You know what I hate….

I hate when I agree with anything Tony Blair says. It occasionally happens. His description of the Conservative agenda is bang on.”Or on economic policy, one week the absolute priority is deficit reduction. OK, again clear. But yesterday a big tax cut became the centrepiece and not a vague ‘when things are better’ aspiration; but a full-on pledge.Leave aside for a minute, the rights and wrongs of the policies. What can’t be left aside is that they are plainly diametrically opposite. So why the confusion?The benign but still disqualifying explanation is that the policy-makers are confused, not just the policies. The less benign one is that one set of policies represents what they believe in; the other what they think they have to say to win. That’s not a confusion, actually; that’s a strategy and the British people deserve to have that strategy exposed before polling day.”

What I think of the letter from his ‘holiness’.

Four thousand four hundred and ninety four words of a letter, was read out by Irish clergy to their congregations this weekend, written by His ‘Holiness’ Pope Benedict XVI. Over four thousand words, which can be summed up as follows.(Feel free to skip to the end, I won’t be offended-I have wrapped it in quotation marks so you can- it goes on a bit, and I cannot claim to be balanced in my summary)”His ‘holiness’ is deeply disturbed by the allegations of child abuse that have ‘come to light’ in Ireland. No reference to the same allegations in more countries than it is expedient for me to list in a blog post. Apparently this shock and dismay has arisen since he became aware of the Catholic church cover up of child abuse that he is personally implicated in orchestrating, before the commencement of his papacy. Apparently he and his bishops know what to do now,  they got together and had a very ‘frank and constructive’ chat. He has considered the inadequate response from his clergy in Ireland, but not considered the responsibilities of the Holy See to children throughout the world. Congregations are to be reassured that he has taken time out from his busy schedule to write them a letter proposing a path of ‘healing’. I wonder how far that path could have been travelled, had anyone been able to address the widespread systematic abuse of children earlier, instead of being hampered at every turn by the Catholic Church.He is more concerned with the task facing the Irish people, than the task facing himself, although he does say it is about time the his organisation recognised that child abuse is actually quite serious. Good start. Now he understands this he has deep sorrow. Well, that’s alright then.He reminds his congregation of all the good things that the Catholic Church has offered the world. Obviously neglecting to include culpability in genocide, or the use of its considerable power as aid and education provider, and permanent member of the UN, equivalent to a nation state- to cost millions of  lives, through restriction of condoms, contraception, and basic reproductive health services.He reminds the congregation that many of them have relatives who have ‘died for Christ’. I think that apparently makes up for the generations who have been raped for Christ, or had the rock upon which their childhoods were ‘hewn’, destroyed for Christ.He points out that actually the priests who did this, were probably affected by that nasty secularism. There ya go- if we had all listened to the Pope, they would never have done it. Apparently Catholic Church attempts at dealing with it  were ‘well intentioned but misguided’- perhaps if the church had been a bit more affected by that pesky secular society, they may have noticed that that sexual abuse of children is a very serious crime. A crime so serious that there are national scandals when Local Authorities fail in their duty to protect children from the type of people his organisation expose them to.He does eventually get round to saying he is truly sorry- he hasn’t once in the letter acknowledged anything he should feel truly sorry for. Doesn’t an apology have to do that to qualify as anything like sincere? It’s alright though, suffering is redemptive. Keep praying.He talks about how much the priests who have abused children have lost-the shame, etc.Luckily they didn’t generally lose access to more children, and the shame was a personal one: no-one at their new diocese could worry them. Loads about sincere repentance, not much about court dates, or prison sentences?He then urges parents to continue to trust the Catholic Church with their children, because while they have been busy covering up child abuse on a world wide scale, they have also been improving things…. He witters about how the church is a very different place, because apparently it was the child abuse that was new, and not just the change in a secular society, so that children could say they had been abused, and be believed and protected. He encourages children and young people to pray their way through the task ahead of them, because somehow THEIR soul being cleansed- is what is needed.He then blames the Bishops entirely, and tells them how disappointed he is. You see that in Childrens Services scandals, they sack the social workers, but management generally remain intact.”Can you think of any other organisation, who could retain so much power over children after being shown to be systematically, on a worldwide scale allowing their sexual abuse? An organisation who show no understanding of the seriousness of sexual abuse by someone in a position of authority? In direct contravention of the laws of the countries in which they operate, indeed lobbying so that child protection legislation doesn’t affect them. If any other organisation had done everything in its power to cover up that child abuse on this scale, do you think they would even be allowed access to children? Forget the moral authority of the church. This is not about theology, this is not about religious belief. This is an organisation who have a great deal of power over a great many children worldwide.As a social worker, you risk finding your name above a tabloid headline, in spite of trying to do everything in your power to protect children from the type of people this organisation exposes them to. Until recently this was still being discussed as a national problem. It isn’t, and it never was.This organisation has been responsible for generations of children being abused, worldwide, and has covered up that abuse and wilfully put children at risk.Not only do they retain this power, but their position as a ‘moral authority’ has been taken so seriously that we have watered down legislation tackling homophobic discrimination, sex education, and even adoption, to suit them.Enough is enough.

Blogging vs Journalism

When I started this blog, I described it as a symptom of the vanity that a digital age has given us all. I didn’t know what this blog would be about, and it turns out it is about me. It isn’t a description of my life, but it is a window to my perspective on the world. It is my opinion.I am no more qualified than anyone else to hold those opinions, and don’t have access to information which isn’t easily available.I have heard much comment recently about the threat of blogging to journalism. I have to say, I am not sure that that threat exists. I don’t see how one challenges the other.When I read blogs, I am reading the thoughts that people publish online. I see a window into their thought processes, opinions, and it is fascinating. Some are more likely to bring me back to read more, and some are of a much higher quality than the comment and opinion I read in the newspaper. Some are barely readable, and some, like mine- do not seem to be able to grasp that you don’t add a comma every time you pause.If you had the capacity to read every single blog, I think what you would see is a snapshot of the worlds consciousness- there for everyone to read. Unfettered by editorial demands, market forces, ethics or standards. Just for that, it has value.What gives blogging its value, is the same thing that ensures it is no threat to journalism. The fact that so many newspapers have let the lines blur between journalism and opinion- is not the fault of the blogosphere. Nor is the fact that so many blogs stand head and shoulders above some of what appears in our print media.People have easy access to information, and are less likely to look to journalists as their sole way of informing themselves. Shoddy reporting becomes apparent very quickly- and people have a more voracious appetite for quality reporting than ever before. They are also  increasingly able to tell the difference.The only journalists  bloggers are a threat to are those who have lost sight of that difference.