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Opinion piece by Geoffrey Robertson QC published in The Sydney Morning Herald

1st March 2019

Catholic symbol

 

News of George Pell’s conviction was a fitting end to a papal summit on child abuse which achieved nothing and began with other cardinals attributing the problem to homosexuals in the priesthood.

red George Pell

The reality is that priests abuse small boys not because they are gay but because they have the opportunity. Most are not even paedophiles, but rather sexually maladjusted, immature and lonely individuals unable to resist the temptation to exploit their power over children who are taught to revere them as the agents of God.

A church that has tolerated the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children – a crime against humanity in any definition – needs to face unpalatable truths and to make drastic reforms.

Cover-ups are no longer an option. The magnitude of the crimes is well-established and the evidence of how the Vatican and its bishops hushed them up in order to protect the reputation and finances of the Catholic Church is fully proved.

By insisting upon its right to deal with allegations under medieval Canon Law weighted in favour of the defendant and providing no effective punishment, the church itself became complicit.

It has allowed abusive priests to confess without fear of any report to police; it has encouraged bishops to withhold information from prosecuting authorities; it has refused to allow Vatican envoys (papal nuncios) to co-operate with government inquiries on the excuse that it is a state [which it is not, according to International Law!] and hence they have diplomatic immunity.

 

The necessary reforms must begin with recognition that child sexual abuse is a crime, not just a sin, and must be reported to and dealt with by prosecuting authorities.

Canon Law, with its pathetic punishments of prayer and penitence, and its obligations to keep proceedings secret, must have no part in dealing with allegations of sex abuse.

Nor can the veil of confidentiality any longer be allowed to shroud the confessions of paedophiles, let alone the absolution of one priest by another (“Brother, can you spare a crime?”) The confessed abuser must be told to confess to the police or else be handed over to them.

Obviously, there should be zero tolerance for clerics who confess or are convicted. They must be defrocked and certainly not allowed any appeal to the Vatican, which in the past has permitted many to remain in holy orders – the sheep’s clothing in which they have often reoffended.

Even in countries where local bishops have announced that public prosecutors will be told of sex abuse allegations, there is always the qualification “only if the victim consents”.

It is all too easy for young victims and trusting parents to be counselled that their child’s best interests lie in allowing the church to deal with the matter “in its own way” without involving the police. They give in easily to pressure and persuasion that their complaints should be dealt with in secret under canon law.

Abolishing the role of Canon Law in dealing with sex crimes will take some papal courage, but will be relatively easy, beside the radical changes necessary to stop the abuse from happening in the first place.

The reform most often suggested is to abandon celibacy. This would not be doctrinally difficult – Christ’s disciples appear to have been married and the rule was a dogma introduced in the 11th century and almost abolished by 16th-century reformers.

But marriage does not “cure” paedophilia. Moreover, many abusive priests are not paedophiles: their disordered personalities can often be ascribed to conditions that would prevent them from forming satisfactory heterosexual relationships. Abuse happens because they are too weak or emotionally immature to resist temptation.

That temptation arises because the church indoctrinates children at an early age – as young as seven or eight – that the priest is the agent of God. Communion is an awesome miracle performed by the God-priest, and then the impressionable and nervous child is made to confess his sins and seek forgiveness, from God, represented again by the priest.

Anne.

The phenomenon of children’s unflinching obedience to sexual requests from the priest is induced by “reverential fear”: the victims have such emotional and psychological dependence on the abuser that they unquestionably obey and do not tell for many years afterwards.

It follows that the only reform that could tackle the evil of clerical sexual abuse at its source would be to raise the age at which children are first given communion and confession to, say, 13. Other churches, and the Jewish faith, leave indoctrination and spiritual commitment rituals until teenage-hood. By this stage young people are much more capable of resisting sexual advances and have more courage to report them.

Could the Pope ever contemplate this reform? The Jesuits say “Give me the boy at seven …” and now we know what this has meant. But if such reforms are not implemented, there must be consequences.

One consequence could be to reconsider, not the state, but the statehood of the Vatican. It is, after all, the only religion allowed this elevated status, with diplomatic immunities, expensive embassies and a role at the UN where it condemns programs that help homosexuals or propose family planning or gender equality.

Yet it is in reality no more than a religious enclave in Rome, without the attributes of sovereignty or even an indigenous population (no one is born there, except by accident). If it continues as an organisation that facilitates the abuse of children, it should have no immunities.

