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A Survivor’s message to Cardinal George Pell

By ‘BB‘.

Tying you to the stake of your own inadequacies would probably do no good, George … but I do have a few things to say to your ‘eminence’.

Right now* as you sit on that ‘duck and weave’ stool in that room in Rome, right now as I listen to your testimony … I had thought that my anger had gone. After a lifetime of remedial healing I thought that my anger had gone. I was wrong.

I would like you to consider this:

We don’t call ourselves Survivors just for the fun of it. We call ourselves Survivors because we have managed to struggle through our lives without taking that ultimate choice … that ultimate choice of killing ourselves.

In that sense at least, for those of us that have survived, we have beaten the predations of your priests.

Do you realise, George, that when we came into your orphanages as young children we were already in a highly anxious and vulnerable state? We were the product of broken homes.

We were cast adrift from any notion of security and placed into an environment with less emotional succouring than that possessed by the cold hard impersonal vacuum of bloody space. We knew the starkness of aloneness.

And then, on top of it all, along came your priests …

Damage done. Damage compounded. And we have spent the majority of the rest of our lives trying to do the undoable … trying to undo the damage done.

We have lived our lives in a state of high anxiety. We have lived our lives trying to struggle out from beneath the weight of an enforced emotional stuntedness. We have spent far too many of our days hardly being able to breathe.

We have lost years to pain self-medication. We have had to continually ravage our scant energy reserves to hold at bay the scourge of depression.

As much as we have tried to hold on to them we have, invariably, lost relationships that were dear to us. The emotional adequacy required to hold on to those relationships was ripped away from us in childhood. Ripped away by your priests.

Many of us have not survived long enough to write such a letter as this. In writing this letter to you I am using the name ‘BB’. I am using that name because I don’t wish to be made a cause ‘band-wagon’ by anyone. But behind BB stands a real person. Behind BB stands a Survivor. Behind BB stands ME.

So yes, George, I am looking straight at you. I am angry. I am very angry.

It is the anger of a lifetime lost.

And now … and now you sit on that seat in Rome and you duck and weave. And you say that our stories are of no particular ‘interest’ to you.

Well, my story, and the story of other Survivors, I can well assure you, George, is of paramount bloody importance to me.

So … for once in your life, Cardinal George Pell … get your comfortable protected arse up off that bloody chair and start telling the TRUTH.

* Pell’s testimony in Rome has just finished … I have my own feelings about his statements:


So ends the testimony of one Cardinal George Pell.

So, back to the safety of the Vatican apartments slinks that little ecumenical mind.

So, unrealised, remains the potential of that Roman interrogative chair.

So, for us Survivors

More Silence.



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  1. Not On

    BB. Thank you for your heartfelt message. Too often we are seen as disfunctional adults and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been told “Just forget about it”. “let it go”. “Don’t think about it”. but what people don’t realise is that it is in the very core of you. No matter how many times we are told it is not our fault we are still ingrained with the thoughts that somehow we are to blame. I have, for over 50 years, tried to come to the realisation that nothing I did caused what happened to me. But the shame and the anger sits at the bottom of my heart just waiting to be released. It has affected my life in so many ways that now, for me, I am almost a hermit.

    I no longer wish to put myself forward for love or affection as I know that in some way I will damage it. For the past 25 years I have not permitted myself to love or be a friend in the knowledge that I am so damaged it will eventually fail. I have had counselling for many years but the pain and the loss of any form of a satisfactory life is overwhelming.

    When I went through the Melbourne Response they twisted my words and their only concern was that I was no longer a practicing catholic. They thought that was incredibly sad. Not the fact that I had been so brutally damaged, but that I no longer believed in god. I received a small sum of compensation that paid for a year or so of counselling but has done nothing to compensate for the loss of a life I should have had.

    I don’t mean to take away from your post and am grateful that you shared your anger with us, I only wish to let you know that you are not alone in that anger and loss you feel and there are more of us out here who will forever be grateful for those who went to Rome to make Pell face up to the human aspect of what was done.

    I hope some day you find some peace.

  2. Wally

    Well written BB.

    I think we are all insulted by people like Pell who claim to be Christians.

