Explainer: The context and history of the Cardinal Pell verdict

Australian Cardinal George Pell arrives at the County Court in Melbourne on Feb. 27. (CNS photo/Daniel Pockett, AAP images via Reuters)

Aug. 21, 2019, update: On Aug. 21, the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed Cardinal Pell’s appeal over his conviction for child sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell’s legal team has indicated they will prepare an appeal to Australia’s High Court, the final arbiter on such cases. For now Cardinal Pell returns to prison, where he is serving a six year sentence. He is currently eligible for parole in October 2022. America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, reports on the appeal dismissal here.

Cardinal Pell’s legal team had appealed the original decision on three grounds: that the jury’s guilty verdict was unreasonable given the evidence; that the judge’s decision not to allow the cardinal’s lawyers to present a 19-minute video animation during their closing presentation negatively affected their ability to present their case; and that keeping the jury in a separate room from the court proceedings due to its size constituted a fundamental irregularity.

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The three justices hearing the appeal voted unanimously to reject the second and third grounds. By a 2-1 vote, they rejected the first ground. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson indicated the court found this standard was not met: “We decided there was nothing about the complainant’s evidence that meant the jury must have had a doubt about the complainant’s account. This was a compelling witness, clearly not a liar, not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”

Justice Mark Weinberg disagreed, saying he found the account of the second incident of abuse  “entirely implausible” and “not convincing” and that he “might well have found it difficult to say the jury was acting reasonably” in convicting Cardinal Pell.

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, until recently one of the highest ranking officials in the Vatican, spent his first night in jail, after being convicted in December on four counts of an indecent act with a child under 16 and one count of sexual penetration of a child. Though his final sentencing will not occur until March 13 and his lawyers are appealing the conviction, the cardinal decided to withdraw his petition for bail, believing “it is appropriate for him to await sentencing.”

This comes after his lead attorney, Robert Richter, stunned a full courtroom during an initial sentencing hearing by seeming to diminish the severity of the acts for which Cardinal Pell was convicted. Mr. Richter said that, if the acts happened at all, they lasted “less than six minutes” and constituted “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case.” (People in the courtroom reportedly gasped at Mr. Richter’s comments.)

There are elements in the trial of Cardinal Pell that do not easily translate to a U.S. context. Until news of his conviction was reported by international press in December, few in Australia even knew the trial was happening. Though much of the proceedings were open to the public, journalists were prohibited from writing about the trial in any way, even to mention that it was in process, as part of a suppression order meant to prevent bias from affecting the judgment of the juries hearing this case and the second abuse allegation case that was to follow. (The second case ended up being dismissed at the start of this week, which led to the suppression order being lifted and Cardinal Pell’s public sentencing hearing.)

I spent a week in Melbourne this autumn sitting in on the trial; other than a handful of journalists there was no one else in the gallery, except for one day when a group of teenagers in their school uniforms came in unexpectedly during the examination of a witness. They sat silently in a row in this small courtroom, their presence a haunting reminder to all of us of the many children who have been victimized by Catholic priests. They left just as abruptly as they arrived.

Until news of his conviction was reported by international press in December, few in Australia even knew the trial was happening.

Cardinal Pell’s accuser was never present in the court; nor is his name or the name of his now-deceased co-victim public knowledge. The man’s testimony was given via video in a closed session of the court, the transcripts of which have not been—and may never be—released. That is a point worth remembering; any details you might read about how in 1996 the accuser and his friend, both aged 13, were assaulted in a sacristy by then-Archbishop Pell immediately following a Sunday Mass at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral are drawn only from the questions asked of other witnesses by the prosecution and defense.

No one but the jury, the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys has heard or read the actual testimony of the victim. In fact, the jury that convicted Cardinal Pell in December was only seeing a replay of the testimony and questions presented before a prior jury in the case, which was dismissed in late September after it failed to reach an 11-1 decision about Cardinal Pell’s guilt. (The Australian journalist Louise Milligan did publish a book about the cardinal that includes an account of the assaults; an excerpt can be found here.)

Considering Cardinal Pell’s history

In the days since the suppression order has been lifted and Cardinal Pell’s conviction has been reported in the Australian press, questions have been raised about the jury’s decision, given certain details deduced from the testimony against him. Among them: The cardinal supposedly opened his vestments to reveal himself to the victims (vestments do not, in fact, open but are rather pulled on and off over one’s head); he rushed back to the sacristy immediately after Sunday Mass, as opposed to the standard practice of staying to greet parishioners, and he did so unaccompanied by the aides who would normally be with him at all times; and the door to the sacristy was open while the children were being assaulted, but despite the busyness of the cathedral after Mass, there were no witnesses to the assault.

A few commentators in Australia have declared Cardinal Pell “a scapegoat” for the nation’s outrage following a recently completed, five-year national commission into child sexual abuse that brought out thousands of horrific stories of cover-up and abuse within the Australian Catholic Church. In the United States, George Weigel (who disclosed that he is a friend of Cardinal Pell) wrote in the National Review that “the verdict could not rationally have been reached on the basis of the evidence” and questioned the case for the lack of a corroborating witness to the accuser’s story.

Frank Brennan, S.J., the chief executive officer of Catholic Social Services Australia, spent many days at the trial and wrote in the Catholic periodical Eureka Street: “I was very surprised by the verdict. In fact, I was devastated…. The jury must nevertheless have thought—as the recent royal commission discussed—that children who are sexually violated do not always remember details of time, place, dress and posture. Although the complainant got all sorts of facts wrong, the jury must have believed that Pell did something dreadful to him.”

“Although the complainant got all sorts of facts wrong, the jury must have believed that Pell did something dreadful to him.”

To think that a jury might find it difficult to consider Cardinal Pell objectively is not beyond question. The cardinal has been connected to issues of sexual abuse and cover-up stemming from his earliest days as a parish priest. In the early 1970s he lived with one of Australia’s most notorious serial pedophiles, Father Gerald Ridsdale, and was on a diocesan committee that oversaw Father Ridsdale being moved to new parishes four times in five years, yet he claimed he never knew anything about Father Ridsdale’s crimes. (Father Ridsdale would later be convicted of abuse and assault against 65 children.)

