George Pell

George Pell was human.  He committed two great wrongs.  He put the interests of himself and his church over the interests of children.  In the result, priests attacked and injured children in their care.  Theirs was the ultimate breach of trust.  They betrayed God, their church, and Pell.  But their worst crime was the betrayal of children.  Many victims saw their lives ruined.  And most of that ruin could have been avoided had Pell not betrayed the children too.

Then Pell joined with others to design and implement a scheme to deny proper compensation to the victims by putting the church beyond the reach of the due process of law.  This despicable abuse of power and wealth took us back to the time when Beckett told Henry II that the king had no power over the priests of the church.  For this arrogance, Thomas was murdered by friends of the king, and was made a saint in record time by organs of the Vatican.  And the English concluded that they must forever preclude agents of a church from interfering with their governance.  Which they proceeded to do in what is referred to as the Reformation.  (You may recall that Tony Abbott said it was a pity that Islam had not had one.)

We now have a better understanding of the misery wrought on children in the church and their families by these dreadful breaches of trust.  As it happens, all that Pell did to protect the church has come back to damn it.  That church now stands stained and disgraced.  In England now, more people attend mosques than Anglican churches, and that looks to happen here too with this church.

And yet when Pell died, some said that he was a good man, and a victim.  Go tell that to those who were buggered because Pell chose to look the other way.

The moral vacuum and blindness induced in the faithful by their embrace of the supernatural defies belief.  We are used to the lunacy of Abbott when it comes to faith. 

But Peter Dutton’s mind appears to be even more warped.  He chose the death of a prelate as the occasion to make a political statement.  He said that what happened to Pell in one of the cascades of legal cases brought on by the evil within the church suggested that Pell was persecuted by a state Labor government.  I will not insult your intelligence by dealing with what I regard as the most banal political statement I have ever seen.  It does suggest that Dutton is unfit for any office of trust.

But why concentrate on just one case when it is beyond doubt that Pell was responsible for so many others – and then defrauding the victims? 

And I am yet to hear the word ‘sorry’ for the fraud.  And I won’t.  Those withered male prelates in Rome are far too proud for that.

As to that one case, its justification is plain from the reaction of two juries and two justices on appeal.  Most people will be able to live with the fact that the High Court came to a different view, but I would be more comfortable with it if I thought that court had given more weight to two notions about our process in courts.  You must hear both sides – and I stress ‘hear’; and the most important person in the courtroom is the loser.  

The justices declined to hear the evidence of the victim.  They were not there, they said, to duplicate the function of the jury.  That may be so, but what about the rights, interests and expectations of the parties?

 How does the victim feel?  Those who heard him believed him.  Those who did not hear him said the jury was wrong and then put the victim down. 

This doesn’t sound right.  And that was certainly not the best way to dispose of a red-hot burning issue that continues to agitate the Queen’s peace in Australia.  Their Honours look to have been both cold and cavalier. 

And the deployment of the epithet ‘specious’ does nothing to dispel the aura of aloofness.  It is one thing to lose a case.  It is another to hear your argument dismissed as ‘plausible, apparently sound or convincing, but in reality, sophistical of fallacious.’ 

And you cop ‘sophistical’ when your enemy is a prince of the church built on the teaching of Augustine and Aquinas.  A cardinal of the Church of Rome who was kept out of the witness box by the best lawyers that money can buy.  After you got the third degree in court from them for hours and days.  To give evidence that those who decided to release the cardinal disdained to hear. 

You were not broken.  He was not even tested.

No, your Honours – there are times in the law when mere logic is not enough.  What did that man do to cop all this – for nothing – but more pain, and the endless hurt of injustice?

But that one case, sensational as it was, is a distraction from the much wider wrongs of which Pell was guilty beyond doubt.  That some of the faithful now look on Pell as some kind of victim, or even a winner, shows that the power of religious faith and dogma to warp minds has not changed since the fall and rise of a saint in the Middle Ages. 

Nor has our need to ensure that it does not pollute our governance.

Child abuse – Roman Catholic Church – High Court – due process.

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