Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of ‘historical sexual offenses’

Australian Cardinal George Pell leaves the Melbourne Magistrates Court Oct. 6. (CNS photo/Mark Dadswell, Reuters)

An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of “historical child sexual offenses” that go back decades, according to various media reports and confirmed by America. The 12-member jury gave their unanimous verdict in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

The judge decided that the sentencing will take place in early February 2019 and released the cardinal on bail.

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Little is known about the nature of the charges on which Cardinal Pell has been condemned because the entire trial and a second trial that has yet to take place are covered by a strict suppression order issued by the presiding judge, Peter Kidd. The order prohibits reporting on the case in any of the country’s media until the second trial has taken place to avoid prejudicing his case in both instances. The judge has prohibited the publication of the number of complainants in either of the two trials as well as the number and nature of the charges, except for the fact that the charges relate to “historical child sexual offenses.”

An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of historical sexual offenses.

The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis, who placed great trust in him by nominating the Australian prelate to his nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisors (he was the only cardinal from Oceania at that time, and Francis chose one cardinal from each continent) and by appointing him as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy with a sweeping mandate to reform Vatican finances.

Cardinal Pell made great headway in those reform efforts, but he was not finished that work when he decided to return to Australia to respond to the allegations of historical sexual offenses. The cardinal has always maintained his innocence. Committal hearings were held in May at the end of which the presiding magistrate, while dismissing some of the most serious charges, ordered him to stand trial on the other charges.

His lawyers and the Victoria State public prosecutors agreed to split the charges against him into two trials: one relating to alleged sexual offenses committed at the cathedral in Melbourne (the first trial known as “the cathedral trial”) and the other for abuse said to have been committed in Ballarat, reportedly at a swimming pool (known as “the swimmers trial”). Yesterday’s verdict comes from the first trial. That trial began in September but the jury could not reach a verdict, and so a new trial began in November which resulted in yesterday’s verdict. The second trial is expected to take place early in 2019, probably around mid-February or early March, after the sentencing related to the first verdict has taken place.

Cardinal Pell’s conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis.

The Vatican has not commented on the news of the cardinal’s conviction out of respect for the suppression order. On Wednesday, Dec. 12., the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, responding to a question at a press brief in the Vatican about whether the cardinal would remain as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in the light of his judicial situation told reporters, “That is a good question.”

He then added, “The Holy See has the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities. We are aware there is a suppression order in place and we respect that order.”

Pope Francis told journalists in an airborne press conference earlier this year that he would speak only after the judicial process (which includes the possibility of appeal after sentencing) had run its course. Sources say the cardinal, who has always insisted in this innocence, will appeal.

The conviction of another Australian archbishop, Philip Wilson, was overturned by an appeals court, and sources believe the case of Cardinal Pell could follow suit.

Pope Francis has said he would speak only after the judicial process had run its course.

Pope Francis “granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence so he could defend himself from the accusations” on June 29, 2017. Since then, the cardinal has been unable to carry out his responsibilities as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, a senior position in the Vatican, and as a member of the pope’s council of nine cardinals advisors.

Prior to his leave of absence—when allegations became public and some thought the pope should have removed Cardinal Pell from office—Francis applied the principle of law known as “in dubio pro reo” (“doubt favors the accused”), insisting that a person is to be considered innocent until proven guilty. The pope did not remove Cardinal Pell from his Vatican posts then because he believed to do so would be equivalent to an admission of guilt. Francis explained his stance in a press conference on the return flight from World Youth Day in Poland, July 31, 2016. He said: “We have to wait for the justice system to do its job and not pass judgment in the media because this is not helpful. ‘Judgment’ by gossip, and then what? We don’t know how it will turn out. See what the justice system decides. Once it has spoken, then I will speak.”

