Family Matters

Family Matters

Monica Hingston this week outed her cousin, Cardinal George Pell, as dangerous.

Hingston, a former nun who has lived with her partner Peg Moran for 19 years, released a copy of a letter she sent to Pell demanding recognition of their sexuality and challenging Pell to denounce the homophobic declarations of the Vatican.

Hingston told The Sydney Morning Herald she did not intend to attack Pell personally and insisted he was kind and caring. She reiterated this view to Sydney Star Observer this week, but added some important qualifications and caveats.

If I look at it from another side he’s dangerous -¦ Hingston told the Star. He and cardinals like him who make the rules -¦ they are very dangerous in terms of increasing the prejudice and the ignorance and the discrimination and even violence against us.

Hingston submitted the letter for publication in The Sydney Morning Herald this week, having originally sent it to Pell in August. Pell did not respond to the original letter nor to Hingston’s phone calls. He responded instead to the SMH that he supports the church’s views on homosexuality which he said would not change. He said he wished his cousin well, though he continues to regret the path she has chosen.

So what did Monica Hingston and partner Peg Moran hope they might achieve in their opposition to the mandate of the Catholic Church?

Hingston said she held hopes, however slight, that in the face of papal doctrine, one man might be moved to make an emotional response.

Even to the extent of saying, -˜This is off the record. Look, Monica, I’m part of the main church and I have to follow the dictates -¦ but I know you to be a decent woman and have done certain things in your life that are basically Christian,’ Hingston said, but I couldn’t even get him to say that.

Hingston told the Star Pell had still not responded to her personally despite the publication of the letter. He had not responded despite Hingston’s achievements, which include 10 years of humanitarian work in the slums of Chile as a former Sister of Mercy. Peg Moran, also a former nun, spent 27 years in Chile.

Hingston’s letter to Pell was prompted by the August papal statement Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons, which called on civil authorities to oppose the legislation of evil and said homosexuality was disordered and depraved.

I wouldn’t even have bothered about this edict from Rome except for that bit where they’re dictating to Catholic politicians, Hingston said. So we have Tony Abbott out here, and John Howard who’s buddy pals with him, who’s not a Catholic but would think the same, and others I’m sure. They’re the ones that affect my life.

Rainbow Sash spokesperson Michael Kelly told the Star he saw Hingston’s letter as part of an international rejection of the Vatican’s stance, a protest which included an open letter sent by 23 Chicago priests in support of gay people last December.

Reading Monica’s letter I feel this is like a local manifestation of a growing outrage that’s bubbling below the surface in the church around the world against not just the Vatican’s treatment of gay people but its handling of sexual issues across the board, Kelly said.

With Monica speaking out, it offers a challenge and a witness to Catholic people in Australia and especially clergy who claim to be concerned about justice, to actually speak out and write publicly and talk to their bishops about the abuse the Vatican’s got away with for far too long, Kelly said.

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