The absence of such dignitaries as the prime minister, governor-general, NSW premier and Sydney Anglican archbishop from George Pell’s funeral sends a powerful message to victims of clerical sexual abuse (“Top politicians, dignitaries to skip funeral of divisive Cardinal Pell”, February 2). Their life of pain, misery, confusion and heartache was never a top priority of the late cardinal.
So thank God for all these dignitaries who have exercised their consciences, for according to Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Bible: “What you did to the least of these my little ones you did unto me.″
Vincent Zankin, Rivett (ACT)
“He’s controversial because he stood up for the truth of Christ,” a mourner said. “His legacy is a huge generation of young priests and better-educated Catholics”. If turning a blind eye to child sexual abuse within the church and saying that “it wasn’t of much interest to me”, as he said at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, is the “truth of Christ”, then I want nothing of that truth, and nor should any decent person. Alynn Pratt, Grenfell
In prison Pell has been reputed as having written “This is a vexed and difficult business as many priests and teachers feel the pendulum has swung too far against the presumption of innocence”. What he really meant was “this is a vexed and difficult business because many priests and teachers feel that the pendulum has swung too far against the rules of evidence which meant that the victims of sex crimes were so damaged by the crime that their evidence could not be used in court”. These rules were soon to come to his rescue. Robert Armstrong, Berowra
The ribbons on the fences surrounding St Mary’s Cathedral symbolise the pain endured by those who have suffered clergy sexual abuse (“As George Pell departs, every ribbon tells a story the church tried to silence”, February 2). The cutting down of those ribbons symbolises the lack of empathy that made the abuse possible. Mark Porter, New Lambton
I went to St Mary’s Cathedral to tie a ribbon on the iron fence for a friend who was raped by a priest when he was seven years old. My ribbons were cut off by men and women who were physically and verbally intimidating, even to the police who subsequently arrived. What a great legacy Pell leaves us all. John Collins, Balmain
I wonder if the Police Commissioner and the Police Minister could explain what the difference between slamming an elderly man to the ground who was peacefully protesting, albeit on private property, and not removing or arresting a group of men with potential weapons, knives and scissors, who were screaming obscenities and threats and intimidating peaceful protesters outside St Mary’s Cathedral? Lee-Ann Groblicka, Turramurra
In trying to remove the ribbons from the cathedral fence the Catholic hierarchy once again puts the church and appearances before acknowledgement of those harmed. Fran Kirby, Castle Hill
If Pell’s actions were “saint-like” in the eyes of some Catholics can we expect the canonisation of George, patron saint of turning a blind eye? Col Burns, Lugarno
Schools shouldn’t be teaching values
Once upon a time, when the scale of things was much smaller in a village or community values came from the family, the parents and grandparents (Letters, February 2). By building a child’s knowledge base, schools readied the young to participate in broader society. The “right” values were perhaps enhanced but not taught at school. If you condone that a contemporary school “teaches” values then you are entering a fraught world. Circa 75 million US citizens voted for a documented, proven and chronic liar to guide their lives. What are their values? Did school develop that? We should leave the debate on public and private at the level of resourcing. Governments should not outsource education to a profit or ideologically bound provider. Neither should they ban them, just don’t enable division and elitism. And a nod to the parents and grandparents still shaping the values of the young. Brian Jones, Leura
I do not want my tax dollars going into direct funding of private schools, establishing elitism and indoctrination. Producing students who believe in their own privilege and then embark on a lifetime of protecting their wealth and position at the expense of others. Then there is the practice of weeding out troublesome and needy students back onto the state system to make their achievements look better. A fair and decent education is the right of every child. Governments must only fund private schools where there is a requirement to support them to a minimum standard and the funding is openly accountable. They are private and thus must stand on the own as all other private businesses. Neil Alexander, Grays Point
The children in our schools deserve a fair go from their governments, state and federal, and all schools should be funded on a basis of need. We need to go back to Gonski and begin repairing the damage done by almost a decade of neglect. David Harvey, Drummoyne
My girlfriend had placed our child’s “name down at birth” for a secondary private school. We were interviewed prior to year 7 and the Christians welcomed us – the single income, sinful, unwed verging on irreligious – into their community. As your correspondent noted, it allowed “a chance to mingle with people who are different, and a chance to understand and tolerate others”. It also allowed us to share the treasured 1800s architecture, the orderliness and the excellent academic performance of the young ladies and gentlemen. But we also soon observed that the real wealth – the friendship, generosity and equality – was widespread, unostentatious and discreet. Ronald Elliott, Sandringham (Vic)
None of your business
The Labor Party made a good start on many things, but falls down badly in its devotion to public/private partnerships and neoliberal solutions to problems that neoliberalism created in the first place (“Treasurer’s kumbaya capitalism”, February 2). The sticky fingers of business, where profit is king, have no place in childcare, aged care, unemployment or even superannuation, for that matter. Jim Chalmers needs to think harder and could do no better than asking what John Howard would do, and then do the opposite. Pat Francis, Jannali
Embracing economic “growth” has brought us to the edge of the climate-change clifftop. Far from advocating “degrowth”, whatever that is, I hear progressive social economists requesting stasis and spread of Earth’s resources, much like compost, to encourage the little things to grow, rather than continued engorgement for already fully bloated big consumers. Helen Lewin, Tumbi Umbi
Why are they talking about legislative details for a Voice when the current question is about “enshrining” a Voice into the constitution (“Albanese challenges Dutton to find Voice”, February 2)? It is a legislated Voice that will spell out the details and show how the Voice will promote recognition, reconciliation and redress. Perhaps the legislation should be enacted now by a parliament that has the constitutional power to do so. We could then have a more informed debate about whether the concept of the Voice should be in the constitution. Ian Bowie, Bowral
It’s quite clever referring to the premier as Teflon (“Can Teflon premier save sticky team?” , February 2). Teflon is a plastic that eventually wears off, rendering the product unfit for purpose and headed for recycling or waste disposal.
