Adelaide suffers from "huge dose" of racism: Vicar-General Cappo

There will be an increase in violence and nastiness if good people do not fight a "huge dose" of community racism and prejudice against Asians and Muslims in Adelaide, says Adelaide Vicar-General, Msgr David Cappo.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Adelaide Advertiser, Msgr Cappo, who heads the State Government's Social Exclusion Unit and is a member of the executive committee of Cabinet, said people were fooling themselves if they thought Adelaide was a lovely multicultural society.

"I don't know about other cities but, by God, we have a huge dose of racism and nasty discrimination in Adelaide," he said.

"There's huge tensions out there," he said. "Unfortunately, among a lot of young people, the racism and prejudice I see here is awful."

In what the Advertiser describes as a veiled reference to young Anglo-Saxons, Monsignor Cappo said: "They are very harsh to Asian communities. Now the Muslims are going to get it as well.

"That saddens me about Adelaide. We have got a huge dose of real prejudice."

"There are many who are intolerant of intolerance. But, my goodness, there are plenty who aren't. I think, as a community, we are ignoring it. We are not addressing it.

"Unless good people continue to stand up, we will see increased violence and prejudice and nastiness.

"You can't simply withdraw into your own little world, your own little life."

Msgr Cappo is also preparing a detailed plan to be presented to the State Government for the overhaul of South Australia's mental health services.

"Not only are there going to be recommendations, I am going to give them an action plan for five years and I am going to say: 'In year 2007, these things need to be done and, in 2008, 09, 10 and so on'," he said. "If buildings need to be built I am going to be naming them."

Monsignor Cappo said while cost would be an issue, South Australia could not afford to do nothing.

"Unless we reform mental health we are going to have massive social problems on our hands," he said.

On the homeless, Monsignor Cappo said private firms were offering help. "I'm trying to get some new buildings in place for homeless people," he said.

He hopes to raise $5 million from private industry which would be matched by the State Government.

Sydney graves desecrated

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that vandals have desecrated hundreds of graves at Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery, most of them in the Catholic section.

However, the destruction has slowed dramatically since two men, 19 and 23, were charged with trespassing several weeks ago, but charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Catholic section works manager John Richardson said: "Despite a major security upgrade, no one was caught in the act. We engaged our own staff of a night, the police increased their presence and we generally increased patrols by our people over the course of a month.

"During the whole time we didn't see or apprehend anybody and at this point, I don't think we ever will."

The spate is the worst since 1994, when a large number of naval grave sites were demolished during an apparent drunken rampage.

Church leader: Adelaide is racist
Rookwood graves desecrated as vandals run riot (Sydney Morning Herald, 8/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Adelaide

Pell denies Australian society is racist (CathNews, 21/12/05)
Pope tells footballers: reject racism (CathNews, 3/3/06)
French bishops blame riots on politicians and economists (CathNews, 14/11/05)

9 Oct 2006