasmania.

A 42-year-old single mother with two children, Ms Lambie squeezed past the Liberals’ third candidate Sally Chandler and sex industry lobbyist Robbie Swan to win a seat in the new Senate.

In the tightest contest in Tasmanian history, Mr Swan fell just 244 votes short of overtaking Labor senator Lin Thorp at the point where one or other dropped out of the count.

With just another 0.08 per cent of the vote, the Canberra-based co-convenor of the sex industry’s Eros Foundation would have topped her vote, won her preferences and most likely gone on to take the seat.

Instead, Ms Lambie won the seat, winning 6.6 per cent of the vote, in the Palmer United Party’s best performance anywhere outside Queensland.

She was helped over the line by a horde of preferences from other parties, ranging from the libertarian Liberal Democrats to the Greens.

The Palmer United Party is certain to win a second Senate seat in Queensland, where rugby union legend Glenn Lazarus won 10 per cent of the vote, and has a 50/50 chance of winning a third seat in Western Australia, where it is in a fight with the obscure Australian Sports Party.

PUP leader Clive Palmer won the lower house seat of Fairfax by 36 votes but the slender margin means the contest is now subject to a recount, with results not expected until next week.

The Coalition’s loss means it will have only 33 seats in the new 76-member senate, one fewer than now. Labor and the Greens will have 35 seats between them, with a crossbench of eight senators holding the balance of power.

A combative former military policewoman, Ms Lambie has warned the government she will be no pushover.

”If he thinks that Pauline Hanson was a pain in the rear end, Tony Abbott better look out,” she told Fairfax Media in an interview after early counting showed she may secure the seat. ”He hasn’t come up against Jacqui Lambie.”

The AEC has also officially announced the Senate results for the Northern Territory. As expected, the Country Liberal Pary’s Nigel Scullion has retained his Senate seat, with Labor’s Nova Peris taking the second spot.

Ms Lambie joined the army at 18 and served for 11 years before a back injury forced her to quit. She then spent years fighting the Department of Veterans Affairs in the courts before it finally gave her a disability pension.

A former member of the Liberal party, she originally sought its preselection for the north-west Tasmanian seat of Braddon. When that failed, she decided to stand for the Senate as an independent, selling her house in Burnie to finance her campaign, but then ran into party leader Clive Palmer at an airport, and agreed to be his lead candidate.

Ms Lambie has already shown an independent streak, telling the ABC she disagreed with her party’s policy to remove the price on carbon. “There still needs to be a carbon tax, but it just needs to be a lot lower,” she said.

However, she appeared to change her mind on the issue after her win was announced on Wednesday, saying ”I just buggered that up”.

She has also sharply attacked both major parties over cuts to welfare payments, and urged the new government to increase the staff of the Veteran Affairs department by 50 per cent.

She will replace Labor senator Lin Thorp when the new Senate takes its place next July.As expected, the other five seats in Tasmania went to sitting Labor senators Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk, Liberal senators Richard Colbeck and David Bushby, and Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

with Judith Ireland

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Roseville cinema robbery: pair arrested for assaulting police to be questioned

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Police are investigating whether two people arrested after allegedly assaulting officers at a Kirrawee fast food outlet are linked to a violent rampage across Sydney on Monday night, during which a hotel and cinema were robbed and an elderly man was carjacked.

The 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman will be questioned at Sutherland Police Station on Wednesday over armed robberies at the Roseville Cinemas and the Revesby Pacific Hotel, in which staff and customers were threatened with a sawn-off shotgun. The pair will also be quizzed about a carjacking in Lane Cove on the same night in which an 87-year-old man’s car was stolen.

The pair was arrested at a McDonald’s outlet on the Princes Highway at Kirrawee about 11pm on Tuesday after police were called to investigate reports that they were acting suspiciously.

When police spoke with the couple, the man allegedly punched a constable in the face and the woman kicked another officer twice in the head.

The man then allegedly bit the first officer on the hand before running from the restaurant. He was arrested a short time later in Monroe Avenue.

More officers who were called to the fast food outlet were allegedly assaulted by the woman, before both were taken to Sutherland Police Station.

Police will also allege the woman scratched and punched the custody sergeant at the station.

A total of seven police officers were injured during the incident, police allege.

Officers seized a number of bags that were found with the couple and they are being forensically examined.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said the Metropolitan Robbery Unit, which was investigating the robbery at the Roseville Cinemas and at the Revesby Pacific Hotel on Monday night, was waiting to interview the couple. No charges have been laid.

During Monday night’s rampage, thieves carjacked a vehicle from an 87-year-old man in the driveway of his Lane Cove home before driving to the Roseville Cinemas.

Four thieves ran into the cinema about 8pm and threatened to shoot and kill a number of cinemagoers if they did not hand over their wallets, before stealing about $1000 from the cinema box office.

The thieves then fled in the stolen car, which police say was used in another armed robbery at the hotel in Revesby later that night.

Police have urged anyone with information about the robberies to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Corletto slams NBL’s soft ‘netball’ rules

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Veteran Breakers guard Daryl Corletto is no fan of the NBL’s new refereeing interpretations, fearing they risk turning the game into netball and labelling them a backlash to last year’s rugged finals series.

But Corletto is also smart enough to understand that the Breakers have no choice but to make the necessary adjustments, even if the league does appear to be blunting one of the key attributes of the three-time champions from Auckland.

There have been no rule changes as such, but this season referees have been told to take a stricter stance on physical defending. The hope is that by freeing up offensive players the game will become higher scoring and more free-flowing.

But the new interpretations have met near total disapproval around the league, with a predictable adjustment period playing out where games are becoming dominated by fouls and free-throws.

