Dictator Dan Quits And Victoria Is Free...

With the resignation of Dan Andrews, Victorians can once again go to…

Tech Council of Australia Supports Indigenous Voice to…

Media Alert Canberra: Following the announcement of the referendum date, the Tech Council…

The Legacy of Daniel Andrews: Recognising the Good…

Today the impending retirement of Daniel Andrews – Labor Premier of Victoria…

Study reveals most common forms of coercive control…

Media Release A new study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and…

Great Expectations from the Summit of the G-77…

By Denis Bright The prospects for commitment to UN General Assembly’s sustainment development…

Imperial Footprints in Africa: The Dismal Role of…

No power in history has exercised such global reach. With brutal immediacy,…

Fascism is unlikely: idiocy is the real threat

The fight against domestic fascism is as American as apple pie. Even…

Murdoch: King Lear or Citizen Kane?

By guest columnist Tess Lawrence It may be premature to write Emeritus Chairman…


The Cardinal Can Do No Wrong: George Pell’s Defenders

The powerful have always had defenders. Power seeps into the system, corrupts, controls and, ultimately, assumes an authority that does wonders to destroy an appraisal of fairness. To be there is to assume that matters are natural, a habit. As David Hume made clear, such an instance creates the basis of error: because it has been accepted for generations and through precedent does not make it a law or an acceptable practice.

To be fair is, in a sense, to relinquish the advantages of power and accept the levelling nature of balance. To be fair is to understand power as a danger. For the highest cleric in the Catholic Church to receive a formal conviction in terms of historical child abuse is an example of bringing a certain power to account. “He did have in his mind,” observed the County Court’s chief judge Peter Kidd in the pre-sentence hearing, “some sense of impunity.”

The Pell conviction is also an example of defenders running to barricades in the name of protection, hoping that faith prevails over evidence, belief over the allegedly crude advances of the secular realm. As that philosopher of revolution Frantz Fanon appositely noted, those holders of a strong core belief, when “presented with evidence that works against that belief” repel what is placed before them. Cognitive dissonance must be avoided.

The issue for some of Pell’s defenders is not one of finding justice but its impossibility for those who see a being beyond capture, and past conduct beyond censure. Forget the victims and what the convicted person did to them. Some other ploy is at work.

Guy Rundle got heavy at Crikey, claiming that the conviction of Pell had to be a significant moment in the culture wars. “The full court press by Bolt, Henderson, Akerman, Devine et al marked them off pretty decisively from the parliamentary wing of the right (with the rule-proving exception of Craig Kelly), who were quick to ring-fence Pell from what remains of their politics.”

This has assumed fabulous contortions. To know a man is to presume an all-conquering, wilting innocence, pushing evidentiary findings to the outer limits. No legal system could possibly corrupt this personalised sense of he of certain cloth of Church; to have met a creature in garb, even not necessarily believing him, is to acknowledge a person as beyond guilt.

The matter must, therefore, be far more fundamental, a big picture plot as to why Pell must suffer. It might be the vengeful in search of a sacrificial lamb, the Cardinal’s conviction as a rite for purification. It might be the Church in search of a cleansing alibi. It is not possible to claim that Pell is guilty, shouts reactionary columnist Miranda Devine because no jury could possibly claim to be unbiased. Would that problem be alleviated by a jury of other peers, priests, maybe?

Devine, herself a Catholic, has never been shy to suggest a conspiracy. There is always something else at work. In 2017, she claimed in an off-the-edge tweet that Victoria’s Police Chief Graham Ashton was “desperate or a distraction from the crime epidemic he’s incapable of stopping”. Catholics, she suggested in the language of sectarian fear, were being hunted.

Andrew Bolt, who holds court at Sky News and The Herald Sun, similarly cannot fathom what has been done to the fallen cleric and assumes that self-opinion can become canonical. “Declaration: I have met Pell perhaps five times in my life and I like him,” admitted the one-dimensional polemicist. “I am not Catholic or even a Christian. He is a scapegoat, not a child abuser. In my opinion.”

The opinion caveat is important for Bolt. Having landed in hot water previously for not clarifying that his opinion as just that, the Federal Court gave him a good wrapping over the knuckles for what was, at its core, shoddy journalism on “White Aboriginals”. But on this occasion, the self-proclaimed rabble-rouser felt he was on to something. “Cardinal George Pell has been falsely convicted of sexually abusing two boys in their early teens. That’s my opinion, based on the overwhelming evidence.”