 

Pope Francis’ words make clear that he does not intend to speak until the judicial process, including a possible appeal, has ended. He has, however, terminated Cardinal Pell’s membership of the council of nine cardinal advisors, Mr. Burke, indicated on Dec. 12. Mr. Burke revealed that at the end of October, the pope sent a letter thanking Cardinals Pell, Francisco Javier Errazuriz (Chile) and Laurent Monswengo Pasinya (Democratic Republic of the Congo) for their work in his council of cardinal advisors over the past five years.

Cardinal Pell could decide to hand in his resignation as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, since it is unlikely that his second trial and an eventual appeal will have taken place by the time his five-year term as prefect expires on Feb. 24. The cardinal, who will be 78 in June, could also resign from his other roles in various Roman Curia departments and offices. Currently, he is a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

Regardless, Cardinal Pell is not allowed to carry out any pastoral ministry in public until the whole judicial process has ended, and then only if the verdict is in his favor.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of sexual abuse.]

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sheila gray
3 months 1 week ago

Somehow, I’m the fist to comment. As a Survivor of 49 years post abuse, all I can say is how exhausted I feel. How different everything in the Catholic World would be right now if Cardinals and Bishops and Heads of Religious Orders and Popes had not all, over, and over, and over again made the fatal mistake of protecting Donations instead of Catholic children and teens!!! Healing is the only way forward now. We can’t go back, but we can turn and move to a different place now, a place where victims and survivors are believed. A place where everyone opens their arms to everyone. A place where we can begin... Again. A New World, without all the creepy, arrogant, self-centered mistakes. Without all the Deception.

Tim O'Leary
3 months 1 week ago

I am very confused and disheartened that there is so little light shed on what actually happened. Cardinal Pell is declared guilty now in a 2nd trial when the first failed to get a conviction (hung jury?), without new evidence. The article says an appeal will likely overturn this conviction as it just did with Archbishop Wilson. The details are being kept hidden somehow to protect who exactly? It seems this is about direct abuse, not the cover-up of abuse (as the Wilson case was). Article says Cardinal Pell strongly maintains his innocence. Surely, for his soul's sake, so late in his long life (78 yrs), he should give an honest and full interview. It would be good for the Church is he didn't obey his lawyers. Pope Francis is having a terrible record with his selections. not that it is necessarily his fault, but to have 3 of 9 of his advisers removed and others still in place suspect. What a trial for the Church.

Reyanna Rice
3 months 1 week ago

As I understand it, it’s typical in Australia to issue a no reporting order on cases like this one.

Tim O'Leary
3 months ago

Carlos - thanks for posting. The more I read, the more it is looking like the Salem witch hunt process Down Under. Colin Jory who lives in Australia and posted early on this article is probably closest to the truth. If Cardinal Pell wins on appeal, it will be another case of failed law enforcement and the jury system. Some possible reforms: 1) have all cases decided by a panel of 3 judges (at least notorious or celebrity cases) , 2) cap all legal fees (so much is driven by greed, not truth or justice), 3) enforce zero tolerance across institutions (including the boy scouts, the camp clubs, the college & Olympic athletic programs, the public schools, movie industry, media moguls, etc.)

J Cosgrove
3 months ago

Tim,

It is interesting that support or condemnation by individuals seems to follow one's political philosophy. I have no idea what Pell did but others are likely to convict that correlates with their past expression of political opinions. I recently had dinner with a good friend from high school who is ultra liberal, yes we get along extremely well. He described Cardinal Wuerl as saint like and one of the wonderful leaders of the Church. I again know little about Wuerl or his behavior so do not know what to think but his comment was consistent with this observation.

Jim Spangler
3 months 1 week ago

This is just a beginning! We cannot heal until all perpetrators are exposed, dismissed, and prosecuted. There are so many, many more. McCarrick still needs to be dealt with, not just shoved off into a Monastery to die quietly without due process. Pell should be dealt with harshly. We cannot forge forward as a Church until all those guilty of abuse, cover ups, homosexuality acts of semenarians, and the issue of homosexuality within the Church. An audit of finances needs to be completed in every diocese in the world, as well as the Vatican. The Church has become corrupt, it can no longer be the moral compass for the world, we can no longer have trust. The only way to deal this monkey on our backs is to start from the ground up, get rid of the filth and diabolical contaminations. There is no other way, otherwise we can never survive as a Church.