Dominic Perrottet and his “sticky team” have governed NSW using a massive sugar hit of debt. NSW’s level of debt has more than doubled in Perrottet’s time as treasurer and premier. This is debt that will have to be carried by future generations as interest rates rise. Time for a new frying pan, maybe with a more resilient ceramic coating. Glenn Johnson, Leura
About those “floods” and “more floods”: the premier needs to demonstrate he’s a politician who fulfils the promises he makes. Residents of the northern rivers of NSW are utterly sick and tired of waiting for him to stop developments on floodplains, something he promised to do in August. Col Shephard, Yamba
Hey, big spender
Looks like the Australian Hotels Association NSW may employ the tactic of “you have to spend money to make money” with industry sources, telling the they may call on cash reserves to fund a third-party election campaign opposing cashless gaming (“Pokie industry considers costly resistance tactics”, February 2). Luckily for them, the same tactic doesn’t work for the punters who visit their clubs. Graham Taylor, Mona Vale
The federal government has known since 2016, when a “review” about money laundering was completed, that there were holes in the real estate system that allowed overseas money laundering through the acquisition of property here (“Chinese property syndicate smashed”, February 2). Despite laws to supposedly prevent money laundering being enacted in 2017, those gaps in real estate compliance were never tightened. Still, I guess the $10 billion worth of acquisitions, now “smashed”, helped some sellers. Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West
Face the problem
One specialist plastic surgeon says changing one’s face to suit social media fads is “problematic” and there should always be consideration of long-term consequences. Another muses on the lovely “aesthetics of sculptured cheeks and jawlines” (“They’re lancing cheek to cheek”, February 2). We have become such a “plastic” society, prompting photos of procedures such as buccal fat removal, to be tossed about on social media for tedious, shallow and often destructive scrutiny. I wonder if these specialists, no doubt good at their craft, ever really ponder, let alone discuss with the patient, the “long-term consequences” of their banal costly endeavours, or just muse on the lovely aesthetics that they are able to manufacture while counting the dollars. Honestly, the world has gone completely nuts. Judy Finch, Taree
Negligence personified (“‘Needle in a haystack’: Search over after radioactive capsule found in WA outback”, smh.com.au, February 1). Without knowing the full details, one would assume a radioactive capsule to be transported would be secured in a purpose-built container, in a box, in a box, in a box, and secured inside the transport vehicle where the only way out was the way it came in. Geoff Simmons, Belrose
The City of Sydney has run a combined internal and outsourced cleansing and waste service for more than 20 years (Letters, February 2). IPART estimates that 95 per cent of NSW councils outsource at least one part of their waste services, and a significant majority of metropolitan councils outsource all their waste functions. Having a combined service enables us to provide a range of services, respond to community needs and respond to systemic shocks with resilience.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, including COVID-19, labour shortage and recent industrial action between our service provider and its staff, we have experienced disruptions to our services. We apologise for the inconvenience and are doing everything we can to address this problem. Monica Barone, CEO City of Sydney
I’m a veteran usher at the City Recital Hall in Angel Place (Letters, February 2). There is nothing like experiencing an audience united in rapt attention during a performance. No one moves. A standing ovation is the visceral response at the end of a wonderful show, and I’m sure the performers love it. It has nothing to do with attention-seeking. Rosemary Penman, Summer Hill
Unlike theatre, most audiences for dance are silent during the performance. Absorbed by the dexterity and skill on the stage. At the end, audiences erupt in applause, whoops and whistles. The dancers’ body language and facial expressions change by this recognition. Some in the audience may find it frustrating, but I am confident cast members appreciate the expressive gesture. Philip Smith, Waterloo
I wonder if the over-enthusiastic response from theatre audiences is another American import. I attended a performance there some years ago and, although many of the lines were amusing, they hardly warranted the almost hysterical responses. The applause and stamping at the end of the show was deafening. Robert Sharpe, Bronte
I can remember an interesting sex education lesson in high school (Letters, February 2). A teacher told our class not to ride a horse after a boy, as we could fall pregnant. Put me right off horse riding. Donna-Dianne Walker-Smith, Mittagong
The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Why is Australian TV failing to punch through internationally?
From Gilbert: “Our production, stories, acting just aren’t that good, sadly. I don’t know whether it’s cultural cringe but I tune out when I see Australian landscapes and hear Australian accents on TV. I live the Australian experience every day and am fascinated with foreign cultures, different perspectives.”
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