Not that Bolt actually saw the evidence or was exposed to it, but he is nonetheless content suggesting that the victims’ reluctance to initially report the abuse (has he any understanding of Church history?), and the business of the room where the abuse was said to have taken place, suggested innocence. Furthermore, “the man I know seems not just incapable of such abuse, but so intelligent and cautious that he would never risk his brilliant career and good name on such a mad assault in such a public place.” Bolt, ever the purveyor of the shallow view and ignorant formulation of human nature. Perhaps he suggests that the cleric was simply too intelligent to have been genuinely caught?

A dangerous twilight zone has developed. The critics have shown, in searing fashion, that they do not believe that guilt could ever be associated with certain figures of office. In this sense, they betray a posh-boy, aristocratic perversion: people of a certain class can never wrong; people of some groups (African migrants, for instance) always do. Kill, maim, rape and maul, yes, but never assume that any code, criminal or otherwise, applies to certain members.

This is entertaining if teasing idiocy. The very people who believe in necessary rules assume that these should be selectively applied. There have always been pleasant, decent murderers, but thinking otherwise changes it. There are entertaining child abusers of high standing, and thinking them charming and ambitious makes abuse improbable. There are bon vivant genocidal maniacs, dressed well and hoping for a historical kill, and thinking them good company turns them into miraculous innocents.

Such conduct, including messages of support from former Australian Prime Ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott, brings to mind the good character references, and beliefs, of the recently canonised Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta), who kept good company with the dictatorial likes of Jean-Claude Duvalier of Haiti, and swindling millionaires such as Charles Keating. The latter, an anti-pornographic crusader of frothing fanaticism, liked talking about God and family values even as he perpetrated financial fraud with sociopathic enthusiasm. The Saint simply believed they were incapable of crime. For some, that is all that matters, and laws should be best forgotten.

The process will have to run its course and the cardinal’s run of the legal system is far from over. Pell’s defence team will no doubt be reassessing the evidence with forensic aptitude, and point out errors or doubts. But that does not discredit a verdict arrived at through formal processes in the presence of a jury and a well summing up by the judge. The danger in such doubting circumstances is that those good souls who are duly selected to serve on a panel of peers are deemed, if not expendable, then dangerous to the health of the defendant.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button


Login here Register here
  1. Wat Tyler

    For my part, the very names of Pell’s defenders reinforce the jury’s verdict. Some of us would like to see some of THEM in the dock.

  2. Phil

    a thoroughly enlightening read – thank you Dr Binoy Kampmark – you never fail to skewer the issue with forensic accuracy and with superb turns of phrase.

  3. Zathras

    They are the first to condemn off-shore refugees accused of crimes but then defend someone who has actually been found guilty of a crime.
    Where were they when Rolf Harris and Bill Cosby (just to name a couple of other “nice guys”) were convicted?

    We should all remember this the next time conservatives try to lecture us on morality.
    Bolt, Devine, Abbott, Howard and Shelton have all spent decades attempting to place themselves in the centre of our moral universe. They tell us they fight for just causes and protect our most sacred institutions.

    However, when faced with a choice between protecting children or one of their own, they chose the convicted paedophile.

    It’s not Pell they are fighting for, it’s their “brand” and that’s the institute they are trying to protect. If one is shown to be “imperfect” it reflects on them all.

    Their actions have now demonstrated what sort of people they really are so thanks to them for removing any doubt.

  4. Alcibiades

    Church knew Pell was at centre of decades-old lurid sex claims 7 Mar 2019

    George Pell was accused in 1996 – the year he became Melbourne archbishop – of having had sex with trainee priests. The uncorroborated complaint was never finalised by the church …

    Cardinal Sin: Spare a thought for the victims in the George Pell case 3 Mar 2019

    However, little has been made of the testimony of the victim. There’s good reason for this — we know very little about it.

