Abbott on Pell: “One of the greatest churchmen Australia has seen.”

4 Jul

When I saw Cardinal Pell on Qanda a couple of months ago, I felt a kind of  appalled pity for the man.

Pity, I hasten to add, is not an emotion I enjoy, based as it is in disinterested contempt, and complete lack of interest in its object’s fate. When I pity someone, they are pretty much dead to me.

Pell seemed subject to moments of confusion and rather bad judgement.

Then, in the ABC Four Corners report this past Monday on the sexual abuse of children by priests of his church, Pell again seemed quite out of his depth, and rigidly adhering to a well-worn script.

Pell clings to his belief in the word of three priests, even though there is very strong evidence to the contrary, including an admission in court by an accused rapist, Father F, that he did indeed perform some of the criminal acts of which he stands accused.

Pell was himself accused of sexually molesting a child,as is discussed here in an 2008 interview conducted by ABC journalist Ali Moore with former priest and now commentator Dr Paul Collins. Reading this 2008 interview I was struck by the similarities. Four years later, Cardinal Pell does not seem to have changed his perspective, in spite of more ghastly revelations about the behaviours of his priests, and the number of suicides thought to be related to sexual abuse.

I’m sometimes undecided as to who is the worst offender: the perpetrator or those who cover up for the perpetrator. I can only imagine the number of little kids whose lives would have been so different if the church authorities who knew about the pederasts in their ranks had taken proper action. Proper action in this instance is informing the police, however the Catholic church seems loathe to concede that sexually molesting a child is a crime, and treat it accordingly.

I note here that Cardinal Pell was very, very quick to threaten legal action against Catherine Deveney when he felt she had slandered him in a tweet. His reputation apparently warranted the protection of the law, unlike the lives of the children whose rape and molestation his church failed to report to the police.

As far as the mistreatment of children is concerned, I’m of the opinion that there are no innocent bystanders. Everyone who has anything to do with children professionally is required by law to report suspicions of abuse. This ought to include the Catholic church. When anyone knows something bad is happening to a child and keeps it quiet, she or he is enabling the perpetrators. The church takes that one step further and protects them as well.

It is my hope that like the US, it will be possible in this country to charge Catholic bishops and hold them criminally liable for the behaviours of the priests they supervise.

In the meantime I take my hat off to the ABC journalists who are persisting with this story, as well as other stories of child abuse. As a survivor, it does my heart good to know there are people willing to pursue these criminals and uncover their crimes. It is very difficult to speak about these things when you’ve endured them. We need others to help. We need others to confront and challenge those who would be innocent bystanders, and in their denial and silence, enable abuse to continue. I know it’s awful to have to listen to these things. But it is far, far worse to experience them.  Thank you to everyone with the courage to listen and care, and say so.

Finally, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is credited here with having described Cardinal George Pell as ” one of the greatest churchmen Australia has seen.” If this is a measure of Abbott’s ability to judge character, and an example of someone he profoundly admires, I fear even more for our future should he become the next Prime Minister.

Tony Abbott, trainee priest, St Patrick’s Seminary

59 Responses to “Abbott on Pell: “One of the greatest churchmen Australia has seen.””

  1. Hypocritophobe July 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Visiting readers should also go here (see below) to see some recently uploaded links etc.
    (Not sure which of the tags above goes directly there? Maybe all?)

    Or search;
    Well, Cardinal Pell?


  2. Hypocritophobe July 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Please see:
    (Particularly) all posts (and links) after 3 July 2012, at “Well, Cardinal Pell”, as they have pertinence to the article above.


  3. Marilyn July 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I blame my mother and everyone who knew I was being abused for not reporting it buy my special disgust is for her. She was supposed to protect me, she didn’t and to this day would not.

    I turned my own son in for doing it to my 4 year old grand daughter and they didn’t believe me until he did it again to another 4 year old.

    It must be genetic because he thought finger fucking 4 year olds was a game too.

    Pell is not worth a minute of pity, anymore than I felt one second of pity for Hollingworth after he claimed the 14 year old victim seduced her 30 year old rapist.


