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Helping the Catholic Church out of trouble

By Peter Mcc

The Catholic Church finds itself in a bit of a bind these days. They love having their exclusive gentlemen’s club, with all the trappings and showmanship, fancy dresses, fine wines, and immunity from the Law, but suddenly folk have had enough of their treatment of children and society wants, demands actually, that they start behaving morally.

Sounds more than fair to me, but this includes changes to their sacred sacrament of Confession, and this little escape hatch will not be surrendered easily.

For those unaware of this neat little marketing tool, Confession allows you to tell the Priest your sins, and for the more than generous price of a handful of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, you get to purge your record and it’s back onto Santa’s Xmas list. Or entry to Heaven, whichever comes first.

Sounds pretty harmless, doesn’t it? But here is the sting in the tail. God doesn’t want the Priest to tell anyone what has been confessed. It’s a secret between the Sinner, God and the Priest. That means if a Priest takes Confession from a fellow Priest, and the Sin is sexual abuse of a child, the chap hearing the Confession cannot dob the offender in. Not even to his Bishop.

The Priest then has the added pressure in his job of watching repeat offenders going on to rack up more sins against kids, then rinse and repeat.

What does each party stand to gain by this behaviour?

  • The Priest taking the Confession? A ton of workplace stress unless they are also an Abuser. (And most aren’t)
  • The Sinner? Further adventures with children and literally a “Get out of Jail Free” card.
  • God? Initially no bad Press, but eventually a shit ton more and a king-sized credibility problem. Also, fewer recruits for the ground crew, unless they are a paedophile, which makes the whole approach a self-sustaining disaster.
  • The kids? They become the biggest losers. Sustained abuse, and if they are very unlucky, multiple Abusers in a party environment.

Recently Archbishop Hart expressed his preference for going to jail rather than breaking the sanctity of the Confessional so we know where his concerns lie, and I’m not going to lose any sleep over him doing time and possibly copping the same treatment from ex-victims currently in prison, but there is another option.

A survivor of Abuse at the hands of the Church, suggested, it’s dangerous to allow the Catholic Church access to kids, so he offers the following.

Simply remove the Catholic Church from the education system.

I say simply, but it would take years to achieve, but a heck of a lot easier to manage than trying to micromanage chaps who get into their secret enclaves and take a long time to root out.

There are a stack of advantages though. Hart can keep pretending he has a special relationship with God and the Sinner, the kids catch a break, the Catholic Church gets a lot less bad Press, society has less traumatised people floating around, the Church saves billions in compensation. Priests taking Confession have a heck of a lot less stress by not being an Enabler, quality recruitment should jump as their reputation improves, the current Pope can keep his head buried in the sand, but it won’t look quite so bad, and the Catholic Church will not have to suffer horrific testimony such as that given by Cardinal Pell.

Of course, the trick is how we can bring about this change. Parliament is riddled with mates of the Catholic Church. Some have even done part of the training. They are not interested in losing access to developing minds and the earlier the better. They really need to cram in their dogma before critical thinking skills click in. Ideally, they would not have access to Primary schools, and if we really want to play it safe, Secondary schools should not be under their control. That still leaves them with Catholic Universities which can be quite profitable.

This is nowhere near dealing with the entire problem, such as in other religious schools, or government institutions, but at least it tackles one of the worse groups for taking the problem seriously. When our current (popular) Catholic Pope thinks it’s enough for Priests to “look into their soul and resign” if they have sinned, then we know it’s not being taken seriously. Imagine if the police rolled up to a State school investigating a complaint of sexual abuse, and the Principal said: “I’ll make an announcement that anyone who has been naughty should hand me their resignation.” Imagine the outcry, especially from those apologists who defend the Church these days.

I’m guessing the Royal Commission will have a few recommendations aimed at prevention, and it’s highly unlikely something so drastic will get a mention. But rest assured, this sort of approach would certainly get the Catholic Church’s attention.


Bishop Hart statement:

UN tells Vatican to act:

Confessional definition:

Survivors suggestion:

Catholic abuse costs $4B in US alone:

The movie Spotlight:

Enabler definition:

This article was originally published on 1Petermcc’s Blog.

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  1. John Kelly

    I would not be holding my breath waiting for reforms that would pretend to clean up institutional abuse. Just like computers, there is always more than one way to get around a problem.