Crystal Watson
3 months 1 week ago

The Pope knew before he chose Cardinal Pell for his high positions in Rome that Pell had a terrible reputation on sex abuse. Francis' own commission on sex abuse asked him in 2015 not to choose Pell but he ignored them. Rape was one of the charges made against Pell.

Reyanna Rice
3 months 1 week ago

Charges made by whom? If it was just hearsay with nothing to substantiate it, there is a lot of that on many of the Cardinals. One thing about Pell is that he had a good track record as far as financials went and he wouldn’t take “we always do it this way” for an answer at the Vatican. He wasn’t well liked for how he set things up in his roll with cleaning up the financial operations of the Curia so thstbsays something.

Crystal Watson
3 months 1 week ago

Pell has a terrible reputation on sex abuse. His financial abilities are irrelevant to this issue. Victoria Police charged Pell with numerous offenses, including rape - they wouldn't do that unless they believed they could make a case. It is because of his handling of the Ellis case in 2005 that it's almost impossible now for sex abuse victims in Australia to sue the church. And he has apparently tried to bribe a sex abuse victim to remain silent. If anyone wants to learn more about Pell, watch journalisr David Marr speak about his book on Pell in a 2013 interview with ABC tv.

Dutch Brewster
2 months 3 weeks ago

It doesn't say anything about whether he committed the sex offenses or not.

Aren't you tired of reading about all these guys the Vatican promotes and appoints that end up facing the most serious charges of sexual molestation, abuse, and rape? The leaders of the church are supposed to enjoy spiritual discernment, yet every time another appointee begins to face these allegations, the Vatican is like, "Gee, I didn't know." Really?

How much did the media excoriate the president for his choice of Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, in spite of the spuriousness of the allegations against the judge? Yet over and over and over the pope selects to be his closest advisors and administrators men tainted with not just one accusation, but usually a boatload of accusations spanning decades, yet he claims he was deaf, dumb, and blind to the knowledge of them. And this is the man who can speak from the Chair of St. Peter? God help us!

John Chuchman
3 months 1 week ago

A large number of American Bishops/Cardinals deserve a similar fates

Colin Jory
3 months 1 week ago

I write from Australia. I have a nodding acquaintance with Cardinal Pell, having been at school with him one year, although in a lower form. I have a doctorate from Australia's most internationally-respected university.

The guilty verdict against the Cardinal -- which will be appealed -- is very, very scary given the details of the allegations on which he was tried, which details are very well known and pertain to offences he is supposed to have committed in the sacristy of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. The allegations were addressed and conclusively rebutted at Dr Pell's committal hearing by his excellent barrister, Robert Richter. I am not being partisan but stating what any fair-minded peruser of the facts would say when I declare that there is no way on earth that any reasonable, unbiased person could consider the allegations credible, let alone provable "beyond reasonable doubt".

The Pell jury could only have been an Australian equivalent of the OJ Simpson jury; and the only possible criteria they could have applied was a "preferred dramatic scenario" one, as if they were judging scripts for a TV soapy and preferred an anti-Pell script to a pro-Pell script. Furthermore, they must have been dominated by virulent Pell-haters, and have been thoroughly brainwashed by the incessant jihad of hate which has been waged against Dr Pell by the government media and the Left-secularist majority-section of the private mainstream media since about 2002. They must have developed an unspoken, perhaps unconscious, consensus that it was in the public interest that Cardinal Pell be deemed guilty, regardless of whether he was actually guilty or not.

