Showing posts with label Australia-Vatican relations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia-Vatican relations. Show all posts

Sunday, 6 March 2016

An Instance Of Failure To Contact Civil Authorities In Relation To Allegations Of Child Sexual Abuse In Ballarat, Victoria

The subject of child sexual abuse is always distressing and nevermore so than during the four days in February-March 2016 when Cardinal Prefect George Pell gave evidence from Rome to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Below is a brief background of one of the convicted paedophiles, excerpts from Cardinal Pell's evidence with regard to this former Christian Brother and the Vatican response to the evidence.

This is not the only recorded instance where Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Church failed to contact civil authorities after it was discovered that schoolchildren were being sexually abused.

BACKGROUND - Edward Vernon "Ted" Dowlan

The Age, 9 February 2015:

A former Christian Brother who was part of a notorious paedophile ring involving the clergy should be returned to jail for a "significant" period of time, a court has heard.

Ted Dowlan found himself in a Melbourne courtroom this month, nearly 20 years since his first appearance in a dock, after more of his victims came forward during the state's parliamentary inquiry into child sex abuse last year.  

Dowlan, who changed his name by deed poll to Bales in 2011, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of indecently assaulting boys under the age of 16 and one count of gross indecency between 1971 and 1986 involving 20 victims……

Dowlan, 65, was teaching at Ballarat's St Alpius primary school in 1971 with other convicted paedophile brothers including Robert Best, Stephen Farrell and Gerald Fitzgerald. Gerald Ridsdale, who is regarded as one of Australia's worst paedophile priests, was the school's chaplain.

Dowlan admitted abusing boys at St Alpius in 1971; St Thomas More College in Forest Hills (1972); St Patrick's College in Ballarat (1973-74); Warrnambool Christian Brothers College (1975-76); Chanel College, Geelong (1980); and Cathedral College, East Melbourne (1982-1988).

Mr Sonnet said the Christian Brothers were aware of what Dowlan was doing and failed to act to stop him, instead moving him from school to school, which only "aggravated the problem".

Dowlan was eventually sentenced in 1996 to six and a half years jail for abusing 11 boys between 1971 and 1982.

He was not thrown out of the Christian Brothers order until 2008……

DPP v Bales [2015] VSCA 261, Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal, 18 September 2015, extension of the six year sentence imposed on 27 March 2015:

60 When added to the sentence imposed in respect of the first set of offences, the total term of imprisonment is 14 years and 11 months, with a non-parole period of 9 years and 8 months. In our opinion, bearing in mind the mitigating factors referred to, this is a proportionate sentence for 50 offences committed over about 15 years against 31 young boys who were entitled to expect that their teacher and religious instructor would not dishonour his position of trust towards them in the way he did.

Family And Community Development Committee, Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations, Melbourne 3 May 2013:

As Mr O’Brien highlighted on Monday in his question relating to another witness, he said: The principal and grade 6 teacher was convicted paedophile Christian Brother Robert Charles Best. The grade 5 teacher was convicted paedophile Christian Brother Stephen Francis Farrell. The grade 5 teacher in 1971, before Farrell, was convicted paedophile Christian Brother Edward Vernon Dowlan. The grade 3 teacher was alleged paedophile Christian Brother Fitzgerald, who passed away before any charges were laid. The St Alipius Primary School chaplain and assistant Catholic priest was convicted paedophile Gerald Francis Ridsdale.

So it is evident that in the 1970s, when these men were teaching at St Alipius in Ballarat, there were paedophiles that were engaged in the abuse of children and, as I said, the chaplain attached was also a paedophile. It appears that the only person who was working at that time who did not offend against children was the sole female lay teacher……

Excerpts from evidence given by Cardinal-Prefect George Pell on Day 159Day 161 and [sic] Day 163 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:

Q. Some of the Brothers who were at the school when you were assistant priest, Brother Dowlan?
A. Yes, I remember Dowlan, not –
Q. I beg your pardon, I'm sorry, Cardinal; you remember Dowlan but?
A. But not well. Not extensively, but I certainly knew him…..