  2. Shevill Mathers

    Any financial compensation to the victims of sexual abuse should come from the various churches and institutions that allowed this abuse to take place- it should not come from taxpayers government revenue. The churches and many of these institutions enjoy a tax free status and are very well off, making them pay up will cause them some pain-but it is money they have taken from many of those families whose children have had their lives ruined.

  3. Freethinker

    I would not only concentrate on the Catholics only and look into all the religions including the Anglican, Church of England, Evangelical, etc.
    If we do not do that we are playing with a distractions allowing another groups to get away with it.

  4. Mandy vuk

    I wonder what would happen if the confessor wanted to commit property damage or attempt to kill the clergy? Would the priest then sit on his hands? Swings and roundabouts

  5. 1petermcc

    Freethinker, you have to start somewhere and why not choose the worst offender? I’m more than happy to see others dealt with too, especially the Salvos who have the same level of respect for the rule of Law that the Catholic Church has, but you need a starting point and you need to shock the Catholic Church into action. With any luck, other churches will learn to fear society.

    At the very least, this should be the threat hanging over their heads as we seek to bring them under control.

    The problem is too vast to take them all on at the same time, but if you take out the worst first, it should see knock on benefits from others and then we can work our way down the list. That should give us the maximum impact for our efforts.

  6. 1petermcc

    Mandy vuk, Church rules require that info not to be passed on, but as we can see in the courts, rules are not always followed. I’d be surprised in just such a scenario is not part of a Priests training.

  7. Freethinker

    No arguments about that, 1petermcc as long as the it not finish here.
    Many heads have to roll IMO

  8. Peter F

    Quite simply, NO power exists that can condone abuse of children.

  9. Kaye Lee

    In NSW, mandatory reporters are required by law to report to Family and Community Services if they suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm.

    Mandatory reporters are people who deliver the following services, wholly or partly, to children as part of their paid or professional work:

    Health care (e.g. registered medical practitioners, specialists, general practice nurses, midwives, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, dentists and other allied health professionals working in sole practice or in public or private health practices)
    Welfare (e.g. psychologists, social workers, caseworkers and youth workers)
    Education (e.g. teachers, counsellors, principals)
    Children’s services (e.g. child care workers, family day carers and home-based carers)
    Residential services (e.g. refuge workers)
    Law enforcement (e.g. police)

    Seems to me that if the Catholic Church refuses to abide by these laws then they should be precluded from having anything to do with children.

  10. Zathras

    To focus on Catholics in particular, It’s probably the act of confession itself that helps perpetuate many wrongs.

    If you believe you can do whatever you like and have “the evil meter” reset periodically and without consequence, why the need for morality or ethical behaviour? It’s like a get out of jail free card for your conscience.

    It’s one of the benefits of membership and not so much different from the days of selling Indulgences – a handy product to attract customers.

    As for all the offending religions, what bothers me is the high incidence of offenders from within the church itself. Are priests somehow turned toward pedophilia over time as part of their profession or does the church naturally attract predatory and opportunistic people?

    Like many inward-looking organisations, the church always places itself above its members.

    As for changing the legal standing of confession I think there are some Concordats in place that give priests legal immunity. These are secret deals between governments and the Catholic church in particular and I would be amazed if they can be broken

  11. 1petermcc

    Some persistence will be required John Kelly.

  12. 1petermcc

    Absolutely Freethinker. I hope we have the staying power to run the course.

  13. 1petermcc

    Couldn’t agree more Kaye Lee. One rule for all.

  14. 1petermcc

    Ta for the link Zathras. When i’m back at the PC I’ll check it out even though I suspect it’s going to depress me.

  15. jim

    While professing the importance of faith in their agenda, the aim is overwhelmingly to further their religions teaching………… Faith is their smokescreen and “white lies” are allowed.

  16. Florence nee Fedup

    Truth is one must concentrate on wherever children gather. Paedophiles seek out such places. The churches have made it easy for them. Sexual abuse occurs within families so seeing priests marry will make little difference. Until society treat the abuse as criminal, not to be kept within the family or institution, nothing will change.

    Keep in mind the RC has more opportunmities for paedaphiles to commit their crimes, especially 50 years ago.

