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In which Pell crosses to the other side of the road

Over the last few days of his questioning at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, Cardinal George Pell demonstrated the opposite of what his saviour, Jesus Christ, taught about helping those in need. Pell has proved himself to be about as far from the Good Samaritan as it is possible to get:

Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

In his lack of action on the sexual abuse of children that occurred under his nose, Pell took the position of the Levite and the priest in the parable, and crossed to the other side of the road. Pell didn’t perceive it to be his in his job description that he was required to take any action on their behalf, or indeed, to even acquaint himself with the nature of the abuses to which they were subjected.

It is a powerful indictment of the Catholic church globally that such a man is reputedly the third “most important” member of it.

This church obsessively occupies itself with what it perceives as the sins of homosexuality, abortion and still, in some parts of the world, the sin of contraception. Yet it is, apparently, incapable of adequately acknowledging and addressing the crimes against humanity committed under its aegis, on the bodies and minds of children in its care.

I’m not a follower of religion, but the above biblical extract seems to me to apply to anyone, not simply “believers” who imagine rewards in an afterlife. This is what makes Jesus interesting: so much of what he reportedly stated is basic decency. It is on this level that Pell is an abysmal failure, and that failure is compounded by his life’s dedication to a religious organisation founded on belief in Christ’s teachings.

For all his learning, for all the masses he has and will continue to celebrate and participate in, Cardinal Pell has failed on the most fundamental level of human decency. He’s crossed to the other side of the road when he saw a child enduring dreadful suffering, not once but innumerable times. This shepherd showed absolutely no mercy to the most vulnerable in his flock.

He could have done otherwise. Had he spoken out, he almost certainly would not be the third most important catholic in the world. But he might be a decent human being.

I think we can all guess at what Jesus would have said to the Cardinal, and it wouldn’t have been, “good chap, you followed canon law to the letter”.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.



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  1. Kaye Lee

    In 2010, Pope Bendict XVI said it was acceptable to use a prophylactic when the sole intention was to “reduce the risk of infection” from Aids.

    While he restated the Catholic Church’s staunch objections to contraception because it believes that it interferes with the creation of life, he argued that using a condom to preserve life and avoid death could be a responsible act – even outside marriage.

    Asked whether “the Catholic Church is not fundamentally against the use of condoms,” he replied: “It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution. In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality.”

    He stressed that abstinence was the best policy in fighting the disease but in some circumstances it was better for a condom to be used if it protected human life.

    Humane sexuality?

  2. Stove-pipe

    The Catholic Church was not founded on the teachings of Jesus. The Romans were intrigued by the level of control offered by the instigation of an orthodox religion statewide. 2000 years later, I reckon they were onto something.

  3. Miriam English

    How I wish the vile Old Testament had been dropped from the Bible, and that instead of accepting the writings of unpleasantly neurotic Paul of Tarsus, they’d instead used Pellagius’ writings. We would see then a Christian church that was honestly concerned with people doing genuine good to each other, without these weird obsessions about sex, guilt, hierarchy, and money.

    But they didn’t. Notice how, when reprehensible Christians quote from the Bible, they always choose stuff from either the Old Testament or Paul’s books? When honest Christians quote from the Bible, they tend to avoid the Old Testament and Paul’s crap.

  4. gee

    the Catholic Church has been a corrupted political institution from the time of Constantine onwards.

  5. Adrianne Haddow

    Given Pope Francis’ concern for the ordinary people in the church, one wonders who is protecting Pell?
    The practice of confession and absolution of sins has given these men a mental ‘get out of jail’ card for any wrong they do.
    In their minds, at least.

  6. longwhitekid

    Pell this last week has already gone down in history as one of the of the most evil people in the history of our country. He is up there with the worst mass murderers Australia has ever known. More that fifty men alone in his home town have died over this issue. Here’s hoping there’s a hell because he will surely burn in it for an eternity if there’s any justice.

  7. terry

    only one logical answer why pell never said anything is that they were all into the little boys club , no wonder he wont travel back to the country , be somebody getting paid hush money still and has put it behind them , don’t need the press . sure pell picked his target well . only economics 101

  8. terry

    how disgusted would your family be pell , low life lump of shit

  9. kerri

    Jennifer Wilson you have chosen the exact parable to mirror Pell’s selfishness and complete narcissism.
    I had forgotten the Good Samaritan. An apt metaphor.
    I am not religious either but had a semi religious education and so many of Jesus teachings are forgotten by the modern church. Theology seems to be study and learn but don’t put into practice for many. With the notable exception of the Gosford Anglican church.