    What is clear, he must have been extraordinarily believable in that witness box.</BLOCKQUOTE>

    Andrew Bolt, please stop implying that you know all the facts about George Pell 4 Mar 2019

    Clare Linane, whose husband Peter Blenkiron is a survivor of clerical child abuse, writes in response to Andrew Bolt’s defence of George Pell

    Doubters’ outcry over Pell verdict disrespectful to jury, legal system March 3, 2019

    Was George Arthur Pell found guilty, “beyond reasonable doubt”, by a jury of his peers, of orally raping a 13-year-old boy and molesting another? Emphatically, yes.

  5. Rossleigh

    Using Andrew Bolt’s logic, if you’re accused of a crime a number of times and you get off, that gives you a get out of jail free card if you’re ever convicted!

  6. Luke

    Me thinks they protest to much, what are they hiding from their childhood?

  7. Kerri

    We are talking about a type of person who holds a steadfast belief in a man they can neither see, nor hear, but “feel”, deep in their hearts, exists. These are people capable of Orwell’s double think.
    There is a definite character type in these people, who in my opinion, are the most gullible whilst being upwardly mobile and somewhat sycophantic. Their belief is blind. Irrational. Anachronistic. Aspirational.
    They crave monetary, political and after-life rewards.
    They know not how to achieve these things because “the lord works in mysterious ways” and “the lord” controls their world.
    They do not believe that they, of their own volition, are capable of securing a better future.
    They rely on “faith”. And prayer. And huge donations.
    Without faith God ceases to exist.
    And the religious elites of the ilk of Pell, know this!
    It is their bread and butter.
    Or more likely their caviar and wine.

  8. Kerri

    Once a Catholic always a Catholic.
    The guilt is deeply ingrained and exceptionally hard to shake.

  9. David Bruce

    A power culture thrives on command and control. As a result, rape is part of the control system. The Catholic Church is not the only institute based on a power culture. As well as evident in most religions, power cultures were symptomatic in all armed forces, worldwide. The fact that people working in such cultures are reluctant to press charges indicates they fear victimization, expulsion or worse. The latest news from a female former USAF pilot is a perfect example.


  10. Alcibiades


    Once a Catholic always a Catholic.

    Respectfully, au contraire. The ever shrinking numbers who declare/self identify as Catholic in Oz, tell the tale.

    One was brought up a Catholic, under the Christian Brothers, in a doctrinaire rigidly devout Irish-Catholic family.

    Alas(?), as one was raised very strictly as a devout Catholic, one ceased by personal choice to NOT be one, from the moment of ones majority. Am hardly alone on that score.

    Australian Catholic University staff want Greg Craven disciplined over Pell support Guardian

    Australian Catholic University staff have called for their vice-chancellor and president, Greg Craven, to be disciplined after he publicly supported paedophile Cardinal George Pell and described his trial as unfair in an article for The Australian.

    Craven, who did not attend the trial and who has not seen the complainant’s evidence, in the meantime told university staff not to comment

    And, for the record …

    George Pell guilty: The 10 who wrote character references for Cardinal George Pell revealed The Age

    Former Prime Minister, John Howard … Vice chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Professor Greg Craven, AO … and … long-time friends of Pell, one of his cousins, his former private secretary and several figures from Catholic organisations were also among those who submitted glowing references to the court.

    Hm …

  11. pierre wilkinson

    a fitting commentary on a touchy subject – no pun intended –
    let us hope that the appeal is quashed

  12. Alcibiades

    David Bruce

    You don’t have to look overseas. Thousands upon thousands have suffered egregious abuse within Australia’s Defence Forces … not that many would even no of it.

    Upon taking office Abbott’s regime promptly turned the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) into a facsimile of Cardinal
    Pells ‘Melbourne Response’, in order to ‘shut up’ victims of abuse by the Australians Defence Force & the Department of Veterans Affairs going back decades. From cohorts of Army and Navy apprentices, some as young as 14 years old, recruits, thru to senior decorated officers as victims.

    The government deliberately failing to publicly communicate its fixed deadlines or even its existence effectively, let alone its interim & final reports. So that 5,500+ known victims of abuse were never considered, let alone ever granted even a pittance ex gratia payment. Shut out. Lives, careers, families destroyed, uncounted unrecorded suicides …

    It was constituted by the former Defence Minister under Labor, Stephen Smith(?). Against overwhelming resistance to the establishment of a Royal Commission into the abused victims over generations.