  3. Jaq

    I felt so incredibly angry listening to the lying prick get away with something tantamount to murder, because through his gross negligence, that’s what he did, regardless of whether victims killed themselves or not. And then to have the survivors snubbed by the “wonderful”Pope Francis , and for the Vatican to release a statement saying they virtually admired the way in which Pell conducted himself was the final slap in the face. However, the World has seen and passed judgement on Pell- and I should think, the Vatican, in the graceless way they have handled this whole dirty business.
    You can guarantee that the more stories come to light, the worse possible spotlight will be shone on these people. They are not the morality police any longer. They are losing their grip. I take comfort in the fact that it is obvious the Vatican is a cesspit, and they are now leaking members who look at the evidence and say I will not be a part of this . Where else would someone like Pell fit in so snugly but somewhere so full of vileness? He did not get ahead by being competent, or by charisma that much is clear. Someone somewhere knows, and the truth will out. In the meantime know there are thousands looking your way and thinking about you, and the people like you whose lives have been ruined, or cut short through the pain. Its taken time but we are hearing you, we believe you, and one day you will be vindicated.

  4. jim

    I would very much like to know why the police at the time did next to nothing? government orders perhaps?

  5. RosemaryJ36

    BB and his fellow survivors are actually champions in putting themselves through the trauma of giving evidence at the Royal Commission hearings.

    A reported interview with Pell records:

    ‘Cardinal Pell said he hoped the Australian public would give both him and the church “a fair go”.

    “I hope that they will understand the truth of the situation. I fully concede the terrible crimes that have happened,” he said.

    “I’d like them to give me a fair go … everybody needs a fair go, and certainly the Catholic Church is entitled to that.”‘

    Quite apart from what has happened in Australia, “Spotlight” highlights the fact that the problem is not a small, local one – it is endemic and the Church is NOT entitled to anything until it shows an ability to deal with the matter.

    Celibacy must go.

    Women must have a proper place – if they really and sincerely feel they can believe in a God and also work within a corrupt institution like the Catholic Church.

    I did have some respect for Pope Francis (I hasten to add that I have never been a Catholic and am now an agnostic!) and suspect that the Vatican mafia intercepted the request for a meeting with the survivors who went to Rome.

    We must keep this issue in the SPOTLIGHT until the church acts and reforms in a realistic way.

  6. Salstarat

    First of all, I would like to commend you, BB and all the other survivors of the Catholic Church’s unspeakable callous disregard for the safety and well being of vulnerable little children, you are indeed heroic, brave and courageous survivors of the worst, most heinous crime in the world: the savage murder of a childhood! The loathsome Cardinal Pell and his despicable, ungodly protection and support of some of this country’s most horrific paedophiles, eg the slimy grub, Ridsdale, John Day and many others, can NEV ER be forgiven nor condoned. He lives in a narrow world of self-delusion, lying to everyone in the same tragic way he has lied to himself. If there IS a hell, I hope this paedophile protecting psychopath who fails to hide his guilt behind a clerical collar, ends up in it along with his mates, Ridsdale, Day et al.

  7. margcal

    There have been apologies from the Catholic Church from time to time. Some of them could have won Oscars for (screen) writing. Some of them could have won Oscars for best actor.
    When I was at Catholic school we learned the phrase “Faith without works is dead” – i.e. we must feed the hungry, support the poor, the sick, etc – all the things our “Christian” parliamentarians vote “not” to do.

    A corollary to the statement I learned is this: “An apology without change is worthless” – and that’s how the Catholic Church has continued to behave – say sorry (only occasionally) and business as usual. That Rome could praise Pell in his giving evidence is proof, not that further proof was needed.

    Catholic Christians have practised their faith in spite of their leaders for most of history. But this era really is one out of the box.

  8. ranterulze

    I was a catholic who believed everything they told me. I believed baby Jesus was watching over me and I talked to him every night. I trusted the parish priest, although I never liked him. I trusted the Marist Brothers. I don’t know if I was lucky or what but I was not molested and until recently believed that no one I knew was molested either. But when this Royal Commission got some airplay, people talked more freely. I discovered that my brother in law, my cousin and even my sister had all been victims. Now I am absolutely totally horrified by all of it. I’ve looked at the Broken Rites website and read many blogs and comments by Survivors. I can hardly believe it but know it’s true.

    I wish I’d never believed them. The nuns and the brothers and the priests. It’s as if my own belief and trust in Holy Church contributed to all that abuse and cover up.

    I’m sorry BB, and all the rest of you, because my ignorance and silence has also contributed to your pain. It doesn’t matter all that much whether George Pell himself was a paedopohile – he was an important figure of power and influence, a mover and shaker within the machinery, and he needs to come clean, completely, no cover ups like that ridiculous Bolt interview. Otherwise he will burn in Hell. I still believe in that bit.

