Sunday, 21 February 2016

Come down from your citadel Cardinal Pell and tell us what you knew

Vatican Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy Cardinal George Pell has always enjoyed due process in any Australian court case, state inquiry or royal commission concerning child sexual abuse at which he was a witness and, observation over time would lead an ordinary person to conclude that his various religious titles have afforded him what amounts to favoured treatment by both the police and legal profession.

Fair treatment was also afforded Pell in the 2002 internal Catholic Church inquiry into his past conduct as a seminarian in the early 1960s.

Given that barely a year after appearing before the Victorian Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Organisations Pell announced he was leaving Australia to reside permanently in the Vatican from 31 March 2014 and; after initial witness appearances on 24 & 26 March 2014 has now thrice refused to comeback to give evidence in person again at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (preferring to be questioned by video link on 21 August 2014 & this coming 29 February 2016); is it any wonder that in the face of his obvious sense of entitlement the mood has finally swung sharply against this man?

A new twist to Cardinal Pell's reluctance to return to Australia was revealed on the front page1 of the Herald Sun on 20 February 2016:

These allegations concerning Pell seem to spring from information received by Victoria Police's Sano Task Force:

The new allegations (which Cardinal Pell denies) are likely to compound the community response which finally spilled over four days earlier.........

This song is for the survivors
Tim Minchin

ABC News, 16 February 2016:

Ballarat survivors of sexual abuse plan to travel to Rome to hear Cardinal George Pell give evidence to the royal commission into child sex abuse, as a result of a crowdfunding campaign.
Cardinal Pell will remain in Rome after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse accepted a doctor's report that said he was too sick to return to testify in Australia.

Comedian Meshel Laurie and television presenter Gorgi Coghlan started a GoFundMe page to send 15 people, including representatives from the City of Ballarat, survivors and support people to Rome for the hearing.

The campaign exceeded its target of $55,000 after the fundraising page was shared more than 3,100 times on Facebook and Twitter.

At midnight on Tuesday it was nearing $75,000 at 2.17pm on Wednesday it was over $100,000, at 11.07am on Thursday it was over $175,000, at 8am on Friday it was nearing $189,000 at 4.36pm on Saturday it was $202,210, including an anonymous donation of $10,000.

The campaign aimed to raise the funds before the hearing on February 29 and says "the opportunity to face Cardinal Pell is the least our community can do for these brave people who have bared their souls to ensure the world is a safer place for all children".

Abuse survivors like Stephen Woods want Cardinal Pell to give evidence in an "open" place like the Australian embassy where they can watch.

"It has to be somewhere where he's not in control, his lawyers are not in control and that way he will actually be pushed to give better answers than the usual 'I can't remember'," he said.

"We want to see a candidness that we haven't seen before with Cardinal Pell.

"We want to see honesty. We want to see a veracity, transparency.

"That will be really good to see face to face." [my updates in red]

ABC News, 17 February 2016:

Former New South Wales Labor premier and Catholic Kristina Keneally said she laughed when she first heard the song, but on second listening was brought to tears.
"It spoke really deeply to the abject failure of the Catholic Church to deal with the child sexual abuse crisis," Ms Keneally said.
"I have yet to see from the Vatican the type of frank, honest, acknowledgement of the damage that it has done and the recognition of the things that need to change in the Catholic Church to ensure this never happens again."

Tim Minchin's song peaked at number one on the Australian iTunes songs chart on Wednesday 17 February and reached 825,569 YouTube video views by the following Saturday.


1. Apparently the Vatican, Cardinal Pell and senior clergy in Australia are more concerned with who leaked the latest sexual abuse allegations to the media rather than focusing on the possible suffering those allegations might represent. 
Having grown up in a predominately Catholic community, with one paedophile priest having free run of the local primary school and another frequently entertained in their homes by parents of young children, I understand the scale of such offending by men hiding behind the authority of black cassocks and birettas. 
In fact both these men appear to have gone to their graves unaccountable for their predatory behaviour and unremarked by the wider community. 
It is beyond belief that the Vatican still doesn't acknowledge the true historical scale of sexual abuse and fails to immediately request that named ordained priests (including cardinals) stand down pending the results of any such police investigations.

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