In the 1990s, as archbishop of Melbourne, rather than join the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s national response to abuse, Cardinal Pell announced his own program a few weeks beforehand, called the Melbourne Response. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse determined that the Melbourne Response discouraged victims from going to police, had conflicts of interest that prevented it from serving the needs of victims and put a cap on redress that the A.C.B.C.’s program did not have, creating a situation in which there was no consistency of outcomes across the country.

As archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell would also create the “Ellis Defense,” which argued that the assets of a diocese could not be targeted as compensation for abuse perpetrated by any individual. In 2014 testimony before the Royal Commission, Cardinal Pell reasserted the defense, saying, “If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company to be held responsible.”

In 2002, then-Archbishop Pell was accused of having molested a 12-year-old boy at a church camp while he was a seminarian. An inquiry into the accusation found not enough evidence to charge Archbishop Pell, but the judge stated that while the archbishop “gave the impression of being truthful,” he also found that his accuser seemed to “speak honestly from an actual recollection.” A year later, Pope John Paul II elevated the archbishop to cardinal. In 2014, Pope Francis promoted him to the role of prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, having named him as one of his council of cardinal advisers in 2013.

The jury was instructed by Judge Peter Kidd, “This is not an opportunity to make Cardinal Pell a scapegoat for the failures of the Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Pell’s attorney himself told jurors before their deliberations: “You would have had to live on the moon to not be aware of [Cardinal Pell’s reputation]. Archbishop Pell was portrayed as the Darth Vader of the Catholic Church.” Before retiring for their deliberations, the jury was likewise instructed by Judge Peter Kidd, “This is not an opportunity to make Cardinal Pell a scapegoat for the failures of the Catholic Church.”

But to characterize the verdict against Cardinal Pell as the result of bias smacks to many of the same assumptions of privilege that have become a cancer in the church: Members of a jury, presumably including laypeople, are assumed not to be capable of understanding the details of internal church matters or fairly judging a senior cleric.

While I was in Australia, I was struck by how vehemently those I talked to rejected any thought of giving a guilty verdict to punish the cardinal for his longstanding poor treatment of abuse victims and their families. Even people I knew to be strong opponents of Cardinal Pell insisted a false conviction would constitute no form of justice.

None of which is to say the jury might not have gotten it wrong. One Australian expert says that Cardinal Pell has a good chance of winning on appeal.

In the meantime, the conviction of the cardinal is another painful reminder of the many Catholics, like his accuser, who have spent decades struggling to survive—and others, like the accuser’s friend and co-victim, who later died of a drug overdose his family believes was linked to his abuse.

As though picked for the occasion, the Gospel on Tuesday spoke to just how far the church has fallen short of the path of Jesus: “Then Jesus sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’

“Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me but the One who sent me’” (Mk 9:35-37).

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J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Just an aside, for all you men out there: the genitals of millions and millions of kicking and screaming women wearing layers of skirts (and pelvic coverings underneath those) have been forcibly bared and penetrated in seconds since women started wearing skirts. If men can figure out how to get their penises past the skirts of unwilling women, a motivated man can certainly figure out how to get his penis past his own skirts ...

Thank you for the information about how Australians in the courtroom responded to the defense attorney's minimization of the crime.

Judith Jordan
6 months 3 weeks ago

J Brookbank---Excellent comment.

Tim O'Leary
6 months 3 weeks ago

Brookbank - Pell wasn't wearing a skirt, but a full body vestment. The accuser thought the vestment opened like a coat, or could be twisted around, or had a secret door, when it normally has to be pulled over one's head or at least lifted half up the body. Pell wasn't pulling a garment off someone else, as you describe the rapists of girls in skirts, but would have to get out of his own vestment. Priests often have help taking the vestment off, because it is unwieldy. It all seems like a wild Salem witch fantasy. Imagine the scene - a stickler for liturgical decorum has a lapse of habit and an uncontrollable urge, in the middle of a busy morning. He dashes away from his helpers into a sacristy, keeping the door wide open. He manages to whip the vestment over the head or up half his body, all the while people could be walking in and out. He has time and energy for forced oral sex with two boys (not once, but twice!), then a quick slip back on of the vestment, a regaining of his composure, tidying his clothes, and finally, a rush back to greet the congregation, and Bob's your uncle. Oh, and the 2 choir boys go back to rehearsal and never speak about it for decades to come (one denies it all). All in 8 minutes. Sounds more like a macabre Monthy Python or a dreadful porn circus act. Yet you and Crystal and Judith think this all seems probable, and more likely happened than not.

In any sentencing after a conviction, a lawyer cannot reopen the argument on the conviction, but can only appeal to other aspects of the event for some mitigation of the sentence, such as asking for a sharp axe for the execution. With Kavanaugh, Covington and now Pell, you seem to have a tendency to shoot first, to only later have to lick your wounds. You just might have another hat-trick, or hate-trick.

Judith Jordan
6 months 3 weeks ago

Tim O'Leary---I posted a positive response to J Brookbank because I thought his comments on rape were on point; and, I almost always agree with his well thought out comments. I am not saying how this event regarding Pell happened because I don’t know. I spent many years volunteering work with women who suffered both abuse and sexual abuse and I have researched these topics. What I do know, is what Crystal said. It is common for victims of sexual abuse to have poor recall, incorrect recall, or sometimes no recall until years later. There may be different ways to attack Pell’s guilty verdict, but to claim the victims, especially children, did not give a valid account of the event is an inadequate response.

I admit, I get frustrated because this common response of victims is well publicized, yet we still have people reciting the errors in the victims’ stories as though that proves the innocence of the defendant.

I never heard of Pell until I read the earlier article published by AM on Feb 25, so I had no preconceived opinion of him. I noticed that the article had many postings defending Pell giving many examples as to why. Yet, this current Feb 28 article has information that conflicts with many posters or clarifies the posters’ misinformation. I shall say I am appalled by this article’s assertions that Pell obstructed victims who were making claims of abuse. If true, that is horrific.

I did not follow the Covington issue, but how can you say with Kavanaugh we “shoot first?” Are you claiming that because Kavanaugh won confirmation, we were wrong? Confirmation proves nothing as to guilt or innocence. I never said Kavanaugh was wrong and Dr. Ford was right. My argument tended to be the same as with Pell. Dr. Ford’s statements were very believable. Frankly, I was impressed by both of Kavanaugh and Ford’s statements and it was hard not to believe either one of them. It was frustrating because, again, people were demanding absolute accuracy from Dr. Ford. I also disapproved of the procedure used because it was not the thorough, complete investigation the FBI normally has. Therefore, the issue was never resolved.

