Here’s a chilling little account of an incident that could be a portent of ugly things to come. A priest was opening the outside sacristy door of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in preparation for a weekday evening Mass when a young man, well-dressed in a suit and to all appearances a respectable citizen, approached him from the cathedral grounds and asked if this was the sacristy. He asked if he could go in with the priest to see it. When told it was private premises and not shown to the public, the young man became aggressive and, taking out his mobile phone, began to photograph the priest. When the priest did the same to him the young man assaulted him, making off when a security guard loomed up out of the dusk.
Why did the young man want to see the sacristy? Was it morbid curiosity? Was it because one of the sacristies (there are two) was the alleged scene of the sexual assault that resulted in a senior Catholic prelate being jailed for six years (a conviction now subject to an appeal)? Was the young man himself a ‘survivor’ or a member of some abuse victims’ support group? Did he intend to try and damage the building or to further attack the priest?
‘We must be prepared,’ the priest told the congregation later, when describing the encounter, ‘for violence against the Church here in Australia.’ This seems a logical warning, for two very big and connected reasons: the possible outcome of the appeal just mentioned and the leftist propensity to try to take the law into its own hands.
The Left long ago decided to cash in on clerical child abuse and make common cause with ‘survivors’ as a stick to beat the Roman Catholic Church with in the culture wars, also to weaken it financially by extracting maximum ‘compensation’. And when it doesn’t get its way the Left invariably resorts to violence. There’s a long history of that in Australia. Half a century or more ago the Left created its own Vietnam war here because it disapproved of the war being fought in Vietnam itself. It blocked the streets with demonstrations and ‘moratoriums’, fought with police while tediously shouting slogans of support for the murderous North Vietnamese invader Ho Chi Minh. When Australian troops came home and marched through the cities leftists spat on them and jeered them.
The prize trophy of the leftist hate mob in this country was Sir John Kerr. If this conscientious governor-general had sacked not Whitlam but a Liberal prime minister he would have lived out his twilight years as a revered elder statesman, much lauded by the Left with a lot of blather about his having faithfully interpreted the democratic will. But because it was a Labor prime minister Sir John dismissed, one who despite all his pompousness and vainglory – or because of it – was canonised by the Left as the apostle of a new, secularist Australia, a land of enforced multiculturalism and easy divorce, of taxpayers’ cash squandered on useless universities and talentless ‘artists’, Sir John was hounded from the country, forced to live abroad, mocked mercilessly on the ABC and in Fairfax cartoons and, in the words of historian Philip Knightley, ‘subject to relentless harassment whenever he appeared in public’. That continued until his death in 1991 and was the Left’s revenge.
On into our time, leftist violence over issues such as Brexit and the mere existence of President Trump has continued, with riots and demonstrations supplemented by the rise of social media as a wider battlefield.
The only Australian public figure I can think of to compare with Sir John Kerr in the pantheon of leftist demonology is the still-jailed Cardinal George Pell. He is loathed for being a conservative, a climate-change ‘denier’ and, above all, as the personification of child sexual abuse, both as a senior representative of the Catholic hierarchy and latterly as a convicted abuser himself. We do not yet know what will be the decision in his appeal, but we can be pretty sure that if the appeal is successful his enemies will not be pleased, to say the least.
A rational individual, whatever his politics, who believes Pell to be justly convicted, would shrug his shoulders if the appeal were upheld and accept that the law had taken its course. But the anti-Catholic obsessives of the Left have repeatedly shown that they have no time for that kind of rational response. At its more sophisticated, academic level, the Left has doubtless dismissed rationality itself as some sort of discredited manifestation of white ‘privilege’; at its lower shrieking street-mob base, rational argument is simply – congenitally – beyond their comprehension. And while we can expect the ABC and the ‘quality’ media, if true to past form, to do their utmost if the appeal is successful to continue their commitment to poisoning the public mind against Pell (‘Court betrays survivors’, ‘An appeal which ought never to have been permitted’ etc), the danger is that the less cerebral Left will turn physically nasty, assaulting clergy and setting fire to churches. (We know from the actress Rachel Griffiths, rejoicing in a church burning in Melbourne, that the destruction of a building ‘associated’ with abuse is a worthwhile thing, irrespective of the architectural or cultural loss.) One hopes that the police, especially in Victoria where Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was in the habit of referring to his accusers as ‘victims’, will be aware of this potential for leftist violence.
And how would Pell himself be kept safe if freed? By going into exile like Sir John, perhaps?
Naturally, if the appeal is rejected, there would be no such backlash from those who believe in Pell’s innocence or consider that he has not been fairly treated. Non-leftists accept the rules and juridical authority of our society. Leftists accept the bits that suit them. It’s fine, for example, in the leftist playbook for leftists to take over the streets and shut down a city centre, as the scientifically illiterate castropharians of ‘Extinction Rebellion’ recently did for days in London. It’s not fine for people who oppose abortion to stand peacefully outside ‘family planning’ clinics and pray. That’s ‘harassment’ of women, and feminist-fearing governments in New South Wales and elsewhere have banned it, in what we still think of as a free society.