The Catholic PR Unit – New Appointments (Or: Sugar, Spice and Anything Nice)


Image Source: Tandberg

The Catholic Church has announced new appointments to its Royal Commission Public Relations unit, the grandiosely-named Truth, Justice and Healing Council.

Previous postings have covered the Chairman, Johnny O’Keefe’s older brother, Barry, and the CEO, the aptly-named Francis Sullivan. The Council, which has yet to meet formally, is billed as an “independent” body, just like the “independent” Melbourne Response committee. Not only is it appointed and funded by the Catholic Church, it has many church officials on it

Firstly there is Mr. Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, formerly of Canberra. Then there is “Bishop Bill” Wright. This is the head of the Hunter district organisation currently under investigation by the NSW enquiry into clerical abuse cover-ups (see previous posting). Ms. Maree Marsh, the former Congregational Leader of the Brigidine Sisters and currently the Chair of ACRATH is a specialist concerning human trafficking in countries like Cambodia. Finally there is Mr Stephen Elder, Executive Director of the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne.

The education credentials of the council are augmented by the appointment of Mr. Greg Crafter, former South Australian State Minister of Education. Academia is well-represented in the form of three appointments. One is Ms. Maria Harries, from the University of Western Australia. Ms. Rosemary Sheehan, like Harris is a social worker, and is based at Monash University. Then, to balance things, there is Mr. Greg Craven, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University.

Finally there are a few miscellaneous appointments. Ms. Sue Gordon is a retired magistrate from Western Australia. Dr. Marian Sullivan is a psychiatrist from Queensland. Ms Elizabeth Proust is currently Chairman of the Bank of Melbourne and of Nestle Australia. The last appointment is Mr. Jack Heath, Chief Executive Officer of Sane Australia.

That gives at least half of the council as officials or direct employees of the Catholic Church. All of the others have, of course, significant professional or other links with the Catholic Church and will be examined in detail in future postings.

Readers will have noted that much attention has been given to this Catholic Church PR unit. This is because they are obviously going to constitute the Catholic Church’s main counter to the inevitable bad stories about to be revealed by the Royal Commission. The non-church appointees will serve the role usually taken by “expert witnesses” in normal court proceedings. The difference, naturally, is that they will appear in the Court of Public Opinion. People working towards a similar enquiry in other countries, will be able to learn a lot about the Catholic Church’s strategies from the composition and activities of this council.

Read more here:

TOMORROW: Catholic PR Committee member Proust

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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