I don’t understand your comments about an appeal. Do you live in the U. S. or elsewhere?

Tim O'Leary
6 months 3 weeks ago

Judith - If you studied the details of the Kavanaugh, Covington, and Pell cases, like the Brawley and Smollett cases, you would see they are all based on obviously conflicting and improbable claims. They are of a piece. A conservative gets charged and progressives pounce, full of hateful spiel. Then the exoneration and onto the next victim. Child sex abuse is a terrible act and a terrible crime. And I have written a lot about the current scourge of adult men raping boys in their teens and the enablers covering things up. But, the terrible does not obviate the need to prove the crime possible. Like murder and other crimes, the truth of the claim rests on the details of the alleged crime. Many jailed innocent men have been exonerated years later using DNA and other minute physical evidence. The worst thing a criminal justice system can do is send a man to jail for a crime he did not do, and it is even more outrageous if the evidence suggests it was impossible to do. I get that many Australians hate Pell. But, hate is not a substitute for evidence.

Here are just 2 examples
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/us/20-years-exonerated-dna-prison.html
https://www.innocenceproject.org/indiana-man-exonerated-after-serving-more-than-25-years-for-a-rape-dna-testing-proves-he-didnt-commit/
Judith - My use of the word appeal was not the formal appeal but the argument that is permitted in the sentencing. Substitute "argue" for it to get my meaning above.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

Exactly Tim- as soon as we exchange our search for justice with "I'm going to ignore the evidence because I just have this feeling......", we are done.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, I don't think anyone alive disagrees with you on that. In the criminal justice system, "ignoring the evidence because I had a feeling" by expert witnesses, attorneys, juries and judges would be cause for win on appeal.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

J- haha, ok maybe that was a stretch.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

I like you.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Tim, as noted above, you missed the point.

******But, since you mentioned it, you note that the vestment must be removed over the head "or at least lifted halfway up the body".

Rather like a skirt hiked and bunched around the waist, eh?

Any woman could demonstrate how layers of skirts can be quickly hiked, bunched around the torso and waist with the fabric (fabric, after all, not sheets of aluminum!) held in place between the body and the upper arms and elbows, freeing both hands and both forearms while allowing bending at the waist, etc., for purposes of anything from scratching an itch to industrious labor, including sexual activity. As I noted in my comment (which was a response to professed male incredulity that a motivated man could figure out how to lift his skirts and expose his penis), men have been assaulting skirted women with great dexterity with a version of the same move for millennia. I suggest you borrow some floorlength skirts or a gown; for compaison's sake, Tim, choose straight lines. (And no train!) Head, for instance, to a urinal and then a toilet. Give it a shot. You will get it sorted it in one, I am confident and.your skirts will still be dry and clean and will drop back into place with a firm and straightening yank or two.******

You also demonstrate here a very limited understanding of the fundamental dynamics of trauma and how it impacts memory, disclosure and behavior. It is a basic reality of trauma, Tim, that victims of the same event often NEVER speak to each other about their shared humilating, frightening and traumatic experience (even in the absence of a threat by the perpetrator); and that victims often disclose years and decades later, if at all.

This lack of understanding or refusal to admit understanding harms victims and signals to perpetrators and would-be perpetrators that they may well get away with it because there are people who will dismiss victims whose behavior is wholly consistent with post-trauma behavior.

Finally, none of three commenters you mention - Crystal, Judith nor I - have made any comment about our assessment of Pell's guilt or innocence. It is neither necessary nor pertinent. We, like you, have no role in the case. Funny thing about court cases, right? By design, the only assessments of guilt or innocence that matter are those of the juries and the judges. Our comments have focused on the larger context and on the commentary and the non-participant analysis (the one exception being my comment about the minimizing comments of the defense attorney which, per this article, shocked those present in the Australian courtroom).

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

J, Judith, Crystal- I agree 100 percent that arguing he is innocent based on his apparent conservative beliefs is ridiculous. If however, his conservative ideas have lead others to destroy his reputation or seek his removal, that needs to be taken into consideration. If anything, it may certainly have poisoned the jury. I don't know, but I have read the press was relentless in their negative portrayal of him. If so, that should be weighed in the overall assessment of the fairness of his trial.

Comparing a skirt to a vestment seems to me, once again, to be wanting to deny the possibility of innocence over the reality of the evidence. Maybe he was able to maneuver the garment, perhaps, but like a skirt, please, I do not see that as a genuine comparison. So, while none of you are commenting on his guilt, by undermining any evidence that possibly supports his innocence, as was the case with Kavanaugh, suggests it is not truth that is being sought, but an outcome that aligns with your political/religious ideology.

No one is expected to recall everything, particularly years later; but that is very, very different from not remembering key facts, like remembering you ran out of the house, but you can't remember how you got home to safety. Simply not believable, but in the context of a highly contested Supreme Court nomination that the democrats promised to derail, it becomes absolutely impossible to believe.

We all have a responsibility to listen to and support victims, first and foremost by removing them from harms way. In the case of accused priests and bishops, that is by immediately relieving them of their duties, at least until a verdict of not guilty is reached. One way, however, to also support victims is to call out, and hold to account anyone who dares to bring false charges against anyone, for that derails the whole process, and can cause others to question the truthfulness of an innocent victim's claim, just as guilty priests and bishops cause us all to question every priest and bishop. Often however, people prefer the cause rather than truthfulness, so when someone makes a false claim, there are no consequences. That was evident in the Kavanaugh case, where at least one of the supposed victim's claim was shown to be absolutely impossible to believe, yet no perjury charges to date. Let us hope, and pray that this case can be viewed through a clear lens, and that justice and fairness, not a political outcome will prevail. God help us all if we don't get a handle on this.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, I disagree with much of the specifics here.