    More schools both day & boarding. More orphanges & children’s homes. Priests given too much respect in the community, families & church.

  17. Vixstar

    Time to go out and help the poor , feed the needy, shelter the lost, provide for the refugees fleeing death, give voice to the great unwashed isn’t that was it all about in your sunday school classes what the f*ck happened when it became a rock spiders feeding ground and all your good deeds lay in the dust of poor tortured children. Sell the churches and form a fund like “GETUP” get off your asses travel the world and help he war torn counties with food and shelter, time to reset and find your true meaning in life.

  18. Patagonian

    I’d start by getting rid of those effing ridiculous school chaplains inflicted on us by Chimpy. I understand they aren’t necessarily Catholic, but they are religious and in my book they are all as bad as one another. My child started to realise he was transgender in junior high school. In the absence of Safe Schools he was bullied by students and even some of the staff, and the school psychologist, unequipped to deal with this issue, was totally unable to help him. I shudder to think what would have happened to him had the school chaplain got his hands on him.

  19. mick loughlin.

    A total distraction. Child abusers in the church would NEVER mention it in confession. I doubt if any of the serious offenders actually believe in god.

  20. Robert REYNOLDS

    In the Sydney Morning Herald today we learn that,

    “….Archbishop (Melbourne Catholic Archbishop, Denis Hart) has ruled out any change to breaking the seal of confession to report allegations of abuse that may be revealed by a priest or a victim.”

    We later read that,

    “He (Melbourne Catholic Archbishop, Denis Hart) said he would do anything in his power to ensure any reports of abuse made in the confessional were followed up outside of that forum, but said he could not defy canon law and break the seal of confession, and did not expect the Holy See would ever consider changing that sacrament….

    ..”I cannot see that the sacrosanct nature of confession would ever change,” Archbishop Hart told Fairfax Media after the press conference””

    Also, later in the same article,

    “It (The Royal Commission Report) also recommends that religious ministers be brought into line with police, doctors and nurses who are all obliged by law to report sexual abuse. This would include any abuse disclosures made to clergy in confession.” See,

    To me, all this on one huge danger signal which warns of how religious organizations can ‘work the system” in their favor. It is almost as though religious people are somehow, ‘above the law’. Somehow, ‘God’s Law’ takes precedence over the laws made for our society.

    It seems that by declaring your organization to be ‘a religious organization’ you can get ‘special treatment’. Often,you are not only able to get around laws that affect other people and organizations, you are also eligible for tax exemption, taxpayer subsidies for your schools and the witch-doctors for your organization are supposed to be treated with some kind of special reverence by the rest of society. If anyone has the temerity to question any of this then they are immediately accused of “denying religious freedom”, bigotry, racism, prejudice, discrimination, you name it.

    Freedom of religion is even constitutionally protected in America under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

    The purveyors of fairy-tales, hocus-pocus and mumbo-jumbo (all backed up with liberal lollops of fear and guilt) have certainly got it made.

    If you think that it is bad now, just wait until the purveyors of Sharia Law reach a critical mass.

  21. seaworks

    As the bulk of the offenders are catholic, a simple answer would be to make it mandatory for all ordained priests to have their testicles removed before their ordination.
    That should sort the problem out.

  22. Freethinker

    saeworks, tht it is an excellent idea because they suppose to not have any use for them.

  23. Wam

    The first step could be with absolution and penace.
    For the pertpretator the former is deferred to heaven and the latter is a letter to the bishop.
    For the victim the absolution is absolute and guilt destroyed and the penance an informal dinner with the bishop for the whole family.v
    It is not just the church but all institutions that caters for kids. Yet the church should take the lead in bringing WOMEN into the fore. As they are the key to cleaning up all messes caused by men.

    ps there is no celibacy for those who cannot copulate. Maybe sexreassignment may fast track women??

  24. Glenn Barry

    Denis Hart has already stated his explicit intention of breaking mandatory reporting laws, this clearly includes the segment of the organisation over which he has authority – to my mind that renders that segment of the organisation a criminal enterprise – worthy and deserving of being outlawed

  25. Matters Not

    Robert REYNOLDS at 3:33 pm I thought you were doing rather well until the last line:

    If you think that it is bad now, just wait until the purveyors of Sharia Law reach a critical mass

    So you are prone to jump at shadows too? Any evidence that Sharia is taking root in Australia? Perhaps Pauline is your source? If not – then Please Explain.