Geoffrey Robertson QC is a former UN Appeal Judge and author of The Case of the Pope (Penguin). See my review of his book here:  The Case of the Pope

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CARDINAL

In June of 2017, the best-selling book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell

 written by investigative journalist, Louise Milligan, was withdrawn from sale in bookshops across Victoria. Cardinal George Pell had just been charged with multiple historical sexual offences against children. The publisher, Melbourne University Press was concerned that the book could prejudice the case and be in contempt of court.

George Pell has since been convicted of child sexual abuse and is currently in custody awaiting sentencing on the 13 March 2019. Pell continues to maintain his innocence on all charges. His appeal hearing has been set for June 7-8, which critics claim is unfair as most inmates usually have to wait a year or longer before their challenging of a court verdict is heard.

Now that CARDINAL is available for sale again, I can finally post my review. This is a book that is even more relevant then ever, because Pell is now a convicted paedophile. His crimes are no longer just allegations.

One of the complainants Milligan interviewed for the book, whose criminal trial was recently dropped by prosecutors (due to insufficient evidence) has now elected to take the matter forward, via a personal civil action against Pell and other church and state entities, including the trustees of the Sisters of Nazareth (formerly St Joseph’s), the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the State of Victoria.

In another associated case, the father of one of two St Patrick’s Cathedral choir boys sexually assaulted by Pell, has announced that he intends to sue Pell and the Church following the death of his son due to an accidental drug overdose.

These victims’ accusations, along with many more against Pell and other Catholic clergy, and the resultant cover-ups, are also detailed by Milligan and her research is thorough; searching and reading through hundreds of documents, tracking down and interviewing victims and their families, Catholic clergy, teachers and principals.

So much of what Milligan writes about in CARDINAL is heart-breaking. e.g. Several generations of children abused by the same paedophile priest, children raped by priests at their school.  Pell’s Melbourne Response, which he established to compensate victims of Catholic clergy abuse is heavily criticised and considered dangerous. In one case, the victim was forced to confront her abuser, alone with him in a room with the door closed, before the Church would even consider compensation. And most critics say that compensation is woefully inadequate to pay for psychologists, psychiatrists, medication, etc.

It is very interesting to read about Pell’s rising authoritarianism and adherence to strict orthodoxy which enabled him to make the changes he carried out at Corpus Christi seminary in Clayton. When he was first appointed as rector, he sacked all the staff, and dismantled the strict screening processes for those young men wishing to join the priesthood. Vocations for the priesthood were plummeting so there was a worldwide shortage of parish priests.  All who wished to enter the seminary in Victoria were from then onwards accepted at face value! Someone who spoke to Milligan stated that Pell’s ‘exercise of power was ruthlessly destructive.’ The ‘veritable tsunami of child sexual abuse claims coming at the nation’s Catholic Church’ revealed that Victoria had more paedophile Catholic clergy, and victims, than in any other place in the country, and most of the paedophiles operated during Pell’s time as priest or bishop.

Yet Pell is persistent in his claims that his Melbourne Response procedures were the first to respond to help victims of clerical paedophilia, but this is hotly disputed by several critics of Melbourne Response in the book. The percentage of Catholic clergy in Australia, including Christian brothers and priests, accused of sexually abusing children, as revealed by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse, is staggering.

Another aspect of Pell’s governance of the Church which Milligan explores is Pell’s obsession that the Australian Catholic Church would disappear into obscurity because of its ‘egalitarian nature’ and he agreed with Pope John Paul ll that this egalitarian nature would undermine the authority of the clergy! Pope John Paul ll, Pope Benedict  XVl and George Pell,  are now suspected of having covered up thousands of cases of sexual abuse of children by paedophile Catholic clergy worldwide. None-the-less, by the year 2002, Pell had become a true Catholic celebrity; wined and dined by media and politicians, including Liberal prime ministers, by which time he had gained the epithet ‘a brilliant conversationalist’. But so rigid was Pell in his determination to keep the Australian Church within his parameters of strict orthodoxy, that many priests called him ‘Captain Catholic’; the Church’s reputation always came first above all else, including the safety of children. Pell had finally succeeded in making ‘his’ Australian Catholic Church in his own image. Meanwhile, hundreds of children around Australia had been raped and brutally abused by Catholic clergy, indeed were still being abused, and the Church was by this time well skilled in covering up that abuse.

Then in 2013 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established. The worm was turning.

During Cardinal Pell’s testimony at the Royal Commission, he repeatedly denied that he knew about paedophilia in his Church. The Commission’s Chair, Justice McClellan interrupted; ‘We have heard from others that paedophilia has been understood by some in the Church as sexual activity with prepubescent children but not adolescent children’. Pell said he was aware of the distinction.