Lisa, you wrote: "Let us hope, and pray that this case can be viewed through a clear lens, and that justice and fairness, not a political outcome will prevail." My guess is that Australia and its criminal justice system thinks its lens is clear without help from a bunch of Catholics in the Northern Hemisphere who have zero standing in the Australian criminal justices system in general or in this case specifically, right? It is a frustrating but enduring fact that the criminal justice system is man-made and, thus, imperfect. Nonetheless, most modern societies have decided that it is the best avenue for pursuing justice for the accused, the accuser and society at large. Australia apparently has decided that the way to address the possibility of juries poisoned by the press and politics is to lock the press entirely out of the process until the jury has delivered its verdict. My thought: we here in the Northern Hemisphere should let Australia, Australians and their criminal justice system manage their trials of alleged crimes that were done to and by Australian citizens who are subject to Australian law on Australian land, etc. If the trial violated Australian law and rules, that is for the appeals court. WE HAVE NO ROLE IN THIS CASE, whether we like it or not (and I get it: we don't like it.) Seriously, why are people in the Northern Hemisphere second-guessing an Australian jury trial and conviction of an Australian citizen for a sex crime committed against other Australian citizens on Australian land? Appeals and appellate court justices exist to address any irregularity in the process. Again, WE HAVE NO ROLE IN THIS CASE.

Lisa, I get it that, for you, "not remembering key facts, like remembering you ran out of the house, but you can't remember how you got home to safety" is "simply not believable". What is believable to you is entirely distinct from whether or not that memory pattern is consistent with the neurological and psychological science of trauma and its impacts and it is also entirely distinct from whether that memory pattern would be found credible and consistent with trauma science if elicited in an appropriate forensic interview (the kind described by the GOP sex crimes prosecutor said is both standard and best practice in criminal investigations of sex crimes). Was Blasey Ford telling the truth? Was Kavanaugh telling the truth? I am not prepared to waste my time hazarding a guess; my interest, as is the case whenever i learn there has been a sexual assault allegation made, is that the appropriate experts investigate using gold-standard tools. processes and the available expert knowledge and analysis. That didn't happen in that case, Lisa, and so I don't see the point of a bunch amateur sleuths (which is most of us) arguing about the evidence. I get it that you don't find Blasey Ford believable and I get it that others don't find Kavanaugh believable. Our system of justice is designed so that it does NOT matter what any of us believe unless we have been appointed a direct role in the case and subject to the laws and rules of criminal investigations. I honestly don't have anything more to say about that case.

The point of "the skirt" had nothing to do with the evidence in this case or this case. The point was the absurdity of this true-crime amateur sleuthing in which an Australian conviction of an Australian citizen for a sex crime against Australian citizens hinges on the mostly male incredulity that a motivated man could take out and penetrate his penis in an unwilling person's body in a figurative tight spot when all of human history is punctuated by men taking out their penises and penetrating unwilling bodies in a figurative tight spots. I am not arguing for the likelihood that Pell is guilty. I HAVE NO ROLE IN THIS CASE. I am arguing that it is absurd to insist that this man could not possibly have done what men have been doing since time immemorial. I am saying it is time to relinquish the privilege of spinning narratives that deny the history and dynamics of sexual violence when it suits us and come to grips with what we know: rapists have been raping in impossible to imagine circumstances and ways forever and that includes Catholic clerical rapists. It is time because rapists and would-be rapists are listening and their victims and would-be victims are listening. Again, I HAVE NO ROLE IN THIS CASE and so it does not matter if I think Pell is innocent or not and, thus, I have zip for an opinion. He was convicted by a jury of his peers and he is appealing and I agree whole-heartedly we can pray for the peace and healing of all involved.

Lisa, I am all for persons who make false police reports and false sworn statements of sexual assault being punished as severely as possible by law. The impact of these reports is profound and lifelong and innocent persons have the right to justice when falsely accused. I am curious, Lisa: do you think you actually know and have met or heard of someone who doesn't believe that people who file false police reports should not be nailed to the wall? Look at the across-the-board, no-holds-barred outrage and disgust at what appears to have been false reporting by Jessie Smollett. Other than his family and his lawyers, I haven't come across a single comment anywhere that he should not be nailed to the proverbial wall. I think you are mistaken when you write, "Often however, people prefer the cause rather than truthfulness, so when someone makes a false claim, there are no consequences." The consequences
you - and every other person I can think of, myself included - are determined by law and pursued and implemented by the criminal justice system, not the people holding signs or writing comments for the cause.

I agree: Let us hope, and pray that justice and fairness prevail. God help us all if we don't get a handle on this. Be well. I think this horse is just about dead.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

J- I have not offered any criticism of the Australian court system, nor will I. But, whether it be apartheid in South Africa, or a Romanian family in Sweden, who temporarily had their children unfairly removed from their custody, injustice is our business, and fighting for it is a duty of our faith, and our role in the context of us as a people. The Australian judicial system is not on trial, anymore than the American, Canadian, European, Ghanian, Columbian and Italian, etc, etc are. All are susceptible to human error, whether that be via judge, jury or outside influence, and all have had innocent people found guilty of a crime they did not commit. It is always our obligation to speak up, even when difficult, or unpopular to do so.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you for that clarification, Lisa. You have not criticized the Australian criminal justice system and I apologize. Others here have: one person referred very dismissively and condescendingly as a "kangaroo court" (this from a person who routinely engages in ugly name-calling and disparaging, demeaning commentary whenever he disagrees with someone or a group of persons about any number of topics); there have been criticisms which amount to placing the Australian criminal justice system on trial as opposed to simple observations about this case in a sovereign democracy's criminal justice system:, etc.

My sincere apologies: again, you are correct that I have not seen those disrespectful, arrogant comments in your posts. In broad strokes, I agree with your last thoughts. Have a great day.

Tim O'Leary
6 months 3 weeks ago

Brookbank - you keep skirting around the issue, which is whether or not Pell did what he is accused of, and the evidence for that judgment. Now you say people outside Australia should not criticize the case or the courts. When did you adopt the arbitrary position that concerns about justice should stop at the US border for Americans? A few hours ago? As Lisa pointed out, this would stop any criticism of injustice in foreign lands (I've never heard anyone defend such an inhuman position before). Then you pretend to be a snowflake about ugly name-calling, when ugly disrespectful slurs like homophobe/bigot/racist are regular fare for you (over 60 times in just a single comment thread this week).

