How it’s never Pell’s fault.

10 Feb
'It's only a sin if you talk about it...'

‘It’s only a sin if you talk about it…’


It really has come to something when politicians call on the Vatican Treasurer and Pope Francis’s right hand man to come out from his Vatican sanctuary, and face up in person to allegations of having sexually abused children.

On Wednesday, a Greens motion calling on Cardinal George Pell to return to Australia from Rome to assist police and prosecutors investigating allegations of criminal misconduct against him was supported by the Senate.

Predictably, Pell launched an attack on the Greens, calling them anti religious and characterising the motion as a political stunt, despite the motion being supported by parties other than the Greens.

Pell is well-known for his bellicose self-defence. In 2012 he threatened to sue comedian Catherine Deveny for a tweet she posted that the Cardinal considered defamatory. He also threatened to sue Twitter, but resiled from that threat.

Then there was the church’s prolonged legal battle against complainant John Ellis, who attempted to sue the Archdiocese of Sydney, at the time under the authority of then Archbishop Pell. Mr Ellis spent more than ten years seeking compensation for the five years of sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Father Aiden Duggan. Pell later apologised for the “vigorous and strenuous”  battle he ordered the church’s legal team to conduct against Mr Ellis with the aim of discrediting him, thus protecting and vindicating the honour of the institution in which Pell was a rising star. During the apology, Pell refused to even look at the frail Mr Ellis, who was sitting across from him.

In 2013, human rights lawyer and commentator Father Frank Brennan commended Pell for “being man enough and priest enough” to publicly apologise for the torment Mr Ellis suffered at the hands of the church’s lawyers. Four years later, Brennan’s comment seems both naive and misplaced.

In 2014 Pell was transferred to Rome to sort out the Vatican’s complex finances, and, many speculated, to get him out of the sewer that is the church’s increasingly sordid and public history of sexual crimes against children.

We are still not done with Pell. He has consistently responded with belligerent denial to allegations of abuse and cover-ups, at one point claiming that the ABC and Victoria Police entered into a conspiracy against him, and furiously demanding an investigation.  Pell also claimed that Victoria Police leaked confidential information in order to denigrate him, when it was clear the information in question came from victims interviewed by media. Pell also blamed numerous priests and bishops who he alleged failed to inform him of the rampant sexual abuse of children occurring on his watch over decades.

It isn’t possible to judge Pell on the question of child sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by him, and currently under consideration by the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions. It is possible, however, to form an opinion of the man based on the manner in which he’s conducted himself throughout the years of the Royal Commission into allegations against catholic clergy, and the cover-ups by the church’s hierarchy that made abuses possible, and ongoing.

The Cardinal’s attitude is not encouraging. At every turn he’s resorted to accusation and blame, in an effort to exonerate himself from all responsibility. If we generously give him the most enormous benefit of the doubt, he must at least be held responsible for what can only have been wilful ignorance, innumerable turnings of a blind eye that resulted in horrific abuse of children over decades, abuse he could have taken steps to prevent.

Instead, Pell appears to have prioritised his own career, and the reputation of the institution that sheltered and promoted him, over the awful suffering of thousands of children. Every single act of sexual abuse affects untold numbers of people, as well as the victim: family, other kids who knew and had to hide their knowledge, friends, possible partners, possible children of victims. The scale of damage as a consequence of every act of sexual abuse is incalculable. George Pell is responsible not only for failing to intervene and protect individual children  when he had the opportunity, but for the consequences and aftermath of the individual child’s experiences.

Thus far Pell has been neither “man enough” nor “priest enough” to face what he has done and the magnitude of the intergenerational repercussions, instead continuing to enjoy the safety and security of the Vatican’s protection while attempting to obfuscate grievances against him by attributing them to anti religious sentiment and political stunts. The man is a scoundrel. That much is clear. The full extent of his scoundrelly has yet to be revealed.

13 Responses to “How it’s never Pell’s fault.”

  1. Noely (@YaThinkN) February 10, 2017 at 9:10 am #

    So much for lady justice being blind? I’m sick to death of it, did a rant this morning about the Church (and others) being accorded more respect than they deserve.

    How many cheques did Pell sign off on to make poor innocent victims of child sexual abuse in the church go away?
    Or as I like to call it, covering up a crime.

    How many transfers of Priests, Brothers, Nuns & Lay Employees did Pell authorise to shuffle perpetrators out of the way?
    Or as I like to call it, aiding and abetting a crime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barry Waters February 10, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Everything said about Pell in this account is unquestionably correct. He has become a blot on the church and its followers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Frank February 10, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

    Any evidence? I’m not interested in smear. Irrefutable perversion. Keep digging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suziekue February 10, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

      Struth, Frank, hasn’t Mrs Frank sent you off for a long rest yet?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fiona February 10, 2017 at 9:34 pm #


      Someone who knowingly aids a person who has committed an arrestable offence (e.g., rape of a minor) is deemed to be an accessory after the fact. At the very least, Pell would have to be at risk of such a charge (maybe even a conviction?)

      (Note: I am taking care not to jeopardise Dr Wilson.)

      As to whether pell engaged in such arrestable offences remains moot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson February 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

        Thank you, Fiona.
        As Pell is highly litigious, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.


    • Jennifer Wilson February 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

      I’m editing this comment Frank.


  4. paul walter. February 11, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    When the law is employed to hamper the progress of justice, that is a great shame.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. leftrightleftmusings February 13, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Pell is as guilty as all of them, IMHO so are a lot of Catholics. I can remember hearing rumours of things, jokes being made when I was at school, 50 years ago.

    This isn’t new, only being caught out is new, before the church had police protection.

    There are many elders in the church that knew about these acts, many parishioners too. I know stories of people shunned by the entire congregation because they accused the priest.

    The Catholic church will burn in hell IMHO

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 14, 2017 at 6:50 am #

      I think the church is about the only thing that can make me wish I’d believed in a religious hell.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. leftrightleftmusings February 14, 2017 at 12:13 am #

    and I thought cartoons were supposed to make you laugh, not cry.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. doug quixote February 14, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    The cover up of crimes committed by others is itself a crime. Whilst Pell hides in the Vatican he’ll never be brought to account for his possible crimes. It is a position strangely analogous to other fugitives from justice, whose names may occur to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. meizpod February 14, 2017 at 9:07 pm #

    Only the evil Pell could call an attempt at justice for abused children a “stunt”

    Liked by 1 person

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