  10. Keitha Granville

    The good Samaritan has always been a great story – what a shame most of our leaders, not just Cardinal Pell, fail to live by it. And most of them supposedly “believers”. It makes one cringe when they are shown attending church for various reasons. They should all be struck off.

    Is it possible to believe in the things Jesus tried to teach without being a believer in God ? I think that’s me. I would be sure to attend church if I lived in Gosford ! I think Jesus was just a decent bloke who tried to get others to be decent too.

  11. amca01

    The parable is even better than that: we tend to think of “good Samaritan” as anybody who does a good deed. But the Samaritans (who still exist, although in small numbers) were at the time of the New Testament an enemy race of the Jews, and people of each side were forbidden to even speak to each other. So in the parable the “neighbour” – the person you should love with all your heart and soul as yourself – is in fact a bitter enemy of your own people. How many modern “Christians” love their enemies as themselves, I wonder?

  12. paul walter

    Smart comment, amca01…

  13. RosemaryJ36

    If you have not yet seen “Spotlight” please do. Specially recommended if you were brought up in the Catholic faith!

  14. RosemaryJ36

    Keitha – you can. You would be an agnostic who believes in living ethically!

  15. Michael

    Before humans – no religion
    Religion is a human construct
    Human construct can be re/de/constructed
    Preach virtues (good) and leverage fear of unknown/not understood = gates to unchallenged/unaccountable power, influence, miracles, heaven, hell and automatic intellectual/ethical/logical stuntedness if not blindness.
    A business model for every occasion!

  16. Matters Not

    Michael said:

    Before humans – no religion

    Go further. Before humans, there were no ‘words’ and therefore no’ ‘concepts’ in daily use such as ‘religion’, ‘education’, ‘health’, ‘safety’ and the like. But you do go on.

    Religion is a human construct

    Indeed. It follows. If ‘religion’ is not a ‘human construct’, then whose ‘construct is it? Is it a ‘gift’ from the ‘gods’ we constructed? (And so on.)

    Human construct can be re/de/constructed

    Anyone want to argue against that? To suggest otherwise would be a bit of a stretch.

    Feel free. Construct your own ‘reality’.

    And of course you will, whether you realise it or not.

    Good post Michael. Food for thought. And all that.

  17. Michael Taylor

    Marx is often credited with this quote, but I think he ‘borrowed’ it of Newton: “God didn’t create man. Man created God”.

  18. Miriam English

    You can safely assume you have created God in your own image
    when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
    — Anne Lamott

    Either God wants to abolish evil and cannot, or he can but does not want to.
    Is God willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
    — Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

    Let’s say there’s some powerful big ol’ God that created everything. He must be a moron because somehow he gave everyone a different idea of what he wants. I mean if you’re omnipotent, the least you could do is tell us which holy book to read. He can’t even get the little crap right.
    — Stacey in “The Religion War” by Scott Adams

    Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense. They thrive on servility and shrink before independence.”
    — Chapman Cohen

  19. Deanna Jones

    Yes man created god for man’s own benefit.

    I thought that the bible was written many centuries after Jesus was supposed to have existed.

  20. nurses1968

    Ms Furness assisting the Royal Commission: And human beings talk among themselves about their colleagues, don’t they, Cardinal?
    Cardinal-Prefect George Pell: Human beings in different categories have very different approaches to these matters. We work within a framework of Christian moral teaching. {Loud burst of laughter from people in Rome interview room} Pardon?
    Ms.Furness: And what does that mean –
    Cardinal Pell: Would you like me to continue?
    Ms.Furness: I would, indeed.
    [Based on Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Day 160 transcript of hearing webcast, 1 March 2016]

    I share the dismay and disgust of a great many people, Catholics and others, with the Cardinal’s display…..
    It’s made plain to the world who he is and what he’s like…..
    I’ve known Cardinal Pell for over 30 years and I really think he is one of the best developed narcissists I’ve met in my life…..
    astonishing the way he can deploy his insensitivity, he seems impervious to human experience…..
    a big man and a big bully…..
    [Father Michael Kelly SJ, 702ABCSydney interview on the subject of Cardinal Prefect George Pell’s evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 3 March 2016]

  21. Kaye Lee

    Pell has given an interview to Andrew Bolt. He is completely absolving himself of any blame. If I was a victim I would be really angry about this interview which I am listening to as we speak. He is saying there is not a shred of evidence of a cover-up. He is saying the witnesses lied.

  22. Michael Taylor

    And Bolt bought it, I assume.