As to your newly adopted principle, you do not follow your own advice, since your very first comment introduced skirts to defend the court case and you explained away an accuser's memory lapses or inability to keep the story straight by hypothesizing neurological damage due to the abuse. So, if the memory was more consistent with the facts, would that mean the trauma of the abuse was less? Have a great day.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

I went back to that thread and I see I missed quite a few exchanges. I don't see any difference between calling someone a homophobe and calling them some other demeaning, derogatory names. While the wounds may run deeper for some pejoratives, the intent is the same. A slur is a slur. Nothing in Tim's posts come close to suggesting he is remotely homophobic, and it is a slur to suggest so.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, the time has long since passed when Americans are confused about whether it is "intolerance" to refuse to tolerate intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, etc. It is not.

In the US at least, it is understood that homophobia (which includes language) is directly implicated in suicides by our children and teens, youth homelessness, foster care, substance abuse, mental illness, violence, trauma, discrimination in housing, education, jobs, etc. Homophobia can be comparatively subtle (for instance, "I am pissed that the summit addressing sexual abuse of minors in the church didn't focus on gay priests who abuse boys" without simultaneouly saying "I am pissed that the summit on sex abuse of minors in the didnt focus on heterosexual priests who abuse girls". This was Tim's main complaint, stated explicitly to you).

Tim has a long history of homophobia on this site. Tim and many longtime readers, especially many who have disclosed as gay, are aware of that and, thus, read his comments in that larger contexts.

Tim has the added tendency to engage in name-calling when he disagrees with persons who have identified as being different from Tim or holding different religious, political, national, cultural, etc., values (hence, "kangaroo court" and "snowflake" here). He also has a tendency to use words like "islamophile" and "homophile" and use them to disparage persons who stand in solidarity with the objects of his prejudice; that let's him go after the community he denigrates (Islam, gay, protestant) and their allies. In the US, we have a long history of bigots using "X-lover" or "X-phile" to publicly identify them as fair game for a share in the bigotry and hatred of any person who dares stand with the targeted group rather than with their tormentors. (An immediate example here: homophobic Catholics can't get either Fr James Martin to identify his sexuality. They alternate between using pejoratives as a gay man or a supporter of gay priests. For the homophobes, he is a "homo" or he is a "homophile". There was a time when women who refused to engage in kneejerk ugliness about men-as-men were called the pejorative "man-lover".)

Again, here in the States, we recognize that pattern: " Jews and their Jew-lover allies" and "n*ggers and their n*gger-lover" allies" and *sp*cs and their sp*c-lover allies", native Americans and "indian-lover allies" and, now, "homos and their homophile allies".

The United States has a profoundly ugly history of bigotry and discrimination, Lisa. Catholic Americans have had their own time as a target of that virulent bigotry and discrimination. Most of us refuse to tolerate any of it, in any form, from any person.

I disagree with you and I appreciate you. And I am not going to engage with you further about Tim, as if he were a (gleefully) naughty boy and we his bickering parents. Peace.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

J- I did not, and do no see the post you are referring to by Tim. As I'm sure you are aware he and I disagree on certain issues, as I do with you. "an irrational fear of, an aversion to, or a discrimination against" is not what I see in his posts . Practicing one's faith, questioning and seeking answers to the relationship between celibate priests, sexually active priests and homosexuality, if any, does not come close to that definition. That does not translate to not wanting to know the relationship between priests and heterosexuality, it means the formers appears to be far more prevalent, and needs to be researched. I can not speak of previous posts, or ones I didn't see, but I can say we should be very very careful when we label anyone in such a negative way. I have seen posts by others that I find very harsh, but I believe it comes from absolute frustration at the present situation both within the Church, and the direction we as a society are taking concerning people's rights and freedoms. We should keep that in mind. Peace too :)

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, I agree we should be very careful before we consider labeling a person homophobic (or racist or sexist or any of the terms which describe persons who engage in any of those behaviors habitually). There is a difference between the person who occasionally and unconsciously engages in homophobic language or racist behavior and the person who habitually and consciously engages in that behavior. The first is often the result of what is known here in that states as "implicit bias", bias borne of the enculturation of an entire society that the dominant group (white, straight, Christian, American, you get it) is the preferred, better, best, etc, and other groups (non-white, gay, non-Chrustian, non-American are non-preferred, worse, worst, etc). Because those messages are communicated through the culture (language, history, education, laws, images, tv, religion, etc etc), most of us engage in implicit bias at some point(s).

Some of us engage homophobic bias habiitually, consciously, intentionally because it communicates their worldview. Those are homophobic people.

I agree it is very important to distinguish between the two. The first calls for dialogue and a demand that we become conscious of and responsible for changing what has been unconscious yet still and discriminatory. The latter requires immediate, direct and overt censure ... every single time, especially by persons who belong to the culture/group which has been the source of the bigotry. I am a straight white Christian (Catholic) well-educated professional American, a culturally privileged demographic if ever there was one and a member of one of the most historically bigoted demographics I can imagine. My culture needs to change.

Tim O'Leary
6 months 3 weeks ago

Brookbank - while you are showing just a smidgen of self-reflection on your sudden concern for ugly name-calling and demeaning language, you might remember how you never called out Robert Lewis for his reflection on Lisa: "the answer to your question is as obvious as the homophobic egg on your face, my dear" and in fact showed your camaraderie with Lewis in your very next comment. So much for the sisterhood appreciating each other. When it comes to your own sexist pejorative phraseology, you might reconsider the one above: "a (gleefully) naughty boy" or your previous use of "clever little thing", "silly rabbit," and other inanities. I’m not a snowflake but, since you're reflecting...To use your own phrase: "it is a such bizarrely pugilistic little tell, isn't it?"

On your larger point about your disdain for the class of "straight white Christian (Catholic) well-educated professional American," I recall that even your ally Robert Lewis called you out (“listen, Mr. Social Justice Warrior”) for prejudice re the Covington kids: " smug white teenage boys," "racist thugs," "THESE kids are racist." "hauled that smirking thug away by the jacket," “garden variety racist insolence,” and time "for white America that the accountability chickens have come home to roost." For any apparently straight white Christian (esp. Catholic) male, you might just consider that you have an unconscious or conscious prejudice that is the cause for you so frequently misreading a situation of justice. or, to use your own words again, that you "resist thinking critically about ourselves and the myths we tell ourselves and others."

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

Tim- Your ability to argue for or defend the Catholic Church, politics, or in this case yourself, is the best I have seen on this site. Even though we part ways on certain issues or interpretations, I appreciate and have learned things from your posts,

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Tim, you are 100% right about my comments about Covington; I have acknowledged elsewhere that my response was kneejerk and irresponsible. It was a good and important and humbling learning experience. You are 100% correct that I, too, engage in bias at times, as I have said in past and in this thread.