‘It is not unknown, of course for priests to have engaged in sexual activity with adolescent boys, is it?’ McClellan asked. Pell replied that that was correct. So, although a priest having sex with prepubescent children was a sin and a crime of paedophilia, a priest having sex with adolescent boys was merely homosexuality? The people in the courtroom were reported to have responded with horror at this revelation. ‘So’, Milligan writes:

‘the Catholic Church that lectured to people that sexual intercourse was not permitted outside the bounds of marriage, that had railed against the contraceptive pill and condoms, this same Church had made granular distinctions between how it viewed sexual relations of whatever complexion, between adult priests and boys, depending on their age? Well, yes, it seems that it did.’ This is so very disturbing and goes some way in explaining how the Church has managed to trivialise and cover up the abuse and rape of children across the world, for decades.

The pomposity and arrogance of Pell is evident for all to see. His answers to questions during the Royal Commission, and at other public hearings, were evasive, with deliberate obfuscation and ‘I don’t recall’ replies. This can be attributed to a form of ‘mental reservation’ or ‘mentalis restrictio’ in the Latin; essentially a Catholic loophole in the truth. Many of Pell’s victims are convinced this is how he evades answering questions truthfully, even under oath. It is a theological strategy dating back centuries which involves the idea of truths ‘expressed partly in speech and partly in the mind’. Lying is considered a sin but it is a Christian’s ethical duty to tell god the truth …restricting part of that truth from human ears is okay if it serves the greater good i.e. protecting the Catholic Church’s wealth and its reputation.

The book also focuses on Pell’s propensity to blame others for the Church’s failings in protecting children from paedophile clergy. He appears to readily blame other bishops and priests, whenever he is questioned too closely. Although he often uses the phrase ‘I can’t recall’ when reminded of some particular episode or answer he has given in the past, he always has rapid recall of a name he can use to accuse another bishop or priest of negligence in using their powers to protect children e.g. bishop Mulkearns, who it is alleged frequently asked for Pell’s assistance to deal with serial paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale from ‘Catholic Ballarat’. Mulkearns even travelled to the Vatican to consult with Pope Benedict XVl. When Mulkearns sat down with the pope, Mulkearns asked him for help to deal with Ridsdale. The pope stood up, turned his back on the bishop, and walked out of the room. That’s strict Catholic orthodoxy in practice!

Could Pell have devised and upheld the strict orthodoxy of the Australian Catholic Church in order, not only to augment his own power to protect the Church and its wealth and assets, but also to keep hidden his own dark secrets?

Reading this book shines a bright light on the extreme suffering of the child victims of clerical abuse, and the breach of trust; absolutely no empathy for victims is displayed by the Catholic Church’s hierarchy. There are many people within the Church who do not believe that Pell is guilty of paedophilia, and are certain that the victims are lying and are intent only on destroying the Church. Do these supporters of Pell not realise that they are enabling paedophiles?

In May 2015, child psychiatrist and associate professor from the University of New South Wales, Carolyn Quadrio, gave evidence at the Royal Commission. She is arguably Australia’s most experienced practitioner on the impact of childhood sexual abuse throughout a victim’s life. Milligan writes that the Commission had such confidence in Quadrio’s expertise that it devoted an entire day to her evidence.

Quadrio tells Milligan during an interview that ‘when a member of the clergy abuses a child it can be more profoundly unsettling for the victim than when it is an ordinary member of the community.’ She goes on to say that the ‘trauma of betrayal itself can be more traumatic than the memory of the physical act of sexual abuse.’ Quadrio explains at length in CARDINAL, the reasons for this.

Through her many years of practice, and intense study of local and international research, Quadrio has discovered that there is a distinct difference between the way that boys respond to abuse, compared to that of girls. As Quadrio states in her evidence to the Royal Commission: ‘There needs to be a huge amount of awareness that children who are troubled, are troubled for a reason.’

I recommend this book to all parents and families, whether Catholic, or any other faith, or indeed atheists, because it will not only instruct readers on the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church, but it will ensure that sexual abuse of children on this scale, never happens again. That children will be safe at school and families will be more aware of the signs that their child is being sexually abused.

– Anne Frandi-Coory 12 March 2019

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Update 13 March 2019: Today, Cardinal George Pell was sentenced by Judge Kidd to six years in prison with a non-parole period of three years and eight months for historical sex offences against two choirboys. His name has been added to the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Update 21 August 2019:  On this date, Cardinal George Pell’s Appeal was dismissed by two of the three Court of Appeal Judges. 

I have posted this letter on my blog because it encapsulates so much that women like me, who spent all of their formative years in Catholic Institutions, want to say.

