Principal says forgive Ferguson

PARENTS are calling for a Catholic school principal to resign after he encouraged people to forgive convicted paedophile Dennis Ferguson in the school’s newsletter.

But principal Dan McMahon, from Shalom College in Bundaberg, yesterday stood by the comments he penned in the newsletter, which was sent home to parents on Friday and is also available online.

In the message, Mr McMahon said forgiveness was a basis of Catholic teaching and should be applied to everyone, no matter how difficult.

But one parent, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions for her children who attend the school, said she was horrified when she read the principal’s message.

“I’ve had a five-year-old daughter grabbed by a filthy old man in a park and I’m sorry, but forgiveness really doesn’t come into the equation,” she said.

“I absolutely teach my kids forgiveness, but not that.

“I teach them that if they’re being abused speak up — and you do not forgive.”

Mr McMahon wrote the article after watching a recent ABC 4 Corners program about Dennis Ferguson.

The convicted paedophile spent 14 years in jail after abusing three children in a Brisbane motel room in 1987.

The woman, along with some other parents, said the man in the top job should step down from his position.

“I want the principal replaced,” she said.

“I’ve never seen anything like that written in a principal’s reflection.”

But Mr McMahon defended his message.

“From a Catholic and moral point of view, forgiveness is a basis of gospel teaching,” he said.

“For this man (Dennis Ferguson), the state also models it — when someone’s punished and they are released, the community has to work through that.”

The principal said his biggest motivation when writing the article was child safety.

“Focusing on Dennis Ferguson is ignoring the core of the problem, in that most cases of any child abuse occur by someone trusted by the family,” Mr McMahon said.

“Parents need to be vigilant and careful about the relationships their children develop in person and online.”

Mr McMahon said he was not condoning what Ferguson or any other paedophile had done.

“It’s an abominable crime,” the principal said.

But other parents have supported the principal and his message.

One mum said a lot of parents had taken the newsletter article out of context.

Another agreed with Mr McMahon’s message.

“(Mr McMahon) is living to basic Catholic teachings,” she said.

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