Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Widdecombe: 'the Church doesn't do PR'

Ann Widdecombe thinks the Church's bad PR is due to "divine injunctions" preventing Catholics from boasting of their good works. But she also regrets it.

"It is frustrating that the church does so little to put its role in proportion. Meek and mild may be good, but leaving the ordinary members of the flock bleating in bewilderment as the wolves of Fleet Street snarl around them, jaws foaming with allegations, is not so good," she writes in the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' section.

On the cover-up of clerical sex abuse, she says:

"In the 1970s the National Council of Civil Liberties, an eminently respectable body staffed by eminently respectable people like Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman, actually allowed affiliation with the Paedophile Information Exchange, so little was the nature of paedophilia understood.

Cases were often dealt with by magistrates and sentences could be light. In the 1980s I was doing Samaritan training and, far from reporting cases, we treated child abuse no less confidentially than any other crime. It was the mid 1990s before we had a sex offenders' register in this country. Why would the Catholic church be expected to know what the rest of the world did not?"