It is salutary that only a couple of days ago the conviction of Archbishop Phillip Wilson of Adelaide at a judge-only trial for allegedly concealing from police in the years 2004-2006 allegations allegedly made to him in 1976 of another priest's paedophilic predations was overturned on appeal. The Appeals Court judge was scathing about the judgment, implicitly accusing the trial judge of having disregarded the basic requirements of the rule of law, and of having been inordinately influenced by anti-Wilson and anti-Catholic Church public opinion. The acquittal verdict has been given no prominence and reported with minimal detail in the general Australian media, whereas, needless to say, the original trial and verdict were major stories everywhere.

arthur mccaffrey
3 months 1 week ago

thank you Dr Jory-- your comment clarifies the situation immensely. I can appreciate that the public attitude towards RCC in Australia has soured after the publication of the findings of the Royal Commission last December. We have recently suffered through similar public convulsions here in the USA since the media "trial" of Judge Kavanaugh. There are plenty of real abusers (like Harvey Weinstein) and others falsely accused (like Junot Diaz), so we need to know which category Pell falls under. It would help greatly if we knew exactly what Pell has been accused of, or if he is simply using the McCarrick defence of "I don't remember". Can you shed any more light on what the allegations consist of? You say they are "very well known"-- do you think there is a conspiracy among his accusers to set him up?

Colin Jory
3 months 1 week ago

Arthur, there's a good summary and critique of the allegations, and of other allegations made against Cardinal Pell, in an excellent and very well-informed review by Julia Yost in the 3 July 2017 edition of First Things of an ugly anti-Pell slander-book which had been published here in Australia by a journalette with Australia's ABC, the government radio and television network. The review is at https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/07/the-case-against-car….

Vincent Couling
3 months ago

First things first, Colin! First Things is a neoconservative rag ... Richard John Neuhaus was its chief editor until he died in 2009. Mary Ann Glendon (former US ambassador to the Vatican) was a frequent early contributor, as was George Weigel, both of whom are on the board of the IRPL, which runs First Things. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Things for details). It was the indefatigable gadfly Jason Berry, whose relentless investigative journalism did much to expose clerical sex abuse cover ups in the catholic church, who exposed the hypocrisy of this neoconservative group. (See https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/george-weigel-whitewashin… ). JPII promoted Maciel Degollado and his so-called Legion of Christ. How sickening that US catholic neocons defended Maciel while denigrating those he had defiled!!! How short is our memory, Colin? A historian worthy of his salt would surely not be so biased, so blinkered, so profoundly polemical.

Some useful insights from Berry's 2010 NCR piece ...

"Published accusations against Maciel first surfaced in 1997. In a report coauthored by this writer in Conneticut's Hartford Courant, nine men, interviewed in the United States and Mexico, charged that Maciel had molested them in Spain and Italy during the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Several said Maciel told them he had permission from Pope Pius XII to seek them out sexually for relief of physical pain ... U.S. Catholic conservative voices, including Catholic League president William Donohue and political activist Deal Hudson, defended Maciel at the time. Other conservatives had offered their continued support for the Legion founder. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, and CNN political analyst Bill Bennett were among them. Glendon, now a Harvard law professor, scoffed at "old slanders" and in a letter dated May 23, 2002, called Maciel a man of "radiant holiness."

Weigel's own endorsement came a month later. Both of their statements followed the April 2002 meeting of the U.S. cardinals with John Paul in Rome to discuss the abuse crisis. With clergy sex abuse receiving more media coverage, it was a period in which Legion leaders wanted to shore up Maciel's reputation amid heavy scrutiny. The defense of Maciel by conservative Catholics gave valuable cover to Maciel as the Legion struck back against the men from Mexico and Spain who had come forward to relate that they had been sexually abused by Maciel when they were teenage seminarians.

To say that Weigel, Glendon and Neuhaus — who asserted Maciel's innocence as "a moral certainty" — were duped is to overstate the obvious. Clearly, they were influenced by John Paul's own personal support for Maciel.

A larger question is why not one of those supporters bothered to sit down with the men who had accused Maciel, including Juan Vaca, the first to come forward with charges in a document he sent to Pope Paul VI in 1976, or Fr. Felix Alarcón, or the other six survivors, to hear what they had to say."