  4. paul walter July 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    It all reminds me of a book called “Three Cheers For the Paraclete”, a Thomas Kenneally novel about the internal moral decay of the church that we studied at high school, circa 1970; apparently a golden era for school camps and the like.
    The hero, Fr.Maitland, is the only “vocational” (caring) priest, yet becomes an outcast amongst his misanthropic, narrow minded or careerist fellows and the book ends with him leaving the church, deeply disillusioned.
    I thought of this after reading again of Paul Collins, the educated Jesuit interviewed at one of the links, who was eventually excommunicated from the church for advocating doctrinal and administrative reform within this redolent, geriatric,ossified relic.
    As for Pell, it’s ironic that he appears to have opposed reforms in the process of investigating abuses, a better system might have cleared him also, if he was innocent.
    He was a dull,shabby remnant of a man on 4 Corners, much as described above as to a recent QA.
    He gets not much sympathy from me; he has been a veritable lion in chasing down everyone else for their peccadilloes, involving everything from sex before marriage, thru gay sex, pr#n, adultery, contraception and termination of unwanted pregnancy.
    Yet the sexual antics deriving from within the Catholic and other churches indicate a laxness and perversity that makes a laughing stock of all the noisy exhortations to “self control” that emanates from church leaders, that everyone else is expected to conform rigorously to, even down to guilt for daydreaming.

    Was checking out certain other sites proclaiming to be crusaders against child exploitation, but these have been curiously remiss in getting up commentary on the 4 Corners episode.


    • Ray (novelactivist) July 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

      The Catholic Church has been corrupt since the beginning and they have been abusing children for ages. I’m enjoying watching ‘The Borgias’ which examines how corrupt the papacy had become.

      We need a full inquiry and the church should be made to pay. The abuse is extensive and we’ve only uncovered the tip of the iceberg.

      Btw, don’t let the scandals about sexual abuse distract anyone from the equally damaging, and more extensive, cases of physical and psychological abuse.


      • Marilyn July 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

        I loved the latest series with Jeremy Irons.


    • gerard oosterman July 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      Totally agree Paul. What a bag full of rotten antics and what a shallow dull man Pell is.I wonder what the ‘pr#n’ perceived sexual deviance is? Is it very bad?
      While all those men of the cloth claim that eternal hell will result from slapping the monkey, I rather stay friends with what comes naturally. ( my monkey)


    • hudsongodfrey July 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      G’Day Paul, no prizes for guess whose sites you check out then?


      • paul walter July 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

        As Urquhart says to Matty,in “House of Cards”,
        ” you may surmise as you will, I couldn’t possibly answer”.


  5. gerard oosterman July 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Pell seems to be Teflon coated to ward off empathy. In public he exudes an aura or unholy halo of total denial when it comes to exposure of the abuse amongst priests. It is only when irrefutable evidence is produced that he grudgingly admits to it.


  6. helvityni July 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    According to the article about Pell in SMH following happened at some churchy conference. Pell had his morning swim and after that asked a fellow conference member how old he thought Pell was. Pell obviously expected some flattering answer like, you don’t look a day over fifty. He did not look pleased when the other bloke guessed his age correctly. What does this say about this man of God.
    I can see Abbott doing the same….


  7. hudsongodfrey July 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    I don’t care practically at all for the fate of the churchmen but I very much do care for that of the victims. As I’ve written elsewhere, the Four Corners program revealed how closely some mirrored my own experience, leaving me deeply disturbed by it.

    The justice that is needed isn’t the compensation the church offers to save themselves further embarrassment and make the problem go away. It is instead the admission of guilt, a public accounting for their orchestrated cover up plus the help and compensation that their victims are owed as a result.

    This is the kind of justice simply not available through voluntary processes or out of court settlements. This time justice needs to be SEEN to be done. We need a Royal Commission.


  8. Hypocritophobe July 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Apparently…………Guilt can make a man look a lot older than he is……..


  9. hudsongodfrey July 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    Google Tim Minchin – Pope Song!

    It’s on YouTube, but it’s NSFW so I’ll not post the link.


  10. David Horton July 4, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    If puzzled about Pell and the hierarchy in general, I think the answer is that the structure invented to talk to their imaginary friend is far more important to them than mere child abuse. Their primary mission (ha) is to maintain the structure at any cost, otherwise their lives, and the lives of their predecessors, lose meaning.


    • hudsongodfrey July 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

      Agreed David, and I would have thought highly uncontroversial.

      The matter is however to get them to see that giving up the offenders in their midst serves the purpose of restoring their credibility.

      Of course that scenario only works if the offenders are as few as they claim and their credibility largely deserved. At the moment they are behaving as if they lack confidence in the veracity of either of those things.