Q. When did you first hear of Christian Brothers in Ballarat offending against children?
A. That's a very good question. Perhaps in the early 1970s I heard things about Dowlan.
Q. What did you hear about Dowlan?
A. I heard that there were problems at St Pat's College.
Q. What sort of problems?
A. Unspecified, but harsh discipline and possibly other infractions also.
Q. When you say "possibly other infractions", you mean of a sexual nature?
A. I do.
Q. Who did you hear that from?
A. Once again, it's difficult to recall accurately. I could have heard it from one or two of the students and certainly I think one or two of the priests mentioned that there were problems and some of them believed they were very - because of harsh discipline.
Q. And the problems described to you were problems of a sexual kind with children?
A. None of the activities were described to me, they were just referred to briefly.
Q. But you answered the question of, "When you say possibly other infractions, you mean of a sexual nature?", you agreed with that proposition?
A. Yes, that was a - that's correct.
Q. And it could only have been sexual with children, couldn't it?
A. That's correct, with minors.
Q. When you heard about those problems, did you do anything with that information?
A. It was, they were - it was unspecific, but in fact I did; I mentioned to the school chaplain, a priest whom I greatly respected, I said, "There is talk about problems at St Pat's College with Dowlan", and I said, "Is there any truth in them?" He said, "Yes, there are problems, certainly discipline problems, but I think the Brothers have got the matter in hand". And in fact, he left at the end of 1974…..

Q. Did you hear about what happened to Dowlan, if anything, after those people you've described came to you?
A. I heard he had left, I had no recollection of where he went until I started to prepare for this.
Q. Was it your understanding that he left not long after those problems had emerged?
A. That is my understanding, and I think that is what in fact happened, I think.
Q. Did you draw the conclusion that he left because of the allegations of sexual impropriety with minors?
A. Yes, I didn't know the nature of those, whether they were indiscretions or crimes.
Q. Did his leaving say anything to you about the likelihood those allegations were true?
A. Well, I certainly concluded there must have been - he must have been, at the very minimum, unwise and imprudent, at the very minimum…..

Q. Who spoke to you about Dowlan?
A. It was a St Pat's boy.
Q. Just one?
A. A fellow at the school. Yes, one that I remember.
Q. So there might have been more than one, but you particularly remember that one?
A. I remember one in particular.
Q. Do you remember his name? I'm not asking you to say it at the moment, but do you remember his name?
A. Yes, I do, and he recollected it years later, but I remembered him as a good and honest lad and I didn't think he'd be telling - I couldn't remember the actual incident, but I didn't think he'd be telling lies….

Q. Did you understand that the allegations that you indicated were told to you were admitted or otherwise by Brother Dowlan?
A. No, I didn't know what his response was other than eventually the effect.
Q. The effect being that he was moved?
A. Correct.
Q. And did you know whether that was to another - I'm sorry, Cardinal?
A. I - I would say that in the light of my present 39 understandings, although - I would concede I should have done more.
Q. What do you now say you should have done?
A. Well, I should have consulted Brother Nangle and just ensured that the matter was properly treated.
Q. Can you tell us why you didn't do that?
A. Because, one, I didn't think of it and, when I was told that they were dealing with it, at that time I was quite content……

Q. Did you tell the Bishop?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Can you tell us why you didn't tell the Bishop about this issue?
A. Firstly, because it came under the control of the 8 Christian Brothers and I was told that they were dealing with it.
Q. You were the Bishop's representative in relation to education, weren't you?
A. I - I was. 
Q. But you say that, even in that role, you didn't feel any necessity or responsibility to tell the Bishop about this problem?
A. No, I - I didn't. I - I certainly would not have presumed that he definitely would not have known, but anyhow, I didn't. I regret that I didn't do more at that stage……

Q. And you said in your evidence, transcript page 16241: He -- Being the boy who complained to you -- recollected it years later, but I remembered him as a good and honest lad and I didn't think he'd be telling - I couldn't remember the actual incident, but I didn't think he'd be telling lies . Do you mean to say by that that you didn't have a recollection about it until he told you?
A. I didn't have a recollection of him speaking to me very briefly and fleetingly about an accusation about Dowlan.
 Q. When did this boy come to you and complain to you about Dowlan?
A. He never came to me and complained. We happened to be together and he just mentioned it in passing.
Q. When did he come to tell you about this complaint? When did you come to know that this complaint had been made, or these conversations –
A. He just mentioned it casually in conversation. He never asked me to do anything. It wasn't technically - well, I suppose it was technically a complaint, a lament, but entirely different from this alleged event, of which I had no part…..