Anne in convent clothes

Anne Frandi-Coory  in Mercy Orphanage clothes aged about eight years old

Letter dated 27 August 2018.

Dear Nicola,

Thank-you for your email asking me to donate a ‘voucher, product or service’ to the Holy Virgin Mary Primary School fete.

Unfortunately I am unable to help as, unlike you, I do not support wealthy powerful corrupt international child sex rings. Supporting an organisation that promotes misogyny, homophobia, racism, violence, discrimination, sex negativity, body shaming and hypocrisy is also something I find morally repugnant. But each to their own.

It’s curious you did not mention the words ‘Catholic’ ‘Christian’ or ‘religious’ in your email asking for donations. One would assume these core tenants of your school’s values would be proudly promoted, not excluded, in order to attract donations from businesses that align with abusing children, shaming victims, protecting child rapists and other ‘traditional Catholic values’.

Supporting an organisation that has systematically and unapologetically sexually, physically, emotionally and financially abused children and adults for thousands of years would damage my reputation and impact negatively on my business. Unlike the Catholic Church, I pay tax, rates etc and have not lied to the poor, manipulated the ignorant, stolen from the the powerless, and sucked up to the powerful in order to accumulate immense wealth.

May I suggest if you are running low on funds you approach the Melbourne diocese for cash. Despite grossly and intentionally undervaluing its property portfolio (under oath) to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Catholic Church is valued at over $9 billion in Victoria, over $30 billion in Australia and more than $200 billion worldwide.

These figures are not surprising considering the average pay out to the handful of brave child sex abuse victims who have had the courage to speak out is only $45,800. As you know this pathetic and pitiful amount is due to skilled, expensive and determined lawyers and a victim blaming culture that has indoctrinated followers with a culture of fear, shame and secrecy, which you enable, and are asking me to support. I’m afraid it’s a no from me.

As a feminist I most definitely could not in good conscience donate anything to a school that bases it’s values around a book that considers women only virgins, whores, martyrs, slaves and incubators, but instructs them clearly “Wives, submit to you husbands as to the Lord” Ephesians 5:22.

I won’t keep you because I’m sure you are busy tending to your dozen or so children as a consequence of not using contraception or fertility control, keeping in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Although it’s likely you have slaves to help you run your household, considering not only does the the Bible approve of owning people but clearly instructs how slaves should behave; “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel” – Peter 2:18.

I assume you don’t work either as I can’t imagine it would be easy to find paid employment when the Bible says  “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent” – Timothy 2:12. But perhaps you work as a presenter on Channel Nine.

Your offer to promote ‘kind contributions through our Facebook pages, our newsletters (school and parish) and our sponsors’ honour board where business flyers and promotional material can be displayed’ would bankrupt me over night.

As for your assertion that donating to your fete ‘is a great way to get your business’ name out there further in the local community’;  having my support would look great for you but would lead to a total collapse of my business and self worth. I rely on my values and reputation to run my business and sleep peacefully at night.

May I share with you one of my favourite psalms that I am sure, as someone who has read the Bible, you’ll be familiar with,

“Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” – Psalm 137:9

Peace be with you.

Yours in the fellowship of Satan Prince Of Darkness,

-Catherine Deveny

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More about Catherine Deveny here: http://www.catherinedeveny.com/gigs-classes-books/

*All text and images are copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory*

*All rights reserved 16 August 2018*

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There is so much domestic violence occurring in Australia …so many women and children murdered. Why? I believe it is a societal problem, but why in 2018, can’t we find solutions?

My mother, Doreen Frandi, abandoned me when I was ten months old for various reasons which I explore in my book: Whatever Happened To Ishtar?; A Passionate Quest To Find Answers For Generations Of Defeated Mothers.

ishtar-front-cover (200x299)

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In the fifteen years of research I did for the book, I discovered how awful life was for my Italian mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I was devastated to put it mildly! The domestic violence, marital rape, too many children, no contraceptives, brutal men, etc etc. In my mother’s case, she was thrown out of my father’s Lebanese extended family’s home onto the streets of Dunedin. Just like her mother and grandmother before her, she was used and abused all her life by men. My mother had previously entered a convent to escape the violence at home, but her life as a nun didn’t give her the peace she craved.

I often wonder if I had not been placed in an orphanage and other Catholic institutions for most of my childhood, would I have also become the victim of domestic violence? Instead, I became an angry, frightened child and combative young adult, not trustful of anyone, particularly men. I was independent and passionate about whatever I chose to do, and refused help from anyone! I obviously had something to prove to the world.