  11. doug quixote July 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    I’m so torn – do we put Pell in gaol, or in the Vatican?

    An Australian Pope, or the highest profile Prisoner?

    Decisions decisions!


    • Hypocritophobe July 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      Would either scenario see him named Australia’s Greatest Loser?


  12. paul walter July 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    The thing that hit me between the eyes on a walk this arvo, another darkness, is found elsewhere.
    As the news reports explain, a cynicism equally to anything else discussed here is (again) the almost leering opinion apparently offered by the Opposition’s own mad monk, as to Pell’s quality as a churchman.
    If true, that IS arrogance, of the highest calibre.


    • Hypocritophobe July 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Maybe the ‘quality of a churchman’ is assigned to notches on belts?


      • Julia July 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

        Or he really does like playing secret confessions in the confessional closet?


        • hudsongodfrey July 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

          Shades of Dave Allen perhaps 🙂


          • Hypocritophobe July 5, 2012 at 12:13 am #



  13. Hypocritophobe July 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Still a smokescreen.Still not enough.

    And why does no ABC Journo have a name to this?
    And why can’t we comment on the Drum article by Paul Kennedy?
    And why are Roman Catholics investigating each other anyway?
    (In journalism and elsewhere)

    Royal Commission or High Court case,now.

    This will be yet another monumental failure by way of time wasting distraction.Again.


  14. doug quixote July 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    As regards Abbott’s judgement, it shouldn’t surprise us – he is on the wrong end of nearly every judgement call he has ever been called on to make.

    He is unfit for office – any office.


  15. Jude July 5, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    I’m a survivor of a convent primary school education. I was 7 when I realised that it was all a complete fabrication and chimaera designed to give some very nasty people power over others. I was regularly beaten for the next 5 years for refusal to conform to the prevailing idiocy until I escaped into the shelter of a secular government high school. I almost feel physically ill when Pell and his fellow travellers are in the media slipping and sliding their way through their obfuscations of the truth re abuse in the church. Tony Abbott is Pell’s bovver boy and I really fear for us all if he obtains power at the next election.


    • samjandwich July 5, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      I feel the same way Jude.

      One of the tragedies of what the church does to children is that, while even at 7 years of age kids are plenty intelligent enough to be able to think for themselves to the extent they can figure out that god doesn’t exist, they couldn’t (can’t??) escape the church’s power to make their lives miserable. I’m really sorry to hear about your situation.

      A couple of weeks ago my partner and I babysat a friend’s 7-year-old daughter, who has always lived in a functional and loving family, and who has a sharp wit and a sharp tongue, doesn’t do what you ask her and comes up with all kinds of creatively wacky excuses for not doing so, eats her mashed potato by scooping it up in her hands and slurping it up, is constantly testing boundaries and challenging the people around her. Basically it’s pretty hard work spending time with her – yer excitement and wonder at discovering the world and what she’s capable of being within it is such a joy to behold, and for me, thinking about this girl it just beggars belief on a really personal level that anyone would want to beat and suppress the autonomy out of her. Go and hang out with a 7 year old and you’ll see what I mean.

      When you contrast her situation with that of yours, or Jennifer’s or any number of kids who have been walked all over, it really brings home just how sick and dysfunctional and selfish and thoughtless a person, or a system, would have to be to perpetrate something like that… and then try to justify it to themselves. And as a country we are blindly walking towards imposing this attitude on ourselves. What’s going on??


      • samjandwich July 5, 2012 at 10:47 am #

        Oh that’s “yet her” as an expansion! who says language is sacred anyway?! 🙂


      • hudsongodfrey July 5, 2012 at 11:07 am #


        • doug quixote July 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

          Thank you HG.

          My story :

          A rollercoaster ride as a teenager. I inherited my mother’s beliefs in god and the church up until about 12 when I managed to embarrass her into not taking me to church, by muttering “it’s all nonsense” and the like during the sermon. Confirmation never happened, because my reaction to the Apostle’s Creed was” I don’t believe any of that”

          But at about 15 I listened to ‘The World Tomorrow’ with Garner Ted Armstrong, and ‘The Plain Truth’ was the go, for a year or so. I think an expose on 4Corners (?) ended that period.