  9. ella

    ranterulze “he will burn in Hell” I only wish it were true!!!!
    I watched the the whole farce.
    My impression is that GP has no empathy, no conscience, I sometimes wondered if he actually believes in God with all the half truths he told.
    He is well suited to the cold hard area of finance …money is all they understand.

    It makes me sad to say the above when I remember a priest in Merrylands NSW who really walked the walk and talked the talk.
    BUT that was sooo long ago.
    Religion as such has lost all its meaning for me, especially when I think and look around the world and see all the evil being done in the name of religion.

  10. Kaye Lee


    My husband and I have been living together for almost forty years and, whilst I knew some of the stories of his time at a Catholic boarding school, watching Pell has prompted him to tell me more that he had tried to forget. It is absolutely inconceivable that Pell did not know what was going on. His answer that no-one asked him to do anything is unacceptable. This was not one or two priests or brothers who made a poor choice – it was a widespread culture of the physical and sexual abuse of children that was tolerated by the church. Children who told parents were often disbelieved – “don’t be ridiculous, they are religious men”. I commend the courage of those who have spoken out so this never happens again. I know how hard that must have been to relive things you would much rather forget.

    BB I hope you have found love and peace for they will always be more powerful than fear.

  11. cornlegend

    Vatican on the Purification Of Memory:

    Liberation from the weight of this responsibility comes above all through imploring God’s forgiveness for the wrongs of the past, and then, where appropriate, through the “purification of memory” culminating in a mutual pardoning of sins and offenses in the present.
    Purifying the memory means eliminating from personal and collective conscience all forms of resentment or violence left by the inheritance of the past, on the basis of a new and rigorous historical-theological judgement, which becomes the foundation for a renewed moral way of acting. This occurs whenever it becomes possible to attribute to past historical deeds a different quality, having a new and different effect on the present, in view of progress in reconciliation in truth, justice, and charity among human beings…..


    sick bastards

  12. G. Pell

    thats a sad story, but it doesnt interest me very much.

  13. Rotha

    It occurs to me that George Pell is behaving very much like a survivor of sexual abuse himself. The coolness, arrogance, the detachment, the seeming not to care looks like a person who has himself managed to blank off part of his emotional life, his painful experience. His career has blossomed because he has served the church hierarchy,
    Now he is in a position of power, one hopes that he can help survivors. But can he help The Catholic Church?
    This old and powerful institution has been abusing many of its communicants for a long long time.

  14. Maureen Walton (@maureen_walton)

    Thank you for sharing your article and some of your heart feelings. I cry everytime I hear of an abused child. We all should be happy and free as children. Not have dirty old men who hide under a collar or dress and make out they are Gods chosen who allow or commit Rape and Abuse on Innocent children.

    I have not been inside a Catholic church because of all of this for many years now. I was brought up as a strict Catholic, but I am so angry that I was told that I would burn in Hell and scared out of my mind because of the bad things that would happen to me if I was ever bad or lied. Whilst some Priests were raping children. Shame on them and all who knew.

  15. Pingback: World Spotlight on Australia’s Cardinal Pell at Rome Child Sexual Abuse Hearing · Global Voices

  16. Richard Mullins

    There is much more to the story. The anti-{ell hysteria is being whipped up by litigation lawyers. One such lawyer, the head of Kelso Lawyers, boast on their website that they have already got payouts of $65M without their clients even having to appear court. With such large amounts of money to tempt litigation lawyers, can we believe a word of their stories? I think the cathedral accusations against Pell are totally fake.

    Richard Mullins portal1943″

  17. corvusboreus

    Richard Mullins,
    Personally, I think that people who repeatedly cover up for the pedophilic crimes of others (as did Pell) should automatically remove some of their own presumption of innocence against subsequent accusations
    Thing is, your opinion and my opinion count for a fistful of farts in the eyes of a system of law based on evidence.

  18. Matters Not

    Richard Mullins re:

    There is much more to the story.

    Always is. Impossible to include each and every detail about past events but having said that have you more detail to add that goes beyond your belief about certain evidence that was accepted by a jury? If so – then fire away.

    As for:

    large amounts of money to tempt litigation lawyers, can we believe a word of their stories

    Perhaps you should ask the same question re Pell and his team which included some of the best (and highest paid) silks in the land? Or have you assumed one side (only) tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Presumably, that’s a belief as well? And pray tell, if Pell has been wrongly convicted and punished, then why has his Almighty refrained from intervention? Why no miracle(s) for Pell? Given Morrison’s God seems much more obliging when it comes to miracles, would you recommend a late-term conversion for George? If not, then why not? Desperate times, require desperate measures.

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