The NSW Catholic Bishops released a Lenten Pastoral Letter in response to the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, called “Sowing in Tears”. The letter itself is a fine example of authorship by committee and says all the kinds of things that one would expect such a letter to say. The opening paragraph begins: “Lent words are ‘re’ words:re-pent, re-turn, re-pair, re-new. All are called to repentance, not just the great sinners, because all are affected when any member is sinful or suffering. The Body of Christ is wounded.”
What I found more intriguing than the document itself, was the signature page – which says more about me then anything else! The first person to sign the document was, of course, Cardinal Pell, followed by the Auxiliary Bishops of Sydney (ranked by order of ordination seniority), then the other geographic dioceses are listed alphabetically, then the Maronite and Military Bishops, bringing up the rear, as it were. This ordering no doubt appeals to people who find hierarchy important. You could order the Bishops (and Administrator in the case of Canberra-Goulburn) in a range of ways, including simply alphabetically so that the Maronite Bishop Ad Abikaram would come first in this ordering, and Maitland-Newcastle’s Bill Wright last.
But I want to suggest another ordering: a ranking according to the elegance and sophistication of the signatures. Now, as a priest of the Diocese of Wollongong, perhaps I am biased towards the signature of my Bishop, Peter Ingham – but it is a lovely signature, that conveys so much of his warmth and personality:
Next, perhaps Anthony Fisher’s signature – which retains style and readability:
Although Julian Porteous’ signature doesn’t contain his full name, there is an energy about it that matches his zeal for evangelisation (but it loses marks for readability):
Of course, readability is not everything. Geoffrey Jarrett’s signature is very elegant – indeed beautiful – but it is very ordered and controlled, as is Gerard Hanna’s (although the G and H are both very nice):
You have the basic handwriting signatures:
Then you have the signatures that have style, but little by way of readability:
And finally you have the chicken scratches:
So, how would you rank them? Have I been too harsh or too kind to some…?