          By start of University I was a moderate believer, but a year of Psychology and a few years of a political science major and five years of law (concurrent) saw that off, and I reached my adult position of thirty years standing :

          Namely that there is no god, 99,9% probable; and that evolution is unremarkable in that we look back and see order, whereas it is chaos and our present state of things is so because it could not have happened any other way and still have become what it is now.

          I have studied the Bible nearly all my life, firstly as a believer and subsequently as a remarkable work of quasi-history and well-written fiction.

          I dislike the god-botherers as hypocritical, self-righteous and god-is-on-my-side types. And dangerous.

          Mind you, should Christ reappear with Angels Trumpets and all the rest, I’ll be the first to say “Hallelujah!” . . . But I doubt I’ll need to.


          • hudsongodfrey July 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

            Thanks Doug I’m kind of the same, though my process was more gradual for lack I think mainly of the opportunity to ponder my alternatives for going from culturally Christian to culturally what for want of a better term I’d now call culturally secular. I’d like to have said enlightened there, but I think its probably too ambitious a word, though living and examined life is my ongoing motivation.

            As for Gervais I found him interesting because I’m always more fascinated by those stories that are most different from my own.

            For anyone who’s interested in something closer to my own lived experience there are any number of talks on YouTube by a woman named Julia Sweeney.


  16. Hypocritophobe July 5, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Keep the mill grinding


  17. Hypocritophobe July 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    They DO care………………….


    • hudsongodfrey July 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      Great so the way that I read it Lucas, Usher and Peters may be made to pay for Pell’s lack of leadership on this. And of all them Lucas seemed a fairly decent sort of bloke I regret seeing involved in this mess.


      • Jennifer Wilson July 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

        Did you all see this from Father Brian Lucas in the SMH this morning?


        • hudsongodfrey July 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

          Yes saw something similar from another outlet. I guess if you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. Which is just a pity in the sense that Pell seems evasive on this whereas Lucas makes an admission, with a poor rationalisation, that is nevertheless a revelation in itself, and a contradiction of Pell.

          As I’d hinted I’ve met Lucas a couple of times in the reasonably distant past and he seemed sincere to me, but then what was it that they said it takes to get good people to do bad things?


        • Hypocritophobe July 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

          The attempt to deal with church paedophilia, and subsequent cover ups.
          Coming to a cul de sac near you…

          This will deliberately get stifled till the federal election.After that,nothing.
          When all the victims have died, by whatever means, the case gets the CLOSED rubber stamp on it.


          • hudsongodfrey July 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

            The presumption that it can be swept under the carpet when the perpetrators and subsequently their victims have died only works if the abuse has stopped. We may wish for that to be true but history shows that to be sadly improbable.


        • paul walter July 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

          Sounds like the Good Samaritan story- the part where the Levite crosses the road to avoid helping the beaten-up guy.


          • paul walter July 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

            Hang on, This is the old bloke strutting about Armidale wearing his jaunty Tam o Shanter. The church didn’t want outside action taken, yet did nothing substantial themselves-breathtaking.


  18. Hypocritophobe July 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    That’s where the ‘game’ appears to be heading…
    If the church can so easily get around their ‘duty of care’,we need as a community and as a fund provider cast them asunder.
    Once one part of the employment chain knows another is committing a crime, and no appropriate action is forthcoming,surely a further crime has been committed and ‘even’ workplace laws have been broken.


    • paul walter July 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      Hypo, as I understand it,the church has been at pains over some time, to construct a formal legal defence that has the church not responsible for priests?
      It’s an institution when it comes to property, but a religion when it comes to being responsible for its priests, who it trains.


      • Hypocritophobe July 6, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

        This is from the shadow attorney general.
        “Let us not forget what this case is about. This is a case in which James Ashby claims to have been sexually harassed by Peter Slipper, and he brings the Commonwealth in because he says the Commonwealth didn’t provide sufficient safeguards for him as a Commonwealth employee against the alleged conduct by Mr Slipper,” he said.

        Now lets swap a few words.

        “Let us not forget what this case is about. This is a case in which a child claims to have been sexually assaulted by a priest, and he brings the Church in because he says the Church didn’t provide sufficient safeguards for him as a child in the trust of the Church employee(priest) against the alleged conduct by the offending priest”.
        If Brandis is correct on the first count………?


        • Julia July 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

          I asked this a while back. After all, we only have the Church’s (via their own legal advisors) that they are not liable or legally accountable and only the priests themselves can be prosecuted.

