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Pell: Nothing to see here, look over there

Cardinal George Pell has, in the face of fresh allegations of sexual abuse of children aired by ABC TV’s 7.30 Report this week, demanded a “probe” into what he perceives to be a conspiracy between the Victoria Police and the ABC to “pervert the course of justice” using a “trial by media” to establish his guilt before the matters are afforded due process.

I’m calling bollocks. Everything aired thus far by ABC TV has come directly from the complainants, Pell’s alleged victims. We have watched them give excruciating accounts of their experiences, and the effects those experiences have had on their lives. There are no police “leaks” in these first-hand accounts.

Anyone is at liberty to speak about his or her experiences at the hands of another, and we have defamation laws that deal with false claims.

There is no indication that Victoria Police have provided the ABC with information other than that they are pursuing their inquiries into the allegations, and that the matters have been referred to the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions where it will be decided whether or not charges are to be brought against the cardinal.

There is no legal requirement to protect Pell from identification. There are no minors involved in the complaints: they are historical. The ABC has offered Pell every opportunity to respond, and have published his responses on their website.

As long as the law permits the identification of alleged perpetrators, media outlets are at liberty to name them. This may or may not be fair: it is legal.

Pell’s position is no different from that of any other alleged perpetrator of historical sexual crimes against children in this country. Such people are identified in the media, and their alleged victims are frequently interviewed by the media. Police announce that they are pursuing lines of inquiry, and charges may or may not be brought. The Cardinal isn’t being granted, and should not be granted, any special favours or protections, neither is he being unfairly pursued.

The fact is, people continue to make complaints about Pell, and these complaints have to be investigated. Our justice system does not require the complaints be kept secret until they are proven or dismissed.

Like any other alleged perpetrator, Pell has to endure public curiosity and judgement, not because of any conspiracy, but because that is how our society works.

There are no doubt many benefits that go with being a prince of the catholic church. There are also responsibilities and intense scrutiny. The Vatican has deep pockets and should Pell choose to bring a defamation action against his accusers, lack of money will be no barrier to that pursuit. The Cardinal has on more than one occasion threatened legal action of this nature. It is still an option open to him if he feels himself to be a victim.

This post was first published on No Place for Sheep

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  1. Labor4EVA

    Pell the look of guilt

  2. Alan Baird

    Your header said it all: “Nothing to see here, look over there”. The politics of mass distraction. Call me thick but I can’t understand why George seemed so reluctant to expedite inquiries into priestly kiddy-fiddlers over decades. Oh, you mean it could have included him and mightn’t have stemmed just from concern for the oh so holy church! It’ll now be harder to invoke respect and gravitas by use of his usual sonorous tones. Of course, he’s looking for backup from the usual right wing media such as Tone used to do by bad-mouthing the “biased” ABC, a cheap shot that creates its own odium on its perpetrator. It’s always interesting how BALANCED the ABC is compared with the Right Wingnuts’ fervid fanatical support of the Liberal Party. Another delicious dose of schadenfreude, especially after Georges unwonted forays into climate science. Gerard Henderson will be spewin’. Mmm, that feels good too. How are the mighty…

  3. townsvilleblog

    Pell may be a lot of things but he’s not stupid. He understands that if there were any evidence of his misdeeds it would have surfaced long before now, a photo, anything. He knows it’s just their word against his. To prosecute people the prosecution does require evidence and Pell knows there is none, which is why he just says he deserves a “fair go.”

  4. paulwalter

    It gets late in the day for Pell…nowhere left to run away and hide, so he is reduced to the employ of the old and stale meme of ABC “leftism” bashing.


  5. Deidre Zanker


  6. Deanna Jones

    Priests are, statistically, no more likely to prey on children than judges or teachers, sporting coaches etc. But the church does seem to provide a very unique sort of haven for them, after the fact.

    Alan, I share your sentiments but ask you to reconsider the use of the trivialising term ‘kiddy fiddler’. We need to call these people out for what they are; child rapists.

  7. TuffGuy

    Coincidentally or not he is also the Mad Monk’s right hand man. What does that tell you?