  26. jamesss

    The evil perpetrated by these cults of control requires dyer retribution. The destruction of the church of the offender. A set punishment, similar to one punch death. We are discussing the destruction of the child’s life here, into adulthood a prison sentence of hell. This criminal act is not beyond the laws of the land, to deny this morel responsibility, kick the scum out of Australia.

  27. Zathras

    Freedom of religion may indeed be constitutionally protected in America under the First Amendment of the Constitution but there is a Freedom FROM Religion Foundation over there hard at work trying to maintain the separation between Church and State.

    Before that Amendment the authors of that Constitution deliberately intended to keep religion out of government and even the “In God we trust” motto didn’t officially appear on their currency until 1956.

    Their Founding Fathers went to great lengths not to imply that the USA was to be “A Christian Nation”. That’s something claimed by others.

    Extremist Evangelism has been nibbling away at their society for decades to the point where attempts to teach creationism in place of evolution in schools is still very active today, as well as other matters that would even embarrass the Taliban.

  28. Robert REYNOLDS

    Matters Not at 10:03 pm, let me remind you of an old saying that has much relevance in this instance.

    “From little things, big things grow.”

    For example, Matters Not, a metastasizing cancer. A very apt metaphor I would suggest.

    “So you are prone to jump at shadows too? ”

    Not at all, Matters Not, I feel that,

    “A stitch in time saves 9”.

    And in response to your “Please Explain” (gosh Matters Not, you are sounding a little like Pauline yourself)

    The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has already tried to get ‘its foot in the door’ over 6 years ago. See,…….0…1c..64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.vp10Tx5B9qY

    Also in Australia

    The are myriad warning signs from Europe of what can happen when (not if) things get out of control. For instance

    In case you are unaware of it Matters Not, Sharia Law has already gained a foothold in the U.K. See

    I would also Matters Not, give the highest possible recommendation to you to read Douglas Murray’s book, The Strange Death of Europe, Immigration Identity Islam”. If that does not alarm you then nothing will.

    “Jumping at shadows” Matters Not? I do not think so my friend!!

  29. corvus boreus

    Care should be taken not to paint complex scenes with too broad a brush.

    ‘Sharia’ is a broadly defined concept within the religions of Islam, which is itself a faith with myriad permutations.
    For example, the principles and practices of adherents to philosophical/spiritual Sufism are very different from those of fundamentalist Salafists and Wahhabists.

    Unfortunately, it is Islam of the latter, more hard-line varieties that gain public/media attention, and, more disturbingly, it is also the more militantly fundamentalist, less tolerant variants that are being aggressively marketed in Australia.

    Saudi Arabia, a country deeply associated with the more repressive aspects of Islam and Sharia (eg public executions and hidden women), are spending vast sums of their oil money in order to set up mosques, religious schools and other agencies (especially ‘youth centres’) in order to promote and propagate their narrow, hardline Wahhabi ideology.overseas.

    For the record, I oppose any concessions being made to those who seek to implement aspects of sharia law, the same as I oppose any other form of religion having any legal exemptions or favors granted due to their metaphysical superstitions.

  30. Robert REYNOLDS

    Peter F, you are right to draw readers’ attention to this article from the Guardian. I was not surprised to read comments in that article such as the following,

    “(University of Queensland constitutional law professor Nicholas ) Aroney is an expert on legal pluralism, law and religion who has warned that religious freedom has become a second-class right to anti-discrimination and argued that religious freedom should include a right to practise sharia law within “strictly justifiable limits imposed by the general law”.”

    Islam has, if you like, established a beachhead in this country. The next task for them is to extend their influence in any way possible. This is why attempts such as those described by Nicholas Aroney must be resisted as strenuously as possible. If Muslims detect that there is an opening to do this then that opening will be exploited as vigorously as possible.

    We should never lose sight of the fact that when you dress yourself up as a ‘religion’ you will get away with much more for much longer.

  31. Matters Not

    Robert Reynolds _ I haven’t read the book but I have read a number of reviews. This one resonates

    Immigration, Identity, Islam; reads the sub-title, one would have hoped to see a serious discussion of these three topics and the relationship that has emerged between them. Sadly not.

