AN INDICTMENT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, RELIGION AND POLITICS
I am 84 years old and have been an atheist for practically all of my adult life. I was brought up by my Jewish family to be a good practising Jewish man, to believe in god and to be a good heterosexual husband and father.
Being young, naive, trusting and obedient, as an adolescent and a young adult I did as I was told by my mother who was doing her best to be both parents to me as my father died when I was three and I had a stepfather with whom I was not very close. My father had been a religious young Jew and an ardent zionist, but he died at the age of 31 in 1930 and it is difficult to know what his responses would have been to the excesses of the Jewish state he believed in becoming Israel and a terrorist police state.
My disillusionment with religion began when I was fairly young and has only intensified over the years when I have watched the excesses of all religions behaving contrary to what they all preach, and the death and destruction this has brought to the life and death of so many around the world.
When I came out as a gay man at the age of 61 I started discovering so many in the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities who had turned against their religions because they had been abused by religious people, by families, by employers, by those around them - and us - on a daily basis of homophobia and hate based often on the teachings of their religions.
During the five year period that I was a carer of people living with, and dying of AIDS I found many who had been thrown out of their homes by families because they were gay and because their families professed religion - mostly Catholics and Jews in my experience.
Many of these people had had nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to, and fortunately so many in the gay and lesbian communities had formed organisations to care for desperate people at their wits' and life's ends.
Although in my sixties and seventies, I learnt a great deal from the sufferings of these people and it had a profound and traumatic effect on me and my life for many years.
It is only in recent years that it has eased off somewhat, and I have become more peaceful in my later years due mainly to my partner of 18 years and my many caring and understanding friends.
Through one of these friends we were introduced into the life of Katie Foster who was being cared for on this particular day and brought Katie to our house - in a wheelchair - all the way from Oakleigh - quite an expedition to get to Preston from there on public transport. This would have been about 2007 or 2008 and from then on we continued to hear about the Foster family and what had happened to them to turn their lives upside down so that they were on a roller-coaster ride because of the Catholic church in their lives.
Our friend knew the Fosters through her own family who also lived in Oakleigh and had known them for years with their children attending the same Catholic church and schools.
When Chrissie Foster wrote the book with a journalist, Paul Kennedy, we received some of the early copies after it went on sale because our friend brought some to our house and gave us one. She then bought copies for people she knew and so did we.
At that stage we didn't know we were going to meet the Fosters, but our friend turned 60 and had a "mingling" for family and friends - she didn't want to call it a birthday party and amongst the friends were the Fosters.
My partner was nearly finished reading the book at that stage, and I was in the middle of a fairly long and comprehensive book of research called "The Invention of the Jewish People" - another book on religion and politics and the collision of it all due to the state of Israel and the lies and wars it has waged - in the name of the Jews - over the years since Israel was created in 1948.
I have just finished reading Chrissie's book after finishing the other one, and I found it devastating in its impact. What the Fosters have gone through and how they have suffered and come out fighting at the end of it is unbelievable in itself, but to meet them and talk to them and then be invited to their home to meet them and see Katie once again, this time in the loving and caring environment of her home made a lasting impression on us and it was one that will stay with me for a long time.
For a family to have suffered as they did due to the abuse of their two older daughters at the hands of their Catholic priest at the school the girls attended due to Chrissie's religious beliefs and her faith in her religion and to read and hear how it was all shattered as were their lives is to know what religion is capable of in all our lives.
Those responsible for this devastation in the lives of the Fosters and countless hundreds and thousands around the world are the Catholic church and its hierarchy from the fascist pope downwards, all other religions and the countries which house them and give them privileges which no other citizens are allowed - tax exemptions so that they can steal people's lives and incomes as they get richer and richer shows a collusion beyond comprehension.
Countries like Australia which give the Catholic church so much power and refuse to tax any part of it is in itself a criminal act, and the challenges which the Fosters faced in attacking the institutions which house us is as daunting as it is bravery of the first degree.
The Fosters may have won some compensation in their legal challenges to the Catholic church hierarchy, but it robbed them of their most precious possessions, the lives of two of their daughters.
There is hope that their youngest daughter, who escaped the sexual assaults perpetrated on her two older sisters will, in time, be able to live a comparatively normal life and achieve some measure of happiness.
The oldest daughter committed suicide and the middle daughter harmed herself and has ended up in a physically and mentally impaired state, but we actually saw a change for the better in her from when she visited us at our house some 3 years ago, and so there is some hope that as the years pass, she may regain some of her lost abilities, but for the parents, Chrissie and Anthony, their lives have been shattered forever, and one can only hope that also, over time, there may be some healing and some peace restored to all of them.