  8. 1petermcc

    Rather than “Pell knows there is none”, I would suggest he knows any misdeeds are hard to prove. The recent case was a classic example of this. Where Pell and his supporters consistently and incorrectly claim he was cleared of any wrong doing, in actually fact the outcome was “not enough evidence to safely prosecute the case”. The finding also mentioned that the complainant was credible.

    That’s a long way from the “not guilty” often claimed.

    It’s worth taking a look at Fr Brenan’s FB page to see classic examples of denial of Pell’s position. Some even going as far as to claim Pell is blameless for his failure to do his job. Anyone who saw George admit he refused to take action to save the little boy’s brother from a pedophile Priest must also be a stone cold person lacking normal human responses to the sexual abuse of children.

    Clearly there is a flaw in the makeup of a chap who can ignore the pleas of a child when he was the person who should be taking action. Prior to the Cardinal’s video evidence I was of the opinion that the problems of the Church might be solvable with his assistance, but as soon as I saw that I realized he is actually a seriously flawed character.

    I’m still waiting to see him open the files of the serial sex offenders still hiding in his organization. After all, he did promise to do so during his first sitting before the Commission. An offer that was immediately rejected by the current Pope.

  9. randalstella

    Fairness is not the technical insertion of the word ‘alleged’ here and there. That is cynicism mocking fairness as something your target does not deserve.

    If ever you are falsely accused of something, and the accusations persist despite your truthful denials, keep in mind your reassuring advice posted just above: you can always use the law on defamation to protect yourself and redeem your name. Let me say bollocks to that. Let me say bollocks to that particularly when the allegations are very personal, such as sexual crime. Try ‘winning’ on that case.

    Under another piece on Pell here there is the disturbing claim that the presumption of innocence is a mere legal technicality that no moraliser need concern herself with. That’s a much bigger danger to law and morality than George Pell. It can be bunged on against anyone you – or a horde of you – just happen not to like.

    There is a long-established site called Catholica where most contributors are older Catholic faithful. The site has been naturally dominated over recent years by the issues of sexual molestation and the Church’s cover-up. The posters there have less than a fondness for George Pell, of his authoritarian approach to all aspects of belief and Church membership. They know a lot about Pell. They particularly disapprove of his administration of the many allegations of sex crime – his highhandedness and insularity in protection of people proved to be criminals, in some cases atrocious fiends.
    Proved. Know the difference.
    Yet compare this piece here above and other comments on this site with the cautious concerns of posters on Catholica. These people are a lot more informed about Pell, do not admire him, yet are able to reflect on the Media attitude that has already convicted him on mere allegations. As two legally experienced posters there advise, this latest splurge of Get-George is liable to undermine any fair proceeding of a trial.
    Any trial remains just some possibility. This latest sensation over Pell shows factually that he has not even been charged. It is a not unreasonable surmise that this is a way of damaging him despite the difficulty of proving allegations against him.

    The tactics of the Right in this country resolve into appalling relentless personal assassinations, sniping insatiably. They have destroyed the careers and thereby the contributions to the country of gifted and conscientious people. Their odious success is never an excuse for adopting the same, to get back on them.
    That’s the dystopia that Opinion promotes, as I mentioned last week when one poster to this site was being crowd-bashed by moralisers.

  10. Jaq

    If Cardinal Pell is indeed so outraged by the “Get George” sect of the community, then why doesn’t he come back to plead his case? There are allegations and then there are allegations. Why on earth would people be out “To Get” Cardinal of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, a faith that is about love and charity …cough cough..
    Further to that to say that his attitude of not being “interested” is merely “hIghhandedness” just is pitiful. “Little children suffer to come unto me” I do believe the saying was. With Pell this altogether takes on a more sinister meaning.

    I think the man doth protest too much….

  11. Jaq


    If he was truly innocent of all charges, he wouldn’t be hiding behind the skirts of Mother Church. He’s not only hiding in her skirts but in her knickers.

  12. keerti

    I suspect it all comes down to a misunderstanding of the phras.
    . Suffer the little children who…

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