I for one wonder why News.com would publish this story is beyond "the remarkable" as why would any celebrate Roman Catholic Priest in today's climate, ever consider giving a child a piggy back ride, is surprising in the extreme.
How safe can safe be when two Roman Catholic parishes in Victoria have banned piggyback rides adopting an ultra cautious approach to anything that might be described as inappropriate. This shouldn't even be on the agenda in the first place, it's asking for trouble to even raise the issue. It's as if the Catholic church is calling: "Look at me, look at me..."
Holly Ife writing for News.com recently wrote that Catholic clergy have been banned from giving children piggyback rides under child protection policies introduced by an outer Melbourne parish.
Ife explained that the guidelines apply to all priests, parish workers, staff and volunteers representing the church, including those at associated schools St Patrick's and St Brigid's Catholic primary schools. The policies were introduced after two allegedly abusive priests served in the district.
"High fives", pats on the shoulder or back, holding hands with small children, handshakes, and verbal praise are deemed appropriate. In addition, the new rules say any emails sent to minors should have parents or guardians copied in, and any phone calls should be made to the family home. Social networking is not considered an appropriate way for an adult to socialise with a child
Also on the banned list is inappropriate embraces, kisses on the lips, wrestling, holding minors over four on the lap, giving or receiving any type of massage, and tickling minors.
Bishop Les Tomlinson noted that although it is taking an ultra-cautious approach, it is partly about rebuilding confidence by making clear exactly what boundaries in which the clergy and church workers and volunteers will function.
Common sense would tell you this. But on reflection it might be to protect innocent clergy, innocent church workers, innocent volunteers and innocent good decent 'men' everywhere.
Recently, school boys on a school swimming day were required to ride home on the bus in wet togs as there was a complaint that men would not use the change room with the lads there.
Putting yourself at risk
Why would any decent family man want to put himself at risk of anything that might be deemed inappropriate. Young boys have been known to make up stories. Many women, with good reason, drum into their boys they must report anything that is suspicious.
But what might be deemed 'suspicious' by a lad may have simply been a passing nod or a smile by a man in the course of his comings and goings, only to find his life is turned upside down and ripped apart. It happens and in today's climate it may occur a lot more often.
Therefore, every man must be ultra cautious in any such situation. When near any situation - or any place - that might be even remotely deemed potentially dangerous - for their personal integrity - men should act very cautiously. Men should be in two's or three's or 'avoid whatever'.
This is now a serious legal and social issue for the nation. A man must be very careful. Anything could be so very easily construed. Men have a lot to lose - freedom, reputation, their marriage and family life.
The best defence any man faced with such situations are CTV cameras these are beginning to appear more as they are in the UK. I ask whether Australia is becoming a fear frenzied society fear of men, fear of the non-religious, fear of the religious, fear of the libertarians, fear of women, fear of children...where will it end?
I say that Jesus Christ's death on the Cross and His resurrection proved to be the great liberator of fear...but still men need to cautious and avoid situations that could very easily get misrepresented.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html