Friday, 10 September 2010

The dangers of negative predictions

Anne McElvoy in the Evening Standard quotes a senior Foreign Office source -- not a Catholic -- as saying: “You'd be very foolish as a Government to fall in with the negative voices on a papal visit. Look at Australia — he went there at the height of the backlash about his handling of child abuse and among predictions that it would be a disaster. By the time he left, more people had turned out to see him than had seen the Sydney Olympics."

The piece has some other nuggets. But it begins very oddly indeed. The papal visit, she says, "has been mired in controversy in the Catholic flock about institutional child abuse by clergy". It's not clear what "institutional child abuse" looks like -- the cases concern human beings, rather than institutions -- but even stranger is the idea that the matter has been a cause of "controversy" among Catholics. Shame, dismay, yes -- but controversy? It is not, on the whole, the Catholics who have claimed that the Pope has suffered from "reluctance to deal with it". He seems to have been very willing to deal with it.