          My contention is: it would depend on what the action taken is.

          In USA, the jesuit order in (I think) Oklahoma were successfully sued for their involvement in child sexual abuse and cover ups…only thing is: the Order then went bankrupt and so far have avoided paying up…but the precedent still stands.


          • Hypocritophobe July 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

            It will take one victim of the Catholic church,and one of any other church, a principled law firm and the High Court to end it forever.
            Unless of REAL course a Royal commission was called sooner.

            But I hear the sale of smoke machines and mirrors went north just before the EOFYS.


            • Hypocritophobe July 6, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

              My cursor has gone sticky mental:(seems to have a mind of it’s own)
              “Unless of REAL course a Royal commission was called sooner.”
              Should read;

              Unless of course a REAL Royal commission was called sooner.”


  19. Julia July 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Over and over I keep coming across statements such as: To be forgiven by God you must confess your sins.

    And this is being used to excuse the cattlelick heirarchy for protecting their ‘repentant’ priests at the expense of their victims of rape.

    Yet the same Bible they base the statement on also says there is no forgiveness until the sinner genuinely strives to effect restitution to the person sinned against complete with heart-felt apology.

    In other words, until the victim is provided with whatever is needed for their healing and freely & completely forgives…God doesn’t either.

    …then there’s the part about bad shepherds leading their flocks astray. This is a separate issue (a true blasphemy against God) for which there is no forgiveness. For all his bluster the hopelessness of this condemnation is what can be seen in Pell’s eye. When he prays, he knows, the God he believes in isn’t listening. And never will ever again.

    [yeah I know every atheist will jump to their keyboards, but neither Pell, nor Abbott nor the scumbag priests have the atheist’s freedom from God-fear]


    • helvityni July 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

      Sorry Julia, this is a most serious issue, but I had to stop reading to ROFL about the word ‘Cattlelick’. It makes me think of that block of salt and minerals we used to give to our alpacas…I think they ignored it, a bit like the church is ignoring all the horrors of their priests doing…


  20. gerard oosterman July 6, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Until this whole sorry mess is sorted out, all catholike church doors should be cross- taped up and closed down. They are crime scenes. No confessions or anymore communions either. If Pell did not know about this father F and others he still should be charged as being complicit. He is the person responsible for the behaviour of his shepherds and by not having given it more attention after it became known.
    The hide to have encouraged their billions of believers to not use birth control or practise dodgy miserable coitus interruptus while some of those very same preachers were raping children.


  21. paul walter July 10, 2012 at 4:00 am #

    and that’s the good news…


  22. Hypocritophobe July 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    A Claytons enquiry/smokescreen while the paper shredders run hot, and any accumulated leave gets enforced?
    No doubt the admin in the Catholic Church may be getting a few enquiries about transfers?.

    Nowhere near big enough or broad enough.
    Massive failure.Too many RC’s in too many political positions of power.
    This is how it was always going to be.
    How many suicides will we see before anything substantial is done?


  23. Robert Tobin July 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    What are the Mad Monk’s hands playing with in that picture?
    He had to leave St. Patrick’s Seminary because he couln’t keep his penis in his pants.


    • doug quixote July 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Obviously not cut out for the priesthood, if his love objects were female adults.


    • Hypocritophobe July 19, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

      Some may say,
      “It’s refreshing to know that at least on one occasion, one potential Roman Catholic priest chose to keep their hands in their own pockets..”
      Perhaps he is re-arranging his ‘boiled lollies’?

      Or as Paul Hogan once said,maybe his Violet Crumble has melted?


  24. Hypocritophobe July 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    If only the ABC had a high profile political reporter who knew the ins and outs of the Catholic church.


  25. Hypocritophobe July 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    Can anyone one else spot any hard nosed attempt to examine church paedophilia?

    (I know there is an interview with Hynch on exposing child abuse)


    • Jennifer Wilson July 25, 2012 at 7:28 am #

      I just heard Uhlmann and Lewis talking about their book – a political thriller!


      • Hypocritophobe July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am #

        Let me guess which side is cast as the ‘losers’.
        And I wonder if religion makes an appearance?
        I wonder if there is any cameos of aspiring independents with strong views on control of women’s bodies?
        And I sure hope he was not using work equipment and time to produce one single sentence of his book.
        I mean, he has enough enemies in politics who could find out with a late night phone call.
        And there’s the sequel,right there.


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