THE CHAIR: Q. Cardinal, what did that boy say to you?
A. He - he said something like, "Dowlan is misbehaving with - with boys."
Q. That was a very serious matter to be raised with you, wasn't it?
A. Yes, in - that is - that is the case.
Q. What did you do about it?
A. I - I didn't do anything about it.
Q. Should you have done something about it?
A. Well, I eventually did. I eventually inquired of the school chaplain.
Q. What about at the time you received the allegation from the boy, didn't it occur to you --
A. It would have been fairly close together.
Q. Well, you didn't go straight to the school and say, "I've got this allegation, what's going on?"
A. No, I didn't.
Q. Should you have?
A. With the experience of 40 years later, certainly I would agree that I should have - should have done more.
Q. Why do you need the experience of 40 years later? Wasn't it a serious matter then?
A. Yes, but people had a different attitude then. There were no specifics about the activity, how serious it was, and the boy wasn't asking me to do anything about it, but just lamenting and mentioning it.
Q. Cardinal, you and I –
A. It was quite unspecific.
Q. Cardinal, you and I have had this discussion on more than one occasion. Why was it necessary for people to ask you to do something, rather than for you to accept the information and initiate your own response?
A. Obviously, that - that is not - not the case, and my responsibilities as an Auxiliary Bishop and the director of an educational institute, an Archbishop, obviously I was more aware of those obligations in those situations than I was as a young cleric, but I don't - I don't - I don't excuse my comparative lack of activity, the fact that I only went to the school chaplain and inquired what was the truth of these rumours……

Q. And as late as last week, the headmaster at 5 St Patrick's College in 1973/74, Brother Nangle, denied any knowledge or denied having received any complaint or knowing of any rumours associated with alleged molestation or sexual offences against children by Dowlan. Are you aware of that?
A. I - I haven't studied the evidence in detail, but I am aware of that.
Q. And he was interviewed by a number of officers from the insurance companies, he was interviewed by police officers and by lawyers all the way until 2004 and, again, in every single instance he denied having any knowledge, denied having received any complaint about Dowlan's molestation of children; do you understand that?
A. I - yes.
Q. So why on earth, Cardinal, didn't you take the information that you had about the complaint that had been made to you by this St Patrick's school boy in 1973 to the police, to the investigators, to the insurance companies or to the Christian Brothers themselves? Why do we hear about it this week for the first time?
A. That is because I had no idea that the Christian Brothers were covering up in the way in which it's now apparent, and I did - as I repeat again, I mentioned it to the principal and he said the matter was being looked after, and I presumed that it was being looked after appropriately, not just denied. 
Q. You had essential –
A. And this man –
Q. You had –
A. I'm sorry, the only other thing.
Q. Go ahead.
A. May I just say, by way of completion, and also I was aware that at the end of that year Dowlan was shifted. Now, in the light of subsequent events, that was radically insufficient, but at that time that was regarded - given the unspecified nature of the accusations, I thought that was - well, that was something that was fair enough.
Q. Well, Dowlan went on to sexually abuse children in a teaching capacity all the way through to 1985 - dozens of them. Do you understand that?
A. I do.
Q. You could have done something which would have put a stop to that, potentially, couldn't you?  
A. No, with due respect, I think that's a vast overstatement. I did take the opportunity to ascertain the reliability of the rumours. I was told that there was something in them and that it was being dealt with…..

During the course of those four days of video links between Rome and Sydney, the Royal Commissioner appeared at times sceptical of George Pell’s frequent memory loss and constant denials of responsibility, Counsel Assisting often found his answers implausible and aimed at deflecting blame, a lawyer for one victim suggested that Pell was lying under oath to protect his own reputation and, victims who were in Rome to witness the cardinal giving evidence were not impressed.