If the history of the First Things crowd is anything to go by, I wold suggest taking their apologia of Pell with a pinch of salt. If Pell has been credibly accused, then surely he must be investigated. There is absolutely no room for sacred cows where clerical abuse is concerned.

Colin Jory
3 months ago

Vincent, I highly recommended a very well informed review by Julia Yost in First Things of an anti-Pell book. I cannot for the life of me figure out how my commendatory judgment of the review, or the quality of the review itself, is vitiated by what First Things allegedly said in the past about the clerical con-man and pervert Maciel Degollado. Your take seems to be that since First Things was wrong in assuming that Maciel was innocent of the accusations made against him, Yost cannot be trusted in her assumption that Cardinal Pell is innocent of the accusations made against him. I have given the email link to the review: I suggest you read it and judge on the evidence and arguments Yost presents whether she is credible.

Vincent Couling
3 months ago

Colin, surely the Australian criminal justice system is the appropriate mechanism to get to the truth of the accusations made against Pell. What seems to me to be incredible is your theatrical characterization of the jury which found Pell guilty, a jury which surely deliberated and decided based upon the evidence and arguments presented: "The Pell jury could only have been an Australian equivalent of the OJ Simpson jury; and the only possible criteria they could have applied was a "preferred dramatic scenario" one, as if they were judging scripts for a TV soapy and preferred an anti-Pell script to a pro-Pell script. Furthermore, they must have been dominated by virulent Pell-haters, and have been thoroughly brainwashed by the incessant jihad of hate which has been waged against Dr Pell by the government media and the Left-secularist majority-section of the private mainstream media since about 2002. They must have developed an unspoken, perhaps unconscious, consensus that it was in the public interest that Cardinal Pell be deemed guilty, regardless of whether he was actually guilty or not."

Colin Jory
3 months ago

Vincent, you have simply indulged in rhetoric. I cannot see why you have not read -- as you obviously have not -- the well-informed First Things review by Julia Yost which I have mentioned and for which I have provided an e-link (https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/07/the-case-against-car…). There is more to tell -- more which has been told elsewhere --than Julia Yost was able to include within the scope of her excellent review, but every skerrick of it adds weight to the defence case, the basis of which is that what is alleged to have occurred was impossible. The charge was that after a Sunday Mass in the late 1990s the Cardinal (then Archbishop of Melbourne) locked two choirboys, one now dead, in the sacristy of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, where they were sampling altar wine. and made them perform oral sex on him. The evidence that this could not have occurred consists in the physical geography of the cathedral; the procedures which the Cardinal always followed at Sunday Mass there; the testimony of a priest by whom he was always accompanied for that Mass; the layers of heavy vestments he wore; the testimony of others, now adults, who were in the choir at the time; the testimony of the father of the second choirboy who was supposedly molested (and who died after a tragic life of substance abuse); the fact that the accuser told nobody about the alleged offence for twenty years; and more. The evidence against the Cardinal is unitary: it consists solely in the testimony of the accuser, for which no corroborating evidence whatsoever has been adduced. None.

The Australian legal system was once as admirably just as Westminister-based legal systems elsewhere in the world; however, it has been very deeply corrupted with regard to allegations of sexual criminality by the odious influence of the feminists, with there now being continuous pressure on police, public prosecutors, and the judiciary always to believe an accuser -- invariably termed "the victim" -- until or unless the accused can prove his innocence (it's always a he) not merely beyond reasonable doubt, but beyond the farthest reaches of fantasy. This should not surprise you, Vincent, or any other US citizen, given the recent ordeal to which Judge Brett Kavanaugh was subjected. Was it not the case that virtually the entire US liberal mainstream media, all Democrat activists everywhere, and all but one of the Democrat Senators, demanded that the totally uncorroborated and highly improbable allegations made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blaysey Ford be accorded unqualified credence?

