Melbourne priests prepare to fight church attackers
Two priests from the Melbourne Archdiocese have formed a group to combat attacks on the church that they have branded the 'new anti-Semitism'.
The Age reports that the priests claim the faith has come under increasing attack from fundamentalists and the media. They cite as an example the continued criticism of the Catholic Church for sexual assaults by priests and Catholic laity, when the church, they say, has taken remedial action and when the problem is more widespread.
Fr Michael Shadbolt, parish priest of Holy Family, Doveton, and Fr Herman Hengel, parish priest of St Agatha's, Cranbourne, who have formed the Catholic Priests' Anti-Defamation League to combat the attacks, say Catholics are outraged by anti-Catholic scenes in the television show South Park aired recently on SBS.
They say scenes depicting Pope John Paul II dribbling incoherently and a priest fornicating in a confession box are part of a savage anti-Catholic campaign they call the new anti-Semitism.
While not echoing the 'new anti-Semitism' claim, Vicar-General Bishop Denis Hart agreed it was now 'very fashionable to knock the church'.
"I want to emphasise that these priests have taken matters into their own hands and are acting as individuals ... But I understand why this group has been set up. There has been a tremendous amount of attention given to some of the scandals in the church. I'm not sure that that attention has been completely fair ... But I'm confident that in time some balance will return to the debate."
Fr Shadbolt, a priest for 30 years, said his group had support from many of Victoria's estimated 600 Catholic priests. He hopes to take legal action against those who unfairly attack the church.