Contributed by Jim Hayes
Cardinal George Pell has been a media celebrity for a good many years and this is for bad reasons. For much of this time, it has been over a mountain of allegations over protection of priests in the Catholic church abusing children. Then he faced his own personal accusations of sexual misconduct.
The 76-year old Pell faces charges over multiple offenses accusing him of over sexual misconduct, committed at a Ballarat swimming pool during the 1970’s.
Regardless of his innocence or guilt, he has already been tired by media, and this makes it very difficult for him, when he faces a jury. But before we start feeling too sorry for him, it must be said that he has brought this on himself.
Pell denied that there were predators on children in the church for a long time. When, in the face of overwhelming evidence and it was no longer possibly to deny, he chose to do everything he could to misuse his authority as the head of the Church in Australia, to be continually evasive and do everything he could, to block investigation. In doing so, he diminished the standing of the institution.
In one sense this is unfair, because these predatory attacks are more widespread than the Catholic Church. It exists in other faiths. Even so, the Catholic Church cannot escape its own blame. It has the responsibility to acknowledge wrongdoing in its house and to do everything it can to make amends.
As Church leader, George Pell has had a special personal responsibility to do the right thing, and he failed miserably in his duty, to become one of the most infamous people in the country. Not only here. He has become a worldwide symbol of a gross failure of duty of care, and when he gets headlines here, they go global. Even more so, since he became a Cardinal stationed at the Vatican.
Whatever the outcome of the trial, the Church must still right he wrong. The victims have a right to justice. Perpetrators still within, must still be cleared out and made accountable. Unless this is done, the rot will continue.
Suggestions are already being made that Pell will be demoted. He should be removed from any active role in the Church. Doing this will sent a signal that it is prepared to act in a proper way. Failure to so this, will make people believe that the history of cover ups and evasions is going to continue.