Tim, I am hard-pressed to worry about calling you "silly rabbit" and "clever little thing" and "naughty boy" when you are engaged in bigoted name-calling and narratives about so very many different people or groups of people who disagree with your or are different from you. In the face of your frequent name-calling here, I absolutely agree you can handle a bit of teasing here and there. No apologies for describing as "pugilistic" to your pugilistic (boxer-like) tendency to call people by their last names when you disagree and first names when you agree. No thanks to your demand re: Robert.

Finally, Tim, it is just a fact of life that people often think and speak critically about their own communities. I hear you that it upsets you that a straight white Catholic Christian American might speak critically of her own demographic because you are apparently also a straight white Catholic Christian American and don't share those criticisms. I hope you find a way to manage your discomfort with that reality because as the world changes and people begin to challenge the privilege and dominance of straight white Christian non-poor Americans and begin to encode in law and culture and institutions an equal share of the advantages, resources, the creation of cultural narratives (via the media, education, books, art, music, theatre, film, the writing of history, etc), open doors, leadership roles, respect and power that our demographic has enjoyed throughout history, you are going to hear more and more of these criticisms of our demographic AND a great and wide and deep relief that the days of our unequal power and influence and share are rapidly ending. I personally welcome it because other communities have suffered and do suffer because of the privilege and dominance of our demographic and most particularly that of the male members of our demographics. Them's just the facts, the stats, the reality, Tim. I, for one, consider that we are very fortunate these changes are likely to happen without the various forms of violence that other communities and demographics have experienced at the hands of our community and demographic.

Again, you are 100% right that it behaved very badly re: Covington and that my comments were chockful of ugly name-calling and unjust assumptions. I regret it and am paying attention.

I, for one, am done here. Be well, Tim.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

J- I agree with you completely concerning privilege. I think no matter what we have been given, including through our own hard work, somewhere along the chain, it is as a result of someone else's hard work or wisdom, that kickstarted something, and therefore we must be grateful for everything we have, and have achieved. Those of us fortunate to have been given opportunities, or exposed to them must never forget that. Everything, whether it be a happy family home, a financially secure home, quality education, role models for hard work, faith and perseverance, good looks, etc all are gifts. We must always recognize the disadvantages others have started with, and know, but for the grace of God go I, as one day we will be held to account for how we have treated and advocated for those less fortunate.

J, your ability to acknowledge any fault, is admirable, and says a lot about your character. I look forward to another challenge with you :)

Tim O'Leary
6 months 3 weeks ago

I am a Catholic and believe the truth of her teachings, constant in the main for over two millennia. My blogging has the prime motive of defending the faith, correcting lies and false charges against God and country, fighting injustice wherever it is exposed and exposing pompous political correctness. I strongly believe that Church teaching and natural law is for everyone’s good, and that contraception, divorce, fornication, homosexual acts, transgender surgery, abortion and infanticide are not good for anyone. I follow Judeo-Christian teaching, natural law, and common sense. I do not hate any person, just the sin that I believe is damaging them, like a doctor who prescribes treatment and hates disease. I want all to be saved, as the Fatima prayer I pray has it: “O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.”

I do have a substantive objection with the idea of settling historical scores by assigning privilege or guilt by ethnic, racial, sexual or religious group. Contrary to J’s constant reiterating of my white privilege, I care little for my supposed racial identity, never liked being forced to identify as white or straight or cis or some-such. I certainly don't fear any change in the ethnic composition of my country provided the uniqueness of the American identity is preserved. I do not want to lose this great historical treasure. Many of these group identities are imposed from the outside (some just yesterday), purely for political advantage. Their use in this way is inherently prejudicial and hateful. I also do not appreciate being assigned a privilege or guilt for past sins of slavery or indigenous suffering when my ancestors were facing famine at the time in a different country. I have not suffered those historical crimes and neither has anyone else alive. The only effect of bringing up historical crimes and demanding apologies for things never done is to secure political advantage in the present age and instill animosity and division in today’s society. Apologies for historical crimes or the sins of others are simple virtue signaling or transparent power grabs. Far better to follow MLJ’s admonition to judge each person by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin, or by extension, the ethnic/sexual group they inhabit.

A brief note on the use of first or last names going forward. When one uses an initial, it can cause confusion, which I saw creep in when dealing with comments from J Cosgrove and J Brookbank. So, despite my common cause with Cosgrove on most topics, I also began using his last name at the same time as I began using Brookbank. It is for clarity. I also agree that we should all be able to “handle a bit of teasing here and there.”

Crystal Watson
6 months 3 weeks ago

It's not just children who don't always remember details of an attack, though the attack did indeed happen. This subject came up when Kavanaugh was accused by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. From the BBC - Why sexual assault survivors forget details

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Thanks, Crystal.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

Crystal/Judith/J- I read earlier that you were shocked that all the conservatives were sticking together. I'm trying to figure out how my liberal friends here, who I share some agreement with, are not troubled by a possible injustice. I'm starting to believe that those principles are no longer really part of the liberal ideology anymore at all, and it is strictly based on issues of interest, such as your unwavering support of the women against Kavanaugh, the attacks on the boys from Covington, and now the questionable verdict against Cardinal Pell. What happened to basing decisions on reason and the evidence at hand, all in pursuit of truth and justice, in every case, rather than seeking the truth you wish it to be? I am not saying Cardinal Pell is innocent. I do not know enough about the evidence to say so, but I have read enough to question it. Why can you not seem to do the same?

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, I appreciate you.