    The original Commissioner resigned after only 18 months …

    As is usual with any issue regarding servicemen/women, veterans, that doesn’t align with the exploitative & politicized jingoistic ANZAC mythology ‘glad-handing’ narrative, received & receives scant to nil MSM media coverage of any worth.

  13. New England Cocky

    Alcibiades, you have scooped me again!! Well done!!

    Pell is guilty as hell!! … and the Roman Church knew it!! Thank you The Age 070319:


    Now to QUICKLY get some compensation from the Roman Church by cutting all government funding to all organisations found guilty of covering up child abuse, until each and every claimant is satisfied financially.

    The Roman Church is reported as having assets worth an estimated $1.2 BILLION, so there should be no pittance payments for mere mortals destroyed by priestly pederasts preying ‘pon poor parishioners progeny!!

  14. Alcibiades

    New England Cocky

    Er, sorry cobber. Quick & the dead ? 🙂

    Pells self-serving, victim traumatising, financial prophylactic in defence of the Churches finances must be shut down, and the waiver of rights imposed by the church on victims re Deeds revoked, ie Pells ‘Melbourne Response’ (designed to cap compensation costs, otherwise the Church would have literally become ‘uninsurable’, back in 1996!), so that the victims may achieve justified financial compensation thru suing the Church directly… which will never be enough or sufficient in of itself re the lifelong trauma & abuse suffered … but it’s a start.

    Andrews government in VIC is working towards legislation to accomplish just that, also so the so called ‘Ellis Defence’ of nil Church financial liability as an entity, yet another of Pells personal handiwork, can be overturned.

  15. Alcibiades


    IIRC, church wealth in Vic is ~$9.6Bn, ~$30Bn+ Australia wide …

  16. Jack Cade

    Too complicated. Simple solution- tax the bastards until their eyes water. The church(es) are simply corporations who feed off superstition. Every level of the Catholic church is like a multi-national empire. Ireland woke up to the Hollywood fiction of the wonderful priests of Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy, and the kiddie-fiddlers fan club has plummeted by about 70% in the last decade. Tax the f*ckers (apposite word) while they still have the loot.

  17. Steve Davis

    Jack Cade !

    Now that name brings back some memories!

  18. Diannaart

    Dr Binoy Kampmark, another excellent summary of events, thank you.

    Before I heard of the police investigation into Pell, I’d always believed him guilty of coverups, aiding and abetting clerics who were guilty of child abuse. Oftentimes thinking, there must be procedures to convict those with the power to move paedophiles around the church hierarchy.

    That such a power, as Pell himself, was not only complicit in protecting his odious brethren but guilty of inflicting the same harm and abuse is sickening.

    That others leap to defend Pell of any guilt is also sickening and a warning to all of us that respect is only for the already powerful. This belief that respect is not for the vulnerable, because the weak haven’t earned it, means many of us will never be treated with any dignity, let alone believed.

  19. DrakeN

    I wonder if the “faithful” followers of the various offending institutions feel any remorse for supporting their malfeasences, morally and financially.
    Anger for feeling decieved I can accept, but ongoing support, not.

  20. Perkin Warbeck


    It may just be – and I have no evidence or reason to suggest this – birds of a feather flocking together. Tony Abbott’s wife must have been peeved – or even relieved – when he opted to live in the barracks with the boys rather than the Lodge with her.

  21. helvityni

    The Cardinal Can Do No Wrong…..says the heading, but the problem is: the Catholics can sin and they do; just confess and you are forgiven…

    Having been brought up as a Lutheran, we were supposed to do the RIGHT thing at all times and go to bed with a clear conscience. NOT FAIR…..

  22. DrakeN

    Helvityni, I think that I am correct that the Phillipines had/have a Catholic Primate by the name of Cardinal SIn. 😉

  23. Jack Cade


    Yes. And when he challenged the then president of the Philippines about his failure to reduce poverty, he was countered with ‘Ill reduce poverty when you allow women to exercise birth control.’
    Pell could presumably claim that he didn’t make anybody pregnant…

  24. Kerri

    I have often wondered that the whole process of confession drives parishioners to sin?
    They want you to confess regularly and “forgive me father but I have been a good person and committed no sins this week”
    Just won’t cut the mustard!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: