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the australian regrets

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Mar 16, 2007

Ouch. The Tablet reports that Australia's newest archbishop submitted to a national newspaper a book review (to make matters worse, a review of Dawkins' The God Delusion) that contained passages apparently pinched from the LRB:

Embarrassing similarities have been found between an article written by an archbishop and a book review in a British fortnightly literary magazine, prompting the newspaper that published the archbishop's article to issue an apology, writes Mark Brolly.

The Australian newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch, published the following brief notice on 27 February: "On Saturday February 24, The Weekend Australian published a review by Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion.

"It has since been discovered that the archbishop's review contained some similar content to a review of Dawkins' book by Terry Eagleton published in The London Review of Books in October. The Australian regrets that this occurred.'

Archbishop Coleridge, who worked in the Vatican's Secretariat of State and was an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne before becoming Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn last year, was unavailable for comment.

For a look at the near-misses -- in which most schoolteachers, I think, would detect culpable pilferage -- go here.

The most obvious explanations are two: first, that Coleridge plagiarized; alternatively, that he farmed out the job to some understudy who plagiarized, and Coleridge submitted the review innocent of the borrowing but under his own name. The latter explanation doesn't add lustre to the archbishop's reputation as a man of letters, but it may fall within the permissible range of "official" authorship generally understood to be staff-written -- in roughly the same category as the op-eds that senators publish in the New York Times. In either case, it's important that The Australian found the similarities awkward enough to apologize for.

We're told Coleridge was unavailable for comment. He'd better make himself available, and soon -- that is, if he wants to regain the credibility to teach, in public, as an archbishop. If he tells the truth early on, there'll be a week or two of unwelcome media sarcasm at his expense and it'll be behind him. If he doesn't, he's facing a long, long career as a paperweight. And it'll be his flock, not he, who pays the greater cost.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 17, 2007 2:07 PM ET USA

    Unfortunately, Aussie, some of the good, conservative ones turn out to have problems, too. A lot of us admired Cardinal Law till we found out what had been going on in Boston. To be sure, his problems went far beyond a little plagiarism. I'd say your man's sin---if he did commit it---is pretty clearly venial, especially compared with that of the now Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 17, 2007 6:49 AM ET USA

    Archbishop Coleridge is a man of integrity, and more than that he is unashamedly Catholic. I am sure that there is a reasonable explaination and that he will let it be known soon. Just because he is an Australian Archbishop, he shouldn't be tarred with the same brush as Bathesby. I will suspend my cynicism on this occasion and give His Grace the benefit of the doubt.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 16, 2007 1:35 PM ET USA

    Diogenes' last paragraph is the most important, but my money is on his stonewalling. They never learn. They just never learn.

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