Tim O'Leary
3 months ago

Vincent - The discrepancy between the first jury (10-2 in favor of Pell) and the second jury, at the very least, must throw some doubt into the credibility of the Australian criminal justice system. The reversal of Archbishop Wilson's conviction adds more doubt that they are getting at the truth. The gag order also keeps much of this from public understanding. I very much want the truth. If Cardinal Pell turns out to be a homosexual abuser of teenagers, as the current charge says he is, then he should face serious judicial and canonical consequences. But, if he is innocent, then this will be like the Salem witch trials. While you are supremely prejudiced against orthodox Catholics (our prior blogging encounters and your First Things diatribe), I would say we should be on the same side in not convicting innocent SSA people from false crimes.

Phillip Stone
3 months 1 week ago

There has been a relentless and remorseless campaign in the mass media of Australia to pin some sort of guilt on this capable and conscientious man, the only bishop in Australia to acknowledge the child abuse by priests problem in his diocese and in this country and set up official channels to accept complaints and investigate them and to compensate those offended against.

Safe in the Vatican with diplomatic immunity, he nevertheless presented himself in person to face charges which had become more bizarre and more fictional and more hysterical as time went on. Every genuine investigation of his accusers has produced evidence of falsehood in either identification or dating of allegation when Pell was overseas or interstate.

It is impossible to get a jury in Australia of people who have not been repeatedly influenced to have a bias against him.

This conviction is unsafe, I do not believe it.

Now, if it was the trial investigating whether or not Pell had acted in some way to conceal offences of others or protect offenders in the unsafe way of moving them somewhere else, then I would have to weigh up the evidence - but NOT that he was a sex offender himself.

John Stabeno
3 months 1 week ago

It seems the Vatican and the Pope must be swift in dealing with this as it did with McCarrick. Since he has been found guilty, even in this first trial, I believe he should be stripped of the Cardinal title until the time if and when he gets and wins an appeal. It is not good that a Cardinal of the church has been found guilty and retains his title. For his sake, and the sake of the church and the victims, I hope these charges are not true.

Deanna Johnston Clark
3 months 1 week ago

This isn't a bad thing for the Catholic Church....our religion is not about saving face. If the Church had cleaned its own house, as Scripture says, then the secular authorities and courts would never have been forced by public demand to take out the rubbish. Benedict XVI predicted this would be the only alternative and would be God's will...a renewed, humble, inspired era will come from it. No more power politics and secret societies. Our offering to humanity will be Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, with our precious Sacraments.

Paul Mclaughlin
3 months 1 week ago

It seems Francis must deal with Pell, at least, as harshly as McCarrick - defrock his position of Cardinal. McCarrick was never convicted - just accused. I am not saying McCarrick was treated unfairly, but Pell should also have something done to his status as a Bishop and priest. Given what happens to clergy when found guilty of like crimes, at a minimum, Pell has to be treated likewise.

Sure the conviction could be overturned, but that was true with the convicted priests who got bounced out.

Lastly, we must point out Pell, the Archbishop of Guam, the prelates in Chile, McCarrick, Finn - almost all - came up thru the ranks of either JP2 and Benedict reigns. Francis needs to look at how this happened , disclose the results , and figure out how to fix it.

Robert Lewis
3 months ago

Far earlier than that; it goes all the way back to the run-up and sequel to the Second Vatican Council. John Paul II inherited the mess, and the blame goes to him for being a very bad administrator of the Roman Catholic Church. However, he did nothing nefarious and his intentions were always noble and sincere. The problem was with picking someone in 1978 who would apply to the administration of the universal Church the experiences of having lived in a totalitarian and atheistic society. From his experience, the accusations of pedophilia and pederasty against priests by the Communist apparatchik had always been libelous and slanderous. He thought that those coming from journalists and researchers of a capitalist, consumerist and predominantly secularist society would be equally mendacious and anticlerical.