Anne & Tony

Anne Frandi-Coory 6yrs old

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I loved my mother, and have never blamed her for her abandonment of me. She did her best. The nuns would never allow her to visit me in the orphanage, which broke her heart, and she suffered all her life from mental illness brought on by the guilt that she could never be the mother she wanted to be. I blame the Catholic Church which could have helped her to care for me, particularly as she was a former nun, but it didn’t! As far as the Church was concerned, my mother was a ‘fallen woman’ because her first child, a son,  was born out of wedlock. She couldn’t care for me and work as well.

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Doreen & Joseph's wedding

My father Joseph Coory and my mother Doreen Frandi on their wedding day.

It didn’t matter to the Church that my naive mother was pregnant to a soldier who was already married, which he neglected to inform her at the time of the affair. She followed him to his family home in Dunedin, and the rest is her tragic story. The father of her firstborn was my father’s younger brother. My father, 18 years older, with the best of intentions,  married her, adopted his nephew, and almost three years later, I was born. The major problem was that my red haired mother lived with the immigrant Coory family in a three storey house, in which several generations also lived. Including the father of her first child! The Coory family was a devout Catholic one, and it’s clear from my research and my memories of visits to that household,  that my pretty mother was a harlot, and her red hair proved it beyond doubt! The fact that she was Italian just added racism to the hatred the family felt towards her.

So many successive generations suffering domestic violence. It occurs in all races, cultures, religions, and countries. If there are solutions, I don’t know what they are. Societal change takes generations and we should all be looking for answers. I know one thing for sure: Australia’s current LNP government is not interested in investing in the prevention of domestic violence. It has cut funding for Women’s Refuges and other safe houses, cut Newstart and other benefits which could help single mothers. Once again, the cards are stacked against women and children!

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anne_006-twitter-2     Anne Frandi-Coory 16 August 2018

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More information here about Whatever Happened To Ishtar? 

 

 

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Tony Abbott

 

Dear Mr Tony Abbott,

former prime minister of Australia (2013 – 2015) you’re also a former Catholic priest,  who is still a devout Catholic, who has defended Catholic paedophile clergy, and who has not once stood up and denounced the Catholic Church for its failure to protect children! Shame on you, you hypocrite!

You have stated that “we store up trouble for ourselves by letting in people [Africans] who are difficult to integrate.” It takes at least three generations for immigrants to truly assimilate in my experience and in the meantime we should give them all the help they need to settle in!

I put it to you Mr Abbott, that if African Australians had raped and destroyed as many children as your Catholic clergy have done in Australia, you’d be out there with the rest of your Catholic controlled LNP government either locking them up or deporting them asap! But instead your own government even refuses to deport an Irish paedophile priest because he might get a hard time back in Ireland.

Irish-born Catholic priest Finian Egan was transferred to Australia in 1959, and he soon began committing sexual crimes against Australian children. The Catholic Church protected him in Australia for the next five decades until some of his victims (with help from Broken Rites) succeeded in getting him convicted. A Sydney court sentenced Egan to a minimum of four years in jail, and this sentence expired on 19 December 2017, when Egan was released, aged 82. According to church law, Father Egan still retains his priestly status (but is retired from parish work). In 2018, the Australian immigration authorities tried to deport Father Egan back to Ireland but Egan is contesting this order with support from church sources, including support from his previous superior in Sydney, Bishop Peter Comensoli. In 2018, Bishop Comensoli has become the new archbishop of Melbourne. – Broken Rites.

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Saying sorry to all those thousands of Australian children raped by paedophile Catholic priests and brothers just does not cut it prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

malcolm turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull, current prime minister of Australia

It is Catholic clergy who find it so difficult to integrate into normal Australian society; who instead have been sexually abusing Australian children unabated for decades. Catholic dogma decrees that once a child is baptised a Catholic it is owned by the Church, to do with as it wishes! And for centuries the Catholic Church has ripped babies from mothers’ arms, sold babies, kidnapped children from native families whose countries they have invaded, forbidden  “fallen women” (unwed mothers) to have any contact with their children! Give me African immigrants any day over Catholic clergy, Mr Abbott.

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UPDATE: As of the 24 August 2018 Scott Morrison deposed Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister of Australia in a coup led by the far right faction of the LNPGovt  which includes Tony Abbott, , Peter Dutton, Kevin Andrews, and Eric Abetz. Time now for Tony Abbott to resign from Parliament, or better still, for him to lose his seat at the next election in 2019.