So it came as no surprise to find the Vatican rushing to defend Pell and its own response to the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic school system:

Vatican City, 4 March 2016 – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., today issued the following note regarding the protection of minors from sexual abuse:
"The depositions of Cardinal Pell before the Royal Commission as part of its inquiry carried out by live connection between Australia and Rome, and the contemporary presentation of the Oscar award for best film to 'Spotlight', on the role of the Boston Globe in denouncing the cover-up of crimes by numerous paedophile priests in Boston (especially during the years 1960 to 1980) have been accompanied by a new wave of attention from the media and public opinion on the dramatic issue of sexual abuse of minors, especially by members of the clergy.
The sensationalist presentation of these two events has ensured that, for a significant part of the public, especially those who are least informed or have a short memory, it is thought that the Church has done nothing, or very little, to respond to these terrible problems, and that it is necessary to start anew. Objective consideration shows that this is not the case. The previous archbishop of Boston resigned in 2002 following the events considered in “Spotlight” (and after a famous meeting of American cardinals convoked in Rome by Pope John Paul II in April 2002), and since 2003 (that is, for 13 years) the archdiocese has been governed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, universally known for his rigour and wisdom in confronting the issue of sexual abuse, to the extent of being appointed by the Pope as one of his advisers and as president of the Commission instituted by the Holy Father for the protection of minors.
The tragic events of sexual abuse in Australia, too, have been the subject of inquiries and legal and canonical procedures for many years. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Sydney for World Youth Day in 2008 (eight years ago), he met with a small group of victims at the seat of the archdiocese governed by Cardinal Pell, since the issue was also of great importance at the time and the archbishop considered a meeting of this type to be very timely.
Merely to offer an idea of the attention with which these problems have been followed, the section of the Vatican website dedicated to 'Abuse of minors: the Church’s response', established around ten years ago, contains over 60 documents and interventions.
The courageous commitment of the Popes to facing the crises that subsequently emerged in various situations and countries – such as the United States, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Holland, and in the Legionaries of Christ – has been neither limited nor indifferent. The universal procedures and canonical norms have been renewed; guidelines have been required and drawn up by the Episcopal Conferences, not only to respond to abuses committed but also to ensure adequate prevention measures; apostolic visitations have taken place to intervene in the most serious situations; and the Congregation of the Legionaries has been radically reformed. These are all actions intended to respond fully and with far-sightedness to a wound that has manifested itself with surprising and devastating gravity, especially in certain regions and certain periods. Benedict XVI’s Letter to the Irish faithful in March 2010 probably remains the most eloquent document of reference, relevant beyond Ireland, for understanding the attitude and the legal, pastoral and spiritual response of the Popes to these upheavals in the Church in our time; recognition of the grave errors committed and a request for forgiveness, priority action and justice for victims, conversion and purification, commitment to prevention and renewed human and spiritual formation.
The encounters held by Benedict XVI and Francis with groups of victims have accompanied this by now long road with the example of listening, the request for forgiveness, consolation and the direct involvement of the Popes.
In many countries the results of this commitment to renewal are comforting; cases of abuse have become very rare and therefore the majority of those considered nowadays and which continue to come to light belong to a relatively distant past of several decades ago. In other countries, usually due to very different cultural contexts that are still characterised by silence, much remains to be done and there is no lack of resistance and difficulties, but the road to follow has become clearer.
The constitution of the Commission for the protection of minors announced by Pope Francis in December 2013, made up of members from every continent, indicates how the path of the Catholic Church has matured. After establishing and developing internally a decisive response to the problems of sexual abuse of minors (by priests or other ecclesial workers), it is necessary to face systematically the problem of how to respond not only to the problem in every part of the Church, but also more broadly how to help the society in which the Church lives to face the problems of abuse of minors, given that – as we should all be aware, even though there is still a significant reluctance to admit this – in every part of the world the overwhelming majority of cases of abuse take place not in ecclesiastical contexts, but rather outside them (in Asia, for instance, tens of millions of minors are abused, certainly not in a Catholic context).
In summary, the Church, wounded and humiliated by the wound of abuse, intends to react not only to heal herself, but also to make her difficult experience in this field available to others, to enrich her educational and pastoral service to society as a whole, which generally still has a long path to take to realise the seriousness of these problems and to deal with them.
From this perspective the events in Rome of the last few days may be interpreted in a positive light. Cardinal Pell must be accorded the appropriate acknowledgement for his dignified and coherent personal testimony (twenty hours of dialogue with the Royal Commission), from which yet again there emerges an objective and lucid picture of the errors committed in many ecclesial environments (this time in Australia) during the past decades. This is certainly useful with a view to a common 'purification of memory'. {my red bolding}
Recognition is also due to many members of the group of victims who came from Australia for demonstrating their willingness to establish constructive dialogue with Cardinal Pell and with the representative of the Commission for the protection of minors, Fr. Hans Zollner S.J., of the Pontifical Gregorian University, with whom they further developed prospects for effective commitment to the prevention of abuse.
If the appeals subsequent to 'Spotlight' and the mobilisation of victims and organisations on the occasion of the depositions of Cardinal Pell are able to contribute to supporting and intensifying the long march in the battle against abuse of minors in the universal Catholic Church and in today’s world (where the dimensions of these tragedies are endless), then they are welcome.