Michael Barberi
3 months ago

It is blatantly obvious that the cancer of clergy sexual abuse, coverup and gross negligence is systemic in the worldwide Catholic Church. Cardinal Pell, Cardinal McCarrick, Cardinal Wuerl and others are only the tip of the iceberg. Of course, Pell could be found 'not guilty' upon appeal but the Australia Church has been seriously wounded and it has very little credibility among Catholics. It will be interesting to see what the Conference on Sexual Abuse in February and Pope Francis will do about all the allegations in the PA Grand Jury Report, the Vigano letter and the entire McCarrick scandal, in particular how and why JP II promoted him to Cardinal when many US Bishops and Cardinals and the Apostolic Nuncio to the US knew about his decades-long sexual abuse.
Let's pray for Pope Francis and our Church.

Tim O'Leary
3 months ago

Michael - When I read the article below I don't know what to think about Cardinal Pell's guilt or innocence. Apparently, the first jury was deadlocked 10-2 in favor of Pell, and now this jury votes him guilty. Pell voluntary went back to Australia to face the charges and thru his lawyer Robert Richter, said “The allegations are a product of fantasy, the product of some mental problems that the complainant may or may not have, or just pure invention, in order to punish the representative of the Catholic Church in this country,” Richter further said that the accusations were “not to be believed” and were “improbable, if not impossible.” Then there is Archbishop Wilson acquittal on appeal. Then there is the gag order preventing Pell from publicly defending himself. What a mess. I would think Pope Francis has to wait for the appeal before he takes any further action on this case, now that Pell has been removed from his Council of Advisers.
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/reports-of-cardinal-pell-guilty-ve…

Michael Barberi
3 months ago

Tim - I don't disagree with what you say. The Australia Church is seriously wounded over its own sexual abuse scandal and the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Of all the cases of sexual abuse most were by priests and religious brothers. It was reported that Church officials historically had often failed to prevent future sexual abuse by transferring them to other parishes.
My point is that sexual abuse, coverup and gross negligence seems to be systemic in the worldwide Catholic Church and we hope that Pope Francis and the February meeting of the Heads of the Conferences of Bishops will thoroughly investigate all allegations, hold accountable those clergy and bishops found guilty of sexual abuse or coverup, and institute effective process and juridical reforms. We also hope that the culture of clericalism will be significantly eliminated and controlled.

Tim O'Leary
3 months ago

I think we are close to agreement on the gravity of this problem for the Church and on the need for a thorough investigation on this. However, I think the emphasis on clericalism is somewhat overblown. CBS This Morning reported Monday on new revelations of hundreds of sexual abuse cases in summer camps (link below) and the Boy Scouts are now filing for bankruptcy for the very same crimes (men abusing boys). It seems there is something about institutions that comprise adult men overseeing minor males that goes beyond anything like clericalism
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hundreds-sexual-abuse-cases-childrens-camp…
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/boy-scouts-america-may-file-bankru…

Michael Barberi
3 months ago

Let me be clear about my view of clericalism. IMO, the culture of clericalism significantly influenced or was a catalyst for the evil cancer that has caused priests, bishops and cardinals to sexually abuse children and adults, or made decisions to cover it up. Clericalism is a culture where clergy and the hierarchy believed it could misuse or over-extend their authority while ignoring or minimizing consequences. We still want to know how and why JP II promoted McCarrick to Cardinal. Did he ignore or minimize known evidence of sexual abuse by McCarrick? On the other hand, did his advisors hold such information from him?
I think we can agree that there are many "root causes" of this sexual abuse scandal. IMO, a contributing factor is clericalism. Let's hope that clericalism is directly or indirectly eliminated, as well as the root causes of sexual abuse, if and when the Church institutes significant process, investigative, and juridical reforms.

