On the morning of April 7, national television relayed the announcement of my verdict from the High Court. I watched in my cell on Channel 7 as a surprised young reporter informed Australia of my acquittal and became still more perplexed by the unanimity of the seven justices.
That is George Cardinal Pell writing on My Time In Prison for First Things magazine. The surprise and perplexity reflect the response of the majority of those hearing this news. Those of us who were delighted by the news had long experienced perplexity, though not surprise, at the years of relentless persecution of George Pell. We were in a tiny minority. We still are.
Was Cardinal Pell’s eventual acquittal, then, a victory for the Australian justice system? Was it a re-affirmation and consolidation of the principle of the rule of law? Has justice been served? Continue reading “Who won?”
[Originally published by Quadrant Online on 30th December 2019. Published in Quadrant Magazine March 2020.]
The conviction of the guilty is just; it is the unremarkable business of a just criminal jurisprudence; but the conviction of the innocent strikes at the heart of Justice. If it happens through error or negligence, it is bad enough; when it happens by design, it is an abomination that corrodes trust in the law itself.
Maimonides in the 12th century, in this commentary on Exodus 23:7 (Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked) concluded, “it is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent man to death once in a way.”
Continue reading “The Burden of Proof and the Pell Case”
The April 2015 edition of First Things included an article by Sir Roger Scruton, titled The End of the University. As Scruton points out, the university as an industrial-scale certification factory is in ruddy good health, enrolling an increasing proportion of the population. Nonetheless, his article is not about some distopian future in which these enterprises collapse, but about the distopian present, in which some essential capacity of the university has been vitiated.
It addresses also the other meaning of the phrase, “the end of the university”; exploring the process by which Scruton himself began to question his purposes in teaching: to what end?
…I asked myself what exactly I was trying to teach, and why.
Continue reading “The Samizdat University”
[A version with slight differences was published 28th April, 2019 on Quadrant Online QED.]
Notre Dame de Paris, on the Île de Cité, is a centrepiece of Europe’s Christian cultural heritage; which is to say, a centrepiece of our heritage. The shocked and sombre reaction of most Parisians to the burning Cathedral was shared by anyone with some sense of the debt we owe to the builders, not only those who laboured over centuries on the cathedral itself, but the millennial builders of our patrimony.
The Sorbonne Quarter lies over the river from the Cathedral, and the first universities emerged from the Church schools as expressions of Christianity’s commitment to learning. The Sorbonne was the second of the great universities to be founded, around 1150, after Bologna. St Thomas Aquinas studied there under St Albertus Magus as the Cathedral was being constructed.
Continue reading “Israel Folau and the Rainbow Dhimmis”
[Published in Quadrant April 2019, and on Quadrant Online as Memoirs of an Abused Altar Boy, which included links to various documents.]
…so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In May of 2015, the royal commission came to town, and opened
public hearings in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday the 19th,
with Justice McClennan presiding. Counsel Assisting, Gail Furness SC, outlined
the evidence that was expected to be given, and a number of victims gave
evidence about the abuse they suffered. The next day’s proceedings opened with
the evidence of Gordon Hill about his abuse at the hands of priests and nuns
while he lived at St Joseph’s Home in Sebastopol near Ballarat. He was followed
by number of other witnesses, some of whom alleged that they had informed the
then Father George Pell about abuse centred on the Ballarat East parish, where
Pell was, for some time, an assistant priest. David Ridsdale also repeated his
allegation that Pell attempted to bribe him to keep quiet about his abuse at
the hands of his uncle, the then Fr Gerald Ridsdale.
Continue reading “The Willing Suspension of Disbelief”
[First published at The Orthosphere.]
Faithful Catholics are expected to accept that, although the Pope is elected by the Conclave of (eligible) Cardinals, the One who really selects the Pope is the Holy Ghost Himself: the cardinals are His catspaws, so to speak. It is a grave offence to leak the proceedings of the Conclave (which is why such leaking is so rare), but if the preceding is to be accepted, the machinations in the Conclave are irrelevant. Therefore, I can appreciate both the smile and the squirm of orthodox Catholics who, in these very pages, see the so-ordained Pope described as … ahem … Pope Fruit Loops I.
Continue reading “The Pope’s Commission”
[This item was first published at Catallaxy Files. The version here is slightly modified.]
About a week ago, Steve posted the article Jordan Peterson trashes the left once again. He quoted from an article by Joy Pullman, called (big breath) The Left Is Actually Afraid Of Jordan Peterson Because He’s Leading A Revolt Against Their Corruption. It was published in The Federalist. Pullman starts her article by commenting on an earlier piece from The Atlantic, by Caitlin Flanagan . I had previously read, with amazement, Flanagan’s article. It seemed to me to be schizophrenic. The quote that Pullman utilises in her second paragraph encapsulates its central weirdness. I’ll quote her here again.
They “began listening to more and more podcasts and lectures by this man, Jordan Peterson,” she writes. “The young men voted for Hillary, they called home in shock when Trump won, they talked about flipping the House, and they followed Peterson to other podcasts — to Sam Harris and Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan. What they were getting from these lectures and discussions, often lengthy and often on arcane subjects, was perhaps the only sustained argument against identity politics they had heard in their lives.”
Continue reading “Restoration as revolution”
A Little Consciousness
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
T. S. Eliot from Burnt Norton Stanza II
In 1937, The Philosophical Review published an article by Hermann Hausheer (HH) titled St. Augustine’s Conception of Time. It’s a lovely discussion of Augustine’s wrestling with the mystery of time, by a writer with great affection for the saint. He invites us to ponder, yet again, Time’s inescapable coils. Hausheer’s sources are primarily from the book in which autobiography, as we still understand it, seems to have been invented – Confessions– with some additional material from The City of God.
Continue reading “Consciousness & Time: Part 2”
Vulcans, zombies, and desert islands
Imagine, for the moment, that at some time in the 1850s a Royal Navy vessel, operating to the south of Samoa, in running from a cyclone, finds a large uncharted desert isle. Inhabitants are nowhere to be found, but inhabitants there were, at least the analogy of William Paley’s Watchmaker, because the island is replete with the artefacts of a much more technologically advanced civilisation than that of the explorers. There are buildings of peculiar construction and materials, and most mysterious of all, in all of these buildings are large “moving picture” frames. At one moment they will display scenes as from a play, though switching rapidly between characters who, while speaking, fill the whole frame. At the next, they might display scenes in strange cities of similar construction, filled with self-propelled vehicles moving at dizzying speed. In the skies are machines that fly. Again, they might show scenes from exotic landscapes, or views from the heavens onto the country far beneath, presumably from the flying machines. The people are heard to speak in a strange language, and music, often discordant, accompanies every scene. The people represented in these frames display a moral degeneracy as astonishing as the engineering itself.
Continue reading “Consciousness & Time: Part 1”
Brendan O’Neill raises a point which I have never heard in the discussion before, but which I have always felt is critical. This unprecedented redefinition of the basic building block of human society rewrites the contract that the State entered into with every currently married person. How’s that for retrospective legislation? I will return to this point below.
Continue reading “Redefining marriage”