Crystal cited an article about what is now very basic science, and she noted the context in which that particular article was published. The information really is Trauma Science 101. One can believe Brett Kavanaugh and still recognize that the statement "Blasey Ford's details are imperfect and thus it didnt happen" is not consistent with trauma studies and foundational knowledge and, thus, should no longer be presented as received wisdom. We now know that it is not true. Color blind people should not be be presumed to be lying when they mistake a color and neither should trauma victims be presumed to be lying when they mistake or are not aware of details. Kavanaugh's guilt or innocence aside, that case provided an opportunity for Americans and others to educate themselves about the science and nature of trauma and memory and post-trauma behavior. The commentary on the Pell case suggests, to me at least, that Catholics as a group may have failed to learn or failed to decide to apply that learning ... and that tips the scales in favor of perpetrators and against trauma victims. (A comment on another article, in which a person who apparently very knowledgeable about sexual and domestic violence cases defended Pell by saying Pell's public life as a strict and traditional Catholic prelate who took action against clerical sexual abuse argues against the possibility that he is a pedophile. There is a parallel in the insistence by Brett Kavanaugh and his supporters that he can't have assaulted a teenage girl in high school because of all these admirable facts about his life. That is a patently false and, thus, inherently dangerous equation. Ask any and every cop. But here we are with some promoting a narrative about how Pell is too this and too that to have sexually assaulted anyone ...)

Individual cases are individual cases AND they sometimes magnify larger issues and patterns. Pell is appealing his case in the local court; that is the appropriate context for pursuing justice here; he will win on appeal or he won't. Crystal, Judith and I are responding to the commentary in the Catholic press (and commentaries in response to it).

I agree with you that there is much for everyone, myself included, to learn from the Covington Catholic case.

Crystal Watson
6 months 3 weeks ago

Yes, what J Brookbank wrote. In cases of sexual assault there's almost never a witness, and in historical cases usually no forensic evidence. Prosecutors won't bring a case without the belief that there is adequate evidence of a crime - the case would be dismissed otherwise. At some point you have to have faith in the criminal justice system and the jurors.

Judith Jordan
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa M---
Hi Lisa. Like you, I totally believe in justice. That is why I was critical of some postings about the defense of Pell. They seemed to me to be defending him because he had conservative views like theirs.

You will note in my posting to Crystal, I pointed out that she had stated that conservatives will support Pell. I could not believe that. I wrote to her, “I found that difficult to believe since it was an issue about sexual child abuse which I never think of as political. I was shocked to discover how correct you are. I see conservatives all over online defending Pell. I am appalled that people would mix child abuse with their political views.”

Further, on the same page, in my long response to Phillip Stone, I stated:

“Your comments imply that you reject Pell’s guilty verdict because he is very conservative. What would your views be if Pell were a liberal? Whether Pell is guilty or innocent, we must not pollute the discussion with our political views. That is the last thing we need to ascertain the guilt or innocence of the clergy. They should be judged on their behavior, not their political views.”

As for Pell’s case…as always, I hope justice was done. I don’t know enough about the case to know and I never heard of him until I read the Feb 25 article in AM. There are many conflicting views. For instance, if you read the postings on the Feb 25 article about him and then read this article published on Feb 28, there are many, important conflicts. At this point, I can only go by the court’s decision. I do hope that if there are any injustices they are overturned on his appeal.

I shall say I am appalled by this article’s assertions that Pell obstructed victims who were making claims of abuse. If true, that is horrific. However, that does not mean he is guilty or innocent of his charges.

I hope this clarifies my views. I would hate to think you believe that “principles are no longer really part of the liberal ideology anymore at all.” I would particularly feel terrible if you thought that because of anything I wrote.

Hope all is well.

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Lisa, Crystal, Judith --- I really appreciate this dialogue. And, Lisa, I second Judith's words. My concerns around the Kavanaugh hearings and the commentary on the Pell case have nothing to do with the politics of the men. My concerns in both cases were/are grounded in the narratives about sexual assault; sexual offenders who don't fit the false but preferred profile of "obvious bad guy"; sexual trauma's impact on memory, disclosure, post-trauma behavior in the immediate and long-term aftermath; the public brutalizing of those who report sexual assault by prominent men; the use of an investigating body where the alleged perpetrator is a member or powerful partner/friend/beneficiary of the investigating institution while the alleged victim is an average Joe, a stranger with no relationship and nothing to offer the adjudicators except a prayer for the integrity of those all-powerful stranger-deciders (for instance, a Congressional investigation rather than the standard law enforcement investigation in the case of judge with an existing lifetime Congressional appointment who is seeking a second lifetime Congressional appointment; and, in this case, the apparently common Catholic position that a Vatican investigation and verdict re: one one of the highest ranking men in the worldwide Roman Catholic Church will be more trustworthy than that of the Australian criminal courts). In neither case did I know beforehand that the accused man was conservative (I was in the middle of multiple huge and consuming life events in the lead up to the Kavanaugh hearings and had no knowledge of him; Pell has not been on my radar at all because we Americans have had plenty of chaos on our own side of the Catholic street.)

I, too, have been puzzled to discover that ideology has impacted assessments of Pell's guilt or innocence. Phillip Stone's comments stand out here as a particularly striking example, and you and I communicated as much in that thread. This openly ideological component to so many Catholic assessments of Pell's guilt or innocence is one of the many reasons I am flabbergasted by the idea - at this very late date and shared by so many - that a Church-led investigation and trial will result in a more trustworthy outcome than that of a civil criminal court.

None of the four of us has shied away from the fact that we disagree on many points. As you say, we are "your liberal friends here" and you are our more traditional friend here. (What term would you use to capture how your perspective differs from ours?) We are all focused on justice and, I believe, simply have different starting points and, to some degree, different language and different cultural affinities.

Peace to you, Lisa, Crystal and Judith. Lisa, you are unfailingly loving. I disagree with you often and, in dialogue with you, I experience hope that it is worth sticking around our shared Church. (Judith, by the way, I am also a woman)

Judith Jordan
6 months 2 weeks ago

J Brookbank---
Talk about making assumptions without evidence. I am guilty of this by my former belief that you are a man. I don’t know why I made that assumption except for your use of an initial and your last name. I know women also do that, but it “appeared” to me that more men do it. Frankly, I thought, for a man, you were exceptionally sensitive to and had great knowledge of women’s issues. Thanks for telling me you are part of the “sisterhood.” (Am I allowed to say that on these pages?)

Colin Jory
6 months 3 weeks ago

Like the proverbial vicar's egg, this report is good in parts -- indeed, good except in small parts. Yet those small parts matter, in that they imply that there are firm grounds for at least suspecting that in his past Pell knew about and covered up some priestly abuse of minors. The author's key relevant words are, "The cardinal has been connected to issues of sexual abuse and cover-up stemming from his earliest days as a parish priest."

The fact, related by the author, that as a junior priest in the Ballarat diocese Pell shared a presbytery with the notorious paedophile Father Gerard Ridsdale was howled and bellowed by the Leftist media from the late 1990s until a few years ago as "proof" that Pell "must have known" about Ridsdale's predations, then suddenly there was silence on the issue. Why? Because a prominent TV journalist with impeccable Leftist credentials, Paul Bongiorno, a layman, stated publicly that when young he was for several years a priest of the Ballarat diocese; that he spent six months as a junior priest under Ridsdale in the latter's presbytery; and that he never had the faintest inkling of Ridsdale's predations. As for the author's statement that Dr Pell "was on a diocesan committee that oversaw Father Ridsdale being moved to new parishes four times in five years", this is flat false. The relevant priests' committee was never involved in decisions regarding the movement of priests: the bishop, the late Ronald Mulkearns, always made the decisions without consulting the committee.

Regarding Mulkearns, here is a relevant fact not hitherto published, although I have communicated it to key persons. In 2004 or 2005 at the presbytery in Uranna, in the New South Wales diocese of Wagga Wagga, I and the then-parish priest, who still lives, were told by the late Father Joseph Conway that he had been told personally by the late Monsignor Brian Twomey, an outstandingly honourable, intelligent and prominent priest of the Melbourne archdiocese, as follows. In the 1950s, when Twomey and Mulkearns were in the Melbourne archdiocesan seminary together, Mulkearns had approached him, clad only in a towel and in a state which showed he was homosexual, and invited him to join a discussion group with "advanced views" on sexual morality. Twomey didn't. What I am suggesting is that when Mulkearns was bishop of Ballarat any actively homosexual clergy in his once-splendid diocese, including paedophile ones, would have known what Mulkearns had been up to; and because Mulkearns would have known they knew, he would have been fearful of acting against them (even if he was disposed to do so) lest they "spill the beans" on him.

Regarding J. Brookbank's glib comment: if Pell's accuser is to be believed, Pell must have somehow held up his outer vestments; tugged his inner ones -- despite their being tied tightly at his waist by a cincture -- around his body until one of the side-slots which allow access to trouser pockets was at the front; taken his penis out of his trousers and through the slot; held the complainants head; then forced him to take the penis into his mouth. J. Brookbank might like to borrow a priest's vestments from somewhere and attempt this amazing feat of dexterity, contortionism, and strength himself. It will help if he was born with three or four arms.

Lisa M
6 months 3 weeks ago

Colin- Thanks so much for the information.

Stefan Svilich
6 months 3 weeks ago

Why are the defense attorney's comments so shocking? The guy was doing his job: representing a client in a difficult case. Try hanging out in the criminal courts for a day or two - it will be an education.

Christopher Lochner
6 months 3 weeks ago

Certain parts of this defense do not pass the "smell test". The opening of garments/Cannot the garments be pulled up from the front (as if someone had to relieve himself quickly, doesn't this happen)? He rushed back to the sacristy unaccompanied/ I've seen this many times when an individual has a plane to catch. The door was open/ The prevaiing courtesy is if one does not have business in the sacristy and is not invited in then one does not enter. It would be quite rude to barge in....These are petty responses to a petty defense.

arthur mccaffrey
6 months 3 weeks ago

this whole story simply reinforces the need for abuse to be detected and reported early--no SOLs, no coverups, just call the cops and create a very timely record of what happened. If you tell the police what happened yesterday, rather than 25 years later, you will have a better chance of being believed........AND the abuser can be caught sooner, thus saving other victims.

Phillip Stone
6 months 3 weeks ago

Out in the real world, many women are raped by people known to them and people who are complete strangers.

An enormous percentage of the offenders get away scott free with it for numerous reasons.

No action by the civil society, changes in the criminal law or the magic transformative power of socialism will ever change this.

Counterculturally and being extremely politically incorrect, I believe we should return to older practices.
Concepts like chaperones, modesty in dress and prudent sobriety come to mind. After all, they were developed as a result of experience and having solicitous love for the children and precious and vulnerable.

Judith Jordan
6 months 2 weeks ago

Philip Stone---
I suggest that it is you who are advocating political correctness. Your recommendation that we should return to older practices such as “chaperones and modesty in dress” etc. are responsibilities that have traditionally been placed on women, not men.

It reminds me of a time when Golda Meir was Prime Minister of Israel. She was asked to place a curfew on women to end a series of rapes. She refused, saying, "But it is the men who are attacking the women. If there is to be a curfew, let the men stay at home."

Needless to say, the idea of a curfew was dropped.

Dr Robert Dyson
6 months 3 weeks ago

Hmm ... Immediately after Mass he would have been wearing a cassock, an alb and cincture over it, and a chasuble on top of that; presumably the boy who was 'penetrated' was fully clothed also; the assault was perpetrated against two boys in the presence of each other (each of whom would therefore be a witness to the assault on the other); the whole thing was over in a few minutes; and took place in a room with the door open. I am by disposition a sceptic, but this seems to me a thoroughly unsafe conviction. Could it be that what we have here are two naughty boys who got torn off a strip for pinching the communion wine, decided to tell a juicy lie by way of payback and then found that they had woven a web too tangled to get out of?

Christopher Minch
6 months 3 weeks ago

I will leave the final determination of guilt or innocence to the appeals court in this specific instance. I do believe though that Cardinal Pell is an enabler and covered-up these pedophile priests and religious. He did so to avoid scandal but also even more so to prevent the church from possible financial ruin that would come from lawsuits. As such he was acting more as a Churchman and not a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus warned us against the rich and well to do and to settle quickly with your opponent or you will have to settle in court where you will have to pay to your last penny. Cardinal Pell instead again chose the path of the brash and the big-mouthed and now is paying because many in his country seem him as a bully and are pushing back against him now in the court of law. Sad day for everyone as justice gets mired in religious cupidity, stupidity, arrogance, accountability, and an unjust clericalism and is a far cry from proclaiming God's love, truth, justice and salvation for us and the world. The Church needs to admit its guilt and complicity totally in this heinous crime naming both the pedophile religious and their enablers. And should pay the just price as determined by law and righteousness for what was done in robbing these children of their souls and psychological well-being. It is about justice for these children.

Dr Robert Dyson
6 months 2 weeks ago

But nothing of what you say bears on the question of whether Cardinal Pell is guilty of the offences of which he has been accused

J Jones
6 months 3 weeks ago

Self deleted

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