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Barnaby Joyce

Updated 5 March 2018

Barnaby Joyce has made a public statement that the paternity of the baby he is expecting with his mistress, Ms Campion, is in question – “a grey area”.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has slammed the initial reporting of his relationship with Vikki Campion, saying he was never asked if he was the father of his former staffer’s unborn child and that the issue of paternity is not certain. In an interview which centred on Mr Joyce losing the second-highest political office in the country, the National’s now back-bench MP, told Fairfax Media that the baby boy he and Ms Campion are expecting in April would be raised as “mine” but conceded the identity of the biological father was “a grey area”. Mr Joyce has previously referred to the unborn baby as his son.

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Oh dear, Barnaby Joyce, – Australia’s current deputy prime minister, drunk, husband to lovely Natalie, father of four beautiful daughters, also father of his young staffer’s unborn baby, should have used a condom! Oh that’s right, he’s a good, staunch Catholic who doesn’t believe in contraceptives, and whose good Catholic family didn’t show up to his “sacrosanct” (between a man and a woman) wedding to Natalie…how do they think she felt on her wedding day; I am appalled! He has violated his wife and daughters…they are absolutely devastated! We do NOT need this kind of hypocritical right wing nut job governing Australia!

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Quotes from Barnaby Joyce concerning same sex marriage debate, and his four daughters:

We know that the best protection for those girls is that they get themselves into a secure relationship with a loving husband, and I want that to happen for them. I don’t want any legislator to take that right away from me.”

At the same time Joyce was fighting tooth and nail to exclude same-sex couples from the institution of marriage, his own marriage of 24 years was crumbling because of his affair with a young staffer in his parliamentary office.

There is now an investigation under way after allegations that corruption may have been involved in creating the  six-figure job in Queensland Senator Matt Canavan’s office for Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s pregnant staffer, Vikki Campion, after their affair created dysfunction in Joyce’s office. It is alleged that Campion did not merit being employed in the new position.

Mr Joyce’s former chief of staff,  Diana Hallam, was close with Mr Joyce’s wife Natalie and ultimately quit her job over the Deputy Prime Minister’s refusal to deal with the inappropriate relationship and the dysfunction it had caused inside the office.

 

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In 2017 there were  revelations that Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce had been conducting a sexual affair with a junior employee for close to a year despite being married and claiming to uphold ‘traditional family values’, at the same time there is an investigation underway alleging that Barnaby Joyce is at the centre of serious sexual harassment and molestation claims dating back to 2012 and involving multiple women, including a 17-year-old teenage girl. 

Barnaby Joyce’s illicit affair with his employee came about despite the New England MP regularly foisting his conservative, Catholic, ‘family values’  into the public arena, including regular claims that allowing for same-sex marriage in Australia would threaten the ‘sacrosanct’ marriages of heterosexual people like him.

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True Crime News Weekly can now reveal (13 February 2018) the testosterone and alcohol-fuelled politician [Barnaby Joyce] is alleged to have embarked on a sexual affair commencing in 2014 with high-profile Canberra-based lobbyist, Jannette Cotterell. Ms Cotterell is the founder of lobby group Executive Council and also has deep links to the Liberal Party’s favourite PR and spin manipulation machine, Crosby Textor. Mr Joyce was the Agriculture Minister at the time, having successfully transferred down from the Senate to the House of Representatives in 2013.

This is serious, because there is evidence of corruption stemming from this relationship, and True Crime News Weekly reveals that there is much more to come, including the sexual assault by Joyce on a 17 year old girl.

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More revelations are coming to light: Barnaby Joyce has purchased a block of land which he describes as “worthless” yet it borders onto a proposed rail link… A new map explains what has been going on in the Pilliga with ARTC (while MSM turns a deaf ear) to Barnaby Joyce’s Inland Rail and coal seam Gas Santos. (Thanks to Protect The West)

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   POMPEII – The Living City

by  Alex Butterworth & Ray Laurence

Pompeii book cover

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Reviewed by Anne Frandi-Coory

(Click on images to enlarge)

About the authors:

Alex Butterworth is a writer and dramatist, who holds degrees from the University  of Oxford and the Royal College of Art. Ray Laurence is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Archaeology  and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham. He was previously a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Reading. He has published seven academic books on Roman archaeology  and history.

I bought this wonderful book a few years ago and I must admit to only now getting around to reading it. The authors have written a compelling, valuable  book for any treasured collection.  I visited the partially reconstructed Pompeii in the early nineties, and even then I was amazed at how ‘modern’ and well equipped the ancient city had been.

Archaeologists have literally dug up a plethora of data out of what’s left of Pompeii revealing so much about life within the Roman Empire. Although there is a huge amount of excavation still to take place, there is enough information gathered so far, allowing scientists to gain an intimate insight into what life was like in a Roman city at that time.