Tim O'Leary
3 months ago

Michael - you define Clericalism as "a culture where clergy and the hierarchy believed it could misuse or over-extend their authority while ignoring or minimizing consequences." That is a very generic description that could apply to any of the 3 institutions above (summer camps or Boy scouts), and certainly to public schools and political organizations or the media. I think any definition of clericalism, to be distinct from non-religious institutions, has to bring in the religious element or even the Catholic element, to the definition to have any distinctive meaning. Some possibilities would be 1) a thinking that clergy are free of some of the moral obligations of laity, perhaps, justified by clerics by their taking vows; 2) a thinking that sexual sins are of less importance than other social sins, and have no lasting consequences 3) a thinking that celibacy only means a vow not to get married and that other sexual practices are either permitted, or trivialized; 4) that scandal would do more harm to souls than transparency (e.g. if people left the Church and went to hell), 5) a thinking that one who has the power of giving absolution can get around the justice of the sin/crime. These are some examples, and are by no means exhaustive. All are wrong and all need to be reformed. We need clerics for the sacraments, so there are obviously aspects of clericalism that are essential. My frustration is that clericalism is often used but rarely defined in any religious sense, making reform hard to see.

Michael Barberi
3 months ago

Tim - I used the words like 'clergy and the hierarchy' in defining clericalism and by no stretch of imagination would anyone think it applied to summer camps and Boy scouts. Your frustration about defining clericalism is your own. Why don't we both leave this issue of dealing effectively with clericalism to Pope Francis and the Conference in February to figure out. This is my last comment as our give-and-take is once again becoming unproductive.

Tim O'Leary
3 months ago

Fine to end it here. But, I hope Pope Francis and the Cardinals describe it with specificity when they discuss it. Oftentimes, the differences between bloggers can be partly explained by a difference of terms. Words have meanings and it is important they are well defined, at least for serious resolution of difference (unless confusion and distraction is part of the intended strategy, as in the misuse of pedophile, or LGBT or socialism or even the word Catholic, etc.).

J Cosgrove
3 months ago

Hurrah

The editors removed all the irrelevant discussion on Pell’s views on science.

Colin Jory
3 months ago

Only in the state of Victoria, where more suppression orders are issued than in the rest of Australia combined.

On the one hand, such orders can aid justice by, for instance, preventing the innocent from public smearing. On the other hand, they can subtly alter the mentality of a judge or a jury by giving them a subconscious sense of invulnerability and omnipotence which they would not have if they were conscious that their conduct and findings were in the spotlight of public scrutiny, including the scrutiny of the general law community. When there is no fear of public oversight of hearings social and political club values, vanity and self-importance can loom much larger on the bench or in the jury-room than when there is such a fear. In saying this I am largely echoing observations made to me by a good friend who is a medical doctor in Melbourne, and has several times testified at in-camera police disciplinary tribunal hearings where nudge-wink understandings between those doing the judging and those prosecuting have been disconcertingly obvious, and prejudicial to just process.

James M.
3 months ago

STM that the standards of today are being applied to times & cultures to which they did not apply. One cannot judge the military practice of the 17th century by the Hague Convention, which did not exist in the 17th century; & by the same argument, one cannot apply the modern attitudes towards the abuse of minors to the events of past decades when those attitudes did not exist. Such an anachronistic approach can only lead to injustice. People have be to judged by the standards operative in their own time & culture; not by a different one, even if it is morally superior to that with which those judged were acquainted.

Bill Mazzella
3 months ago

The salient feature is that all of us should rally to rid ourselves of clerical patriarchy and domination. Not so long ago it was considered at least a venial sin to criticize a priest let alone accuse him of a crime. We should begin concretely by eliminating titles like Father, excellency, eminence etc. Secondly, we need a lot more transparency on finances in dioceses and religious orders. We are now sixteen years after the Bishops of the US were on their knees begging forgiveness from the coverup of the sexual abuse of children. They got up ever so quickly as Governor Keating (whom they appointed as an arbitrator) noted that the bishops were more like the Mafia than Servants of the Lord. Dump the robes, chasubles, miters et alii. Let the Cross replace them...Now for another laugh....

Himanshu Sharma
3 months ago

SSC MTS Application Form 2019 will be released in December 2018. Earlier, the application form was scheduled to be released on November 3, 2018 and the last date to apply was December 3. However, the application process has been delayed till further notice.

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