  23. Kaye Lee

    He’s saying how hard it has been for him. I feel like slapping him. He’d “like to be given a fair go.”

  24. Michael Taylor

    Who? Bolt or Pell?

  25. Kaye Lee


  26. Kaye Lee

    Part of his defence for saying “I wasn’t interested in that” about Ridsdale was, “19 and a half hours is pretty gruelling.”

    I think he said that on day two? and if it was so gruelling, how come he is sitting there for an hour being grilled by Andrew Bolt answering what are pretty direct questions. Much more intense and rapid fire than at the RC and with no legal rules.

  27. Kaye Lee


    that twitter is a very selective quote and not contextual. Those statements didn’t directly follow each other

    He sure doesn’t look sick. he said “the medication is helping”. But then went on to say he had had two falls.

    I have to say, Bolt asked a lot of good questions but Pell seems far from tired or sick, he is positively feisty – interrupting very keen to get his side across.

  28. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee
    “that twitter is a very selective quote and not contextual”
    I don’t take much notice of the goings on of the god botherers , just liked the tweet
    I take even less notice of Bolt ..or Hadley..Devine …Jones etc

  29. jeffrey

    Recently watched ‘zeitgeist’.

    Seems jesus is the same idealized character as the egyptian sun god Horus. 4000 years prior to jesus.
    The same characterisation occurs in many religious cultures having similar characteristics. Ie birth 25th dec, virgin birth etc.
    The cross comes from the equinox of the zodiac. The centre of which is the sun (son).

    A lot of Christian ideology and that of many other religions is related to the egyption gods.

    I acknowledge the information I am relaying is mostly from the ‘zeitgeist’ film. But this had far more logic than many other explanations that I have endured.

  30. Florence nee Fedup

    Why does Pell protest so much? Seems he still has learnt nothing. Pell has made it about him not the children. Why?

  31. Nato

    Florence nee FedupMarch 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm
    “Why does Pell protest so much? ”
    because the only reason you could think he is guilty is if you hate, I mean genuinely HATE, Christians and Christianity.
    Honesty is a bad thing to bad people.

  32. Miriam English

    Jeffrey, a lot of those have been presented by a long line of authors, but one of the latest is D.M. Murdock. Sadly, she died of breast cancer in December 2015. She wrote a lot of scholarly books on many religions, trying to understand the origins of their myths. Much of what is said at the beginning of the Zeitgeist movie comes directly from her work. Her books carefully document everything with copious footnotes and mountains of references.

    Stellar House Publishing Books & eBooks

    It is fascinating how many parallels there are between the various major religions and how thoroughly messed up they all are. Christianity comes from Sun worship. You can still see some aspects of it in the circle of light around the holy in their pictures and iconography and their frequent references to the sun and the light.

    Christianity originally had a holy couple — a male and a female god, but something happened and all the female images, idols, etc. were fanatically destroyed. She was almost completely erased from the writings too, though you can still find oblique references to Asherah, the tree.

    What I recommend to most Christian believers is for them to actually read their Bible — not just the parts the preachers recommend, but all of it. It is the best way to break the hold Christianity has on a person’s mind. See all the hate and murder in the Old Testament; put the two contradictory Genesis accounts side by side, and do the same to the apostles’ accounts. The clangers become glaring.

    It is also interesting to dig up some of the original books that were removed from the Bible soon after the Romans adopted Christianity (you can find many of the pseudepigrapha at http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/ ). Those books sometimes have stuff that actually makes more sense of the Bible’s crazier bits. For instance the nutty remnants of the story of Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden… In the original version the “fruit of the tree of knowledge” was not an actual fruit, but referred to learning about agriculture — they chopped down the forests and destroyed the garden of Eden. But we couldn’t have the church speaking against agriculture, so it was removed. (I can’t remember which account I read that in. It was a long time ago.)

  33. Miriam English

    Nato, do you mean that only those who hate Christians and Christianity would disbelieve Pell? Or are you making a joke?

    If you are serious, please note that large numbers of devout Christians are very upset at Pell’s betrayal of them and their religion. Also, that most atheists, while spurning religion, nevertheless have many friends who are religious.

  34. jeffrey

    Thanks Miriam.
    I’m not against learning history, but if I was to apply further effort to history it would have to focus on the new discoveries of ancient Egypt.

    My interest in religion is mostly on the continued overt influence on a modern global/political society.

  35. pippilongstocking

    ditto terry march 2016 11.20am

  36. Pippin Baker

    i can only echo what Terry said March 4th 20016 11.20am. Pell’s polluted explanations beggar belief, how did he claw his way to the top?Did he pay or play?

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