Authors Butterworth and Laurence tell us that Pompeii contains probably the greatest density of data of any archaeological site in the world, but that only augments the challenge facing contemporary scholars. The sheer volume of material that can be drawn upon, along with the shortcomings in technique and record-keeping  of many of those who have worked on the site in the past, make the task of bringing all the disparate evidence into some meaningful relationship especially difficult. But the authors have managed to achieve that brilliantly,  bringing carefully selected data  together  into an enjoyable and informative read.  

Pompeii was a city ‘full of political tensions, and very strange customs.’ It was a place where competitive merchants vied for the best customers and trade routes.  Wealthy, powerful citizens pursued all manner of pleasures. But pleasures were legal only for the rich; the poor and slaves were denied such luxury. Successful merchants and renowned magistrates owned comfortable villas along the coast, exotic goods and food at their disposal. In the meantime, Emperor Nero sinks further into murder, despotism and debauchery.  Citizens of Pompeii certainly couldn’t rely on help from their Emperor after the earthquake, although he did visit some time later. Even then, although his empire was carrying massive debt because of his spending sprees, including  the building of his golden palace, he was treated to a massive orgiastic feast in one of the few luxurious villas still left standing.

Combining  the most recent archaeological and historical research,  POMPEII’s  story sucks the reader into a vivid portrait of the doomed city during the twenty five years in which the city suffered a massive, devastating  earthquake  followed 17 years later by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius which completely destroyed the city and surrounding areas beneath it. Only the wealthy living in well-built villas could afford to have their homes and water pipes repaired so that fresh water flowed  again, in the years after the earthquake.  Others moved away before the mountain blew its top. What modern scientists have learned  about earthquakes, with the help of the latest technology, is used to compare what the eruption of Vesuvius would have been like to witness and the damage it wreaked upon its environs. There is no doubt that the earthquake caused significant damage to the land on the mountain side as well as below on the plains. The death toll from the quake would have been huge, and those bodies which could not be retrieved, created even more nauseating smells with the high risk of disease . Following the upheaval livestock died from lethal fumes boiling up from the centre of the mountain through fissures opened up by the earthquake. The smell of sulphur added to the other foul odours that citizens of every city had to endure.  And since the earthquake, the people of Pompeii also had to live through frightening aftershocks which continued right up until the eruption 17 years later.

‘The earthquake that struck Pompeii and the surrounding region on 5 February,  AD 62, is thought to have measured over 7.5 on the Richter scale. In all likelihood it was the result of an upward flow of magma within the earth’s crust along the geological fault that ran under Vesuvius: having vented its fury it then subsided before finally forcing its way out in dramatic fashion during the mountain’s eventual eruption… In the cities that bore the brunt of the devastation, Pompeii and Herculaneum, the archaeological evidence suggests that scarcely a single building was left untouched.

Snippets from a couple of paragraphs in chapter entitled ‘Apocalypse’ convey  vividly the eruption of Mt Vesuvius:

‘An eruption of such force occurs, on average, only once in a thousand years: there would have been no precedent in recorded history and mythology afforded the only point of reference. It is greatly to the credit of the Younger Pliny and his scientific training that, even while he watched his uncle set sail to his death, [while attempting to rescue citizens from the erupting volcano] he was able to categorise his observations calmly enough to produce an accurate report sometime later. His account provided the textbook case of volcanic eruptions for decades to come. ..The sight of fire and stone roaring up to the heavens that Pliny witnessed from across the bay “thrusting, bulging and uncoiling , as if the hot entrails of the earth were being drawn out and dragged towards the heavens” would have been massively more terrifying when seen from Pompeii.’

 

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Graffiti Pompeii 1

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Much graffiti written on walls around Pompeii has been found which gives further insight into what ordinary citizens thought of officials and neighbours, among other things.

Rather than the ancient graffiti and political posters that once covered the walls and summoned the flavour of the lost world, the most resonant graffiti still visible in excavated Pompeii today is perhaps that in the toilets of the cafeteria: “If I’d wanted ruins I could have gone to Kabul.” ‘

However, ancient ‘graffiti, signs and especially electoral notices offer clues as to the ownership of particular dwellings within the city walls, but in the villas outside the city evidence is usually in the form of rings with name-stamps that were left there by freedmen who were most probably their bailiffs.’