    A common habit of many involved in this type of conversation, particularly the political right, is to present their arguments in the shadow of a perceived and looming existential crisis . Having stimulated the old reptilian cortex with some frightening spectacle, those particularly prone to panic and hysteria will then, it is hoped, soak up whatever narrative follows. Much head nodding, awarding of 5 star reviews, and the increase of revenue in book sales for the purveyor of this argument ensues.

    And what could be more threatening and ominous sounding than ‘The Strange Death of Europe’?

    Having settled on this theatrical title, Murray plants his feet firmly on a nexus between the three promised topics of discussion in the sub-title. The decision to examine only this narrow intersection of ideas, further reduced by his ideological prism, limits the scope and unfortunately the honesty of the next 300 or so pages.

    “But everything he has written is true!”, cry out the credulous.

    “Is it really now? Let me check that”, ought to be the response of every inquisitive mind.

    But “checking that” is made intentionally challenging by the author. If you have read the book, look again, if you are reading for the first time, watch out for; the absence of references for example. Often, when they are needed the most, when he presents something that is contentious, debatable or subject to misinterpretation, he simply does not provide a reference. This is no accident, it is an intentional attempt to obscure the source and legitimacy of what he has written, by blending his opinion with cherry picked news items and sundry other data. If you don’t believe me – check.

    Lest I be accused of the same, here is a randomly selected example from the many available:

    “Today’s Australian school children are taught that whatever it’s present virtues, their nation was founded on genocide and theft” – no reference for this extraordinary claim of child indoctrination is provided.

    Seriously look honestly for examples of this, (you will find many, many of them). Then question: Why has this not been referenced, but other information has?

    However, much of what he has written IS true and no sensible person would try to deny it. It is the disingenuous and quite unnecessary presentation of untruths, omissions and misrepresentations, to bolster his position, that is increasingly frustrating as the reader progresses through the book.

    When a survey, opinion poll or piece of research agrees with his prejudice for example; it is presented as concrete evidence in support of his claims. No further discussion of this evidence is needed. When it does not agree with him, you will notice a different approach, it is either: not presented; scrutinised for methodological or politically favourable errors; dismissed with passive language; or simply refuted by claiming that anecdotal evidence and his personal sense of other people’s feelings, contradict the findings. This would not be an issue if Murray had maintained a parity of healthy suspicion for all the surveys and opinion polls he presented. But there is not even an attempt to do so. Any serious reader ought to ask themselves what this says about the author’s criteria for selection of data.

    Of course he rolls out the usual imprecision of language one expects to find in a polemic of this kind. Economic migrants, terrrorists, Muslims, Jihadists, Islamists, refugees, third world; are all rolled into one. The West, Western Europe, Europe, White, White British, Christian; are all synonymous. This nebulous use of words, means they are twisted and turned to whatever his opinion requires them to mean.

    Murray repeatedly courts conspiracies (and the concomitant irrationality and victimhood that goes with them) but clearly his reputation is too precious to fully engage by following through, but it is enough that he has sown the seeds of conspiracy in the reader:

    For example:

    “For if this is even partially a spur for the recent transformation of our country, then what we are going through is not an accident, or a mere laxness at the borders, but a cool and deliberate act of national sabotage.”

    Is this accusation of ‘national sabotage’ further explored or investigated? Certainly not. “Motivations aside…” he continues.

    What then, one might ask, was the purpose of this paragraph?

    Colonialism, apparently, was equivalent to: “Europeans going anywhere else in the world” (could the language be any more passive?). This summary statement, is a clear revision of history to suit his opinion that ‘white guilt’ is only felt by Europeans, or in the absence of any actual examples of guilt: Australians and Americans. Of course co-opting the language of white supremacists helps him to redefine ‘acknowledgement’ as ‘guilt’ and join up the history of European empires, with modern immigration policies.

    It’s something of an incredible achievement, that in a book of this type and length, barely a single word is uttered on the effects of foreign policy, state sponsored terrorism, economic disadvantage, or military intervention and adventurism. These omissions make sense of Murray’s view and explain his use of the word ‘strange’ in the title. History started in 1945 and the policies of the modern world have happened in a vacuum, according to Murray – so of course it seems strange. That sense of being the victim in all of this, really has to be driven home.