Vatican on the Purification Of Memory:

Liberation from the weight of this responsibility comes above all through imploring God’s forgiveness for the wrongs of the past, and then, where appropriate, through the “purification of memory” culminating in a mutual pardoning of sins and offenses in the present.
Purifying the memory means eliminating from personal and collective conscience all forms of resentment or violence left by the inheritance of the past, on the basis of a new and rigorous historical-theological judgement, which becomes the foundation for a renewed moral way of acting. This occurs whenever it becomes possible to attribute to past historical deeds a different quality, having a new and different effect on the present, in view of progress in reconciliation in truth, justice, and charity among human beings…..

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Quotes of the Week

Ms Furness assisting the Royal Commission: And human beings talk among themselves about their colleagues, don't they, Cardinal?
Cardinal-Prefect George Pell: Human beings in different categories have very different approaches to these matters. We work within a framework of Christian moral teaching. {Loud burst of laughter from people in Rome interview room} Pardon?
Ms.Furness: And what does that mean –
Cardinal Pell: Would you like me to continue?
Ms.Furness: I would, indeed.
[Based on Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Day 160 transcript of hearing webcast, 1 March 2016]

I share the dismay and disgust of a great many people, Catholics and others, with the Cardinal’s display…..
It’s made plain to the world who he is and what he’s like…..
I’ve known Cardinal Pell for over 30 years and I really think he is one of the best developed narcissists I’ve met in my life…..
astonishing the way he can deploy his insensitivity, he seems impervious to human experience…..
a big man and a big bully…..
[Father Michael Kelly SJ702ABCSydney interview on the subject of Cardinal Prefect George Pell’s evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 3 March 2016]

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Just because Australia's Attorney-General doesn't like the lyrics.....

It appears that Australian Attorney-General, Senator George Henry Brandis QC, is upset by certain topical lyrics written by singer-songwriter Tim Minchin.

I felt it only right that I upset that rather pompous alumnus of the private Catholic Villanova College even more by posting Tim’s lyrics here.


[Verse 1]
It's a lovely day in 
I'm kicking back, thinking of you
I hear that you've been poorly
I am sorry that you're feeling blue

I know what it's like when you feel a little shitty
You just want to 
curl up and have an itty-bitty doona day
But a lot of people here really miss ya, Georgie
They really think you oughta just get on a plane
(Just get on a plane)
We all just want you to...

[Chorus 1]
Come home, Cardinal Pell
I know you're not feeling well
And being crook ain't much fun
Even so, we think you should come

Home, Cardinal Pell 
Come down from your citadel
It's just the right thing to do
We have a right to know what you knew

[Verse 2] 
Couldn't you see what was under your nose, Georgie
Back in '73 when you were living with Gerry?
Is it true that you knew but you chose to ignore
Or did you actively try to keep it buried?

And years later, when survivors, despite their shame and their fear
Stood up to tell their stories, 
you spent year after year
Working hard to protect the church's assets

I mean, with all due respect, dude, I think you're scum!
And I reckon you should...

[Chorus 2]
Come home, Cardinal Pell
(Cardinal Pell)
I know you're not feeling well
Perhaps you just need some sun
It's lovely here, you should come

Home, you pompous buffoon
(Pompous buffoon)
And I suggest do it soon
I hear the tolling of the bell
And it has a Pellian knell

I want to be transparent here, George, I'm not the greatest fan of your religion
I personally believe that those who cover up abuse should go to prison
But your ethical hypocrisy, your intellectual 
vacuity, and your arrogance don't bother me as much
As the fact that you have turned out to be such a goddamn coward

You're a coward, Georgie
(You're a coward, George) 
Come and face the music, Georgie
(Face the music, George)
You owe it to the victims, Georgie
(You owe it, George)
Come and face the music, the music 
Hallelujah, hallelujah
If the Lord God omnipotent reigneth

He would take one look at you and say:
(One look at you and say)

[Chorus 3]
"Go home, Cardinal Pell
I've got a nice spot in hell
With your name on it and so
I suggest you toughen up and go

"Home, Cardinal Pell
I'm sure they'll make you feel wel-
Come at the pub in Ballarat
They just want a beer and a chat"

Come home, Cardinal Pell
(Cardinal Pell)
I know you're scared, Georgie-Poo
(Come home)
They have a right to know what you knew

Your time is running out to atone, Georgie
I think the Lord is calling ya home, Georgie
Perhaps he could forgive even you
If you just let them know what you knew

Oh, Cardinal Pell
My lawyer just rang me to tell
Me this song
Could get me in legal trouble

Oh well, Cardinal Pell
If you don't feel compelled
To come home by
A sense of moral duty
Perhaps you will come home and frickin' sue me

Readers will note there in one "shitty", a single "goddamn" and a lone "frickin" - terms which would barely register on the offensive expletives scale.

Which makes this The Guardian headline on 12 February 2016 above an article by Monica Tan, Tim Minchin asks George Pell to 'come home' in expletive-filled new song, all the more puzzling.

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.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Are Cardinal George Pell & the Vatican flipping the bird at Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?

Is Cardinal George Pell really so ill he genuinely cannot travel? Or is it a smoke screen allowing him to hide from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse?

Only his doctors would know with any certainty, because his very active life in Rome gives no indication.

What Pell and the Vatican are saying.....

The Guardian, 28 January 2016:

Australia’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, is still too unwell to fly and will address a philanthropic Catholic organisation in the US on Thursday via video link from Rome.

It comes days before Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse is due to hear from Pell’s lawyers about whether he will be well enough to appear in person before the commission in February, when hearings are due to continue in Ballarat.

Pell angered Australian child sexual abuse victims in December when he cancelled his flight to Melbourne days before he was due to appear before the commission. The Vatican said Pell was too ill to travel although his specific medical condition was not disclosed.

A directions hearing will be held by the royal commission in Sydney on Friday 5 February to hear whether Pell will appear in person when hearings resume.

What the world is seeing.....

Cardinal George Pell, front row, centre left, Monday 18 January 2016

Cardinal Pell celebrated official Rome Forum mass in the afternoon of Sunday 17 January 2016.
He also gave a 10-page (3,713 words) Keynote Address at an official forum dinner in evening of 17 January.

The Guardian, 5 February 2016:

The cardinal won’t be coming. It’s his heart. A fresh medical report from Rome says it would be “difficult” for Cardinal George Pell to take the long flight home to give further evidence to the royal commission into the institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
“It doesn’t preclude his travel,” observed the commissioner Peter McClellan. “It doesn’t say he can’t come.” But McClellan has accepted the verdict of Pell’s medicos that a journey home at this time might have “serious consequences” for His Eminence’s health.
It’s an unhappy outcome all round. McClellan wants him to give evidence in person. Abuse victims are keen to confront the man in the flesh. And the cardinal, it seems, may never walk the streets of his native Ballarat again.
Just how sick he is remains a mystery. Pell is keen to keep the finer details of his heart problems secret.
His counsel, Alan Myers QC, argued against releasing the medical reports in full: “All it would do is provoke some sort of debate in the press about the medical condition of Cardinal Pell. There is no public interest in that.”
Under strict secrecy, McClellan allowed four barristers to read the latest report. Unimpressed was Paul O’Dwyer SC who told the commission the two-page document revealed “common or garden problems in a man of the cardinal’s age”.