A visitor seeking directions outside the city would find help in a graffito such as –  “At Nuceria ask for Volvellia  Primigenia in the Vicus Venerius by the Rome Gate.”  According to other graffiti,  Primigenia was an especially desirable prostitute.  Pompeii’s ‘red light’ district was known as the ‘Venus District’. Political graffiti were also very common inside and outside the city walls. “For the health, return, and victory of Gaius Julius Phillipus, here, to his lares, Publius Cornelius Felix and  Vitalis Cuspius make an offering .”

What makes this book even more interesting are the many vignettes of life in real time, in which are revealed the hardships  of a few slaves, freedmen and the money worries and tasks of magistrates, taken from notes  on clay tablets:

Stories had been circulating of the deadly vapours that had poured from the cracks in the hillside the previous year engulfing the flocks but also spreading pestilence to the farms and into the city. Magonimus, a doctor, trusted in his own theories though, and was glad when he and his companion had begun their climb through the vines and towards the thinner air of the mountains.He knew how the shepherds in their hilltop cabins lived to a ripe age while the dwellers on the plain and in the marshes died young and miserable. And he was relieved for awhile to be free of the mosquitos that swarmed down below, endlessly disturbing his sleep with the angry sound of their flight. …Gazing down into the broken city, its walls and gates still in ruins Magonimus’s mind drifted to the many stricken victims of the quake whom his ministrations had failed to save – their limbs twisted and bloody, their breath rasping and their clothes soiled from terror…The doctor could not rid himself of the feeling that the whole world was ailing. Pompeii was full of rumours. It was said that the subterranean cisterns that stored rainfall from the wet months were cracked and seeping, and the landowners unable to afford their repair. Water was  scarce while wine was simply being poured away. Whether from death or sudden impoverishment, buyers were failing to collect their part paid goods and so, as the law allowed, the vignerons were throwing out thousands of gallons to make space for the coming year’s vintage. And this was only the beginning of the landowners’ troubles.

Life for slaves was harsh and many barely survived. Only the luckiest were freed in adulthood and even then, if they were once the object of their master’s sexual proclivities,   some were required to be on call whenever their ex master desired. If a slave worked in the kitchens or as waiters at drunken feasts, the only food they could consume was at the end of a long  day, when they were permitted to eat the leftovers. Slaves were commodities to be traded; men, women and children, it didn’t matter, and during orgiastic feasts, were fair game to be groped, raped, or whatever the drunken guests desired.

It was not until two years earlier when Receptus had been promoted to vilicus at Fannius Synister’s farm that he had grasped the full misery that the master’s arrival could provoke. For eleven months out of twelve, Receptus’s word was law on the estate and he was loathed for it by every slave and hired hand who worked under him. It was he who saved money by cutting the rations to the sick; he who set a day-labourer adrift the instant they’d got their feet under the table; he who drove the slaves out in the face of storms and hailstones to dig pits for manure or scrub the farmstead clean, and who ordered the beatings of those who slackened at the task.

…And now , at dawn on the fourth day of his master’s visit, Receptus found himself at the Vesuvius Gate of Pompeii, dispatched to hire day-labourers from where they gathered beside the muleteers’ inn just inside the walls; specialists to graft the vines, even though he knew that the stems weren’t ready for it and wouldn’t be for another week at least…Knowing that even the best men would fail to win Synistor’s approval, Receptus chose carefully but quickly; better not to give his master time to scrutinise the slave gangs’  performance without him there to drive them on, or to intimidate the young slave girl Chloe who had been nervous for weeks since hearing that she was to meet her master for the first time. Synistor had not yet broken the news that he had decided to take her back to Rome with him as a gift for a friend.

Only certain officials such as magistrates and priests were permitted to wear the special purple of the  toga praetexta, and a man could be put to death for disobeying this law.

 

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Pompeii 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The detailed index at the back of the book is a great aid for future references. With an excellent bibliography for follow-up reading. The book contains several coloured plates and helpful maps.

-Anne Frandi-Coory  13 July 2016

Also here on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myhomelibrary/

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As an aside:

While reading this book, I could not help comparing the Holy Roman Empire and its efficient bureaucracy with the Catholic Church. After all, the Catholic Church was the state religion of the Roman Empire, and the Church had centuries in which  to copy and implement many of the Empire’s cultures and laws [Canon Law]. The Catholic Church is one of the most far reaching and well organised religions in the world. Patriarchal, altar boys/slaves, temple priests, the popes as emperors in silk gowns and hats, purple also a significant colour within the Church’s hierarchy, still  today. That the Church has in modern times been engulfed in scandals relating to the rapes of hundreds of children mostly boys, over  decades, possibly centuries, adds another comparison that cannot really be ignored. – Anne Frandi-Coory

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