    It is perhaps on identity that Murray is most confusing. He seems to subscribe to an ideology of: “One identity at a time please”. This one identity that you are allowed allows a narrow range of values to be attached to a human being. Most of all, this identity, must be pre-determined by the location of an ancestors’ birth and pre-approved by Murray’s worldview. Why else would he refer to ethnicity and particularly being ‘White British’ as a guarantor of ones values?

    If Murray is right and the political class of Europe have indeed conspired to destroy the public by importing masses of culturally and ethnically divergent people, as he contends; then he has left unanswered the first question, one should ask when suspicious of another’s motives:

    Cui Bono? To the benefit of whom?

    And if the public of Europe really have opposed immigration from the outset as he claims, then why have they continued to elect representatives from the parties who have sponsored it? Are the votaries of Europe really the vapid dunces that Douglas Murray’s conclusion implies they must be, in taking a full six decades to wake up to what he and his flag wavers have known all along?

    Or perhaps, he has missed something

    Want to read it again from this perspective in mind?

  32. Robert REYNOLDS

    Well Matters Not, I will at least say this for you, you do admit not having read Douglas Murray’s book at the outset of your post.

    You then proceed to quote from a review that ‘resonates’ with you.

    The author of this rather hysterical ‘review’ seems to expect that Douglas Murray should have referenced every line that he wrote. I feel the Murray did an excellent job with his referencing. While reading the book I did take the time to check a number of the references. I found that all were quite legitimate.

    The author of this review also seems to try to convey the impression that Murray’s claims about the effect that Islam is having on Europe, are made in isolation and that they are not supported by or consistent with what many other observers and commentators are saying.

    After a (short) while this ‘review’ becomes little more than a meandering diatribe against a well-argued and reasoned and highly valuable literary piece.

    It is interesting that while the reviewer fails abysmally to refute any claim made by Douglas Murray, the reviewer nevertheless does concede,

    “However, much of what he has written IS true and no sensible person would try to deny it.”

    This person then goes on to say,

    “It is the disingenuous and quite unnecessary presentation of untruths, omissions and misrepresentations, to bolster his position, that is increasingly frustrating as the reader progresses through the book.”

    What were all these “untruths, omissions and misrepresentations,” that Murray used to “bolster his position”? Well Matters Not, your intrepid reviewer provides us with not a shred of detail to support this claim.

    This ‘review’ Matters Not is an embarrassment. If I do get the chance to read “The Strange Death of Europe” again (and I do want to do that, time permitting) I can assure you that I will have this ‘reviewer’s “perspective” in mind.

    My advice to you Matters Not is not to read the book as I doubt that you possess the cerebral wherewithal to process the information contained in it. First things first, for you Matters Not and that would involve removing the blinkers that so restrict your view of the world and what is occurring in it.

  33. peter mccarthy

    Gee Zathras. I knew that was going to depress me.

    Folks, it’s worth a quick read of the link provided by Z.

    And just a quick point about castration, that ignores the main cause which I judge to be Power.

    Unrestricted power seems to lie beneath the corruption and we can see that in other Faiths (and institutions for that matter).

  34. peter mccarthy

    mick loughlin. I see a couple of issues with your contribution. Firstly, the broad brush you have applied to the priesthood. There will certainly be some who are struggling with their behavior. As there are some who struggle with their belief in God. What it comes down to is the numbers and the support services offered to Priests. Interestingly, the Catholic Church claims all their Priests believe in God, but the Anglicans have a more credible claim of about 5% having lost their Faith. With the shocking track record of Abuse, I can’t help thinking the Catholic Church would be seriously higher.

    But a more serious point is the claim of this being a “total distraction”. What we have here is a serious lever for bringing the Church to account that we should not lazily ignore. Every attempt to address the Abuse issues has been blown off by the Church from way back when their religion started to become popular. The number of times I have heard the claim the Catholic Church is too big to control is uncountable and I believe the Church likes to throw that claim around as well to weaken our resolve.

    The level of outrage has grown markedly, the arrogance of Hart has grown too, and pollies are starting to realise that the safety net of claiming religious belief can be a negative in their campaign. This is a rare opportunity to get real action and to force accountability on institutions that have had a free pass on morality.

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