The Breakers have headed the queue of teams struggling to adjust to the new interpretations as they’ve lost all four pre-season games and been mired in foul trouble throughout.

“It’s a massive change,” Corletto said yesterday.

“You’re basically not allowed to put any hands on an offensive player when they get the ball, and without the ball you’re only allowed to put one arm-bar on.

“It makes it difficult to fight through screens and put pressure on the ball, and it’s tough for the big guys in the post, because as soon as someone gets it and turns and faces you’re allowed no contact whatsoever.”

The NBL says it wants to make games more fan-friendly, higher scoring and in line with the international style. It has long been renowned as one of the more physical competitions.

But Corletto, into his 13th NBL season, has his theories.

“It’s been made I think because of the physical nature of last year’s finals series. But they’ve gone to another extreme where it’s basically netball.”

Corletto understands the intent, which is to generate more layups, dunks and open looks for gifted offensive players, but said for now that was not the end result.

“Games are going for nearly three hours and with 50, 60 or 70 free-throws taken. I’ve got a lot of friends who are basketball fans, and they’re telling me it’s not exciting.”

Corletto is hoping for a compromise, with referees softening their stance a little and players dialling back their physical defending.

“There’s got to be some physicality,” he said. “That’s one of the strengths of us and Perth over the last couple of years, and opposition teams have been drilled for the past few months on how to compete with that.

“Now that physical nature is being taken away. It’s an adjustment period and something we all need to get used to. It’s going to change the style, and we’ll see a lot of teams play zone defence because they don’t want to get guys in foul trouble.”

Small forward Tom Abercrombie said it was up to the Breakers to play smarter.

“We’ve been pretty stubborn so far and failed to adjust as much as other teams,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard to get any momentum when you’re stopping the game and giving the other team free-throws every possession. We need to make changes in the way we’re playing defence, and it’s things you feel like you’ve done your whole career.”

The Tall Black said there was a fine line between maintaining a defensive identity and being practical.

“We’ve always been a physical, aggressive team, and we still want to play that way. But we’ve just got to play a little smarter and know what times we can do that and when we’ve got to back it off a little bit.”

The Breakers continue their pre-season preparations with a three-game series against China’s Dongguan Leopards in New Plymouth on Sunday, Hamilton next Tuesday and Auckland two days later.

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Anglicans keep the faith in archbishop’s grand residence

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

The 0.8ha Bishopscourt must ‘be up there with the best landholdings in Melbourne’, a real estate agent says. Photo: Simon Schluter Dr Phillip and Joy Freier. Photo: Simon Schluter

Real estate agents can stop salivating because the Anglican church has ruled out selling or subdividing the Archbishop’s stunning East Melbourne residence, Bishopscourt.

Last year the church voted to sell Sydney’s Bishopscourt, in exclusive Darling Point, estimated to be worth more than $25 million.

One local agent valued Melbourne’s equivalent at $20 million to $25 million. He said the 0.8ha overlooking Fitzroy Gardens with its grand 18-room, combined Italianate and arts and crafts house, ”has got to be up there with the best landholdings in Melbourne, or anywhere really, with its location and garden”.

But despite Anglican factions pushing in the 1990s to offload such an asset to fund church ministries, Melbourne Archbishop Dr Philip Freier says the place isn’t for sale.

”There’d undoubtedly be a wealthy person who’d be very happy to have it,” he said, but like St Paul’s Cathedral in the centre of town, ”the value isn’t just the monetised value”.

Aside from heritage overlays that would make development difficult, it had been purpose-built for the diocese’s first head, Bishop Charles Perry, in 1853, and was still a physical and spiritual centre.

”It’s very helpful to have a place with some flexibility for a range of interactions and a range of hospitality and a place where people can be welcomed,” Dr Freier said.

Since arriving with her husband in 2006, Dr Freier’s wife Joy was curious about past occupants of the residence behind the high fence on Clarendon Street – the 12 other bishops and archbishops of Melbourne and their families.

She initiated a social history book – Bishopscourt Melbourne: Official Residence and Family Home – to be launched by historian Geoffrey Blainey on October 7.

”You live in a place like this and you cannot help but think about the people who’ve lived here,” said Mrs Freier, singling out Bishop Perry’s social justice advocate wife Frances Perry, a founder of today’s Royal Women’s Hospital.

The book, funded by grants and donors including Professor Blainey, a local resident, details tragedies including the suicide of two daughters of 1940s archbishop Joseph Booth.

Written by historian Elizabeth Rushen, the book has few scandals but in 1928, handsome Archbishop Harrington Lees received a frosty welcome home to Melbourne.

While visiting his native England, he had married the much-younger Joanna Linnell, 15 months after his first (older) wife, the popular Winifred, died. Eyebrows were raised that Ms Linnell had visited the Lees at Bishopscourt twice while Winifred was alive.

A recurring theme is archbishops’ heavy workloads. In 1941, the day Japan invaded Pearl Harbour, Archbishop Frederick Head died when his car crashed into a telegraph pole en route to a confirmation in Mt Eliza squeezed between two city services. He was a former World War I army chaplain prone to depression, and there was talk that it wasn’t an accident.

In 1989, Archbishop David Penman revealed in an interview he worked 16-hour days and advocated relaxation. Within days he had a heart attack, and died 10 weeks later.

The book dispels the idea that Bishopscourt is awash with servants: at present the Freiers have one employee two days a week to cook and clean, and hire caterers for large events.

They expect 2000 members of the public for an open garden weekend on November 9 and 10. Mrs Freier once called for an endowment for the upkeep of Bishopscourt, otherwise, it could ”become a burden to the church”.

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