The Cardinal Pell: Slouching towards Bethlehem
In my experience one of the more dangerous types of human is the man or woman with an intense and unshakeable conviction that he or she is a “good” person, doing the “right” thing.
The danger is that such a person will see everything they think, say and do through the prism of perceived good and rightness, and this vision inevitably blinds them to the damage they are, like every other human being, capable of inflicting. Because they are unable to see they are incapable of taking responsibility, let alone making atonement or working towards change. So they continue on their blundering path, leaving havoc in their wake, entirely unable to acknowledge they’ve had any part in its production.
Or as Yeats puts it: The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.
(Actually, that poem, The Second Coming, is worth a read: it seems eerily appropriate for these times. Decades before Jacques Derrida’s Structure, Sign and Play…, Irish poet William Butler Yeats noted that “the centre cannot hold.” I find this strangely reassuring. That the poets got to it before the post structuralists, I mean. But I digress…)
The Cardinal George Pell is one such human. Indeed, the most powerful conviction I can see in Pell is his conviction that he is always innocent, always good, and always right, and he clings to these self-perceptions with all the passionate intensity of a man clinging to the lid of an esky in a turbulent sea into which he has been unceremoniously pitched from a sinking vessel. The Catholic church is not holding its centre: The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned…
Serious allegations of bribery and cover-up have yet again been made against George Pell at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse. The Cardinal, strategically parachuted into a leading role in the Vatican’s finance department when things got a little hot for him here in Australia, responded with a written denial, fully supported by his good friend and failed priest Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Abbott, who has a moral point of view on everything, is strangely reluctant to offer one on this matter, saying only that it is up to Pell whether or not he returns to face the Commission’s questioning.
I cannot recall a conversation I had forty years ago, declared the Cardinal, however, for those who were traumatised by such conversations they remain unforgettable. The Cardinal has the luxury of forgetting what continues to haunt and torment victims to this day. For this alone one would expect him to express some gratitude.
It is difficult to imagine that a conversation in a swimming pool change room in which Royal Commission witness Timothy Green informed the then Father Pell that boys were being sexually molested by pedophile Brother Dowlan could have been invented by Mr Green forty years later, in an effort to further discredit George Pell.
It would perhaps be fitting for Pell to emulate the crucified Christ, who died in agony for the sins of the world even though according to the mythology he committed very few if any of them himself. Of course I’m not suggesting a literal crucifixion for the Cardinal, rather a metaphorical sacrifice of self on the altar of the Royal Commission. A written statement from his luxury accommodations in Rome does not, contrary to Prime Minister Abbott’s view, seem nearly sufficient. George Pell needs to front up, and not simply for himself, but for the victims and for the Catholic church, if he wishes that institution to retain any last shred of credibility.
The extent of the sexual abuse of children in institutions, and in the family, is almost beyond comprehension. The frequency with which it is and was committed, and is and was covered up by people who consider themselves “good,” reveals an epidemic of psycho-sexual dysfunction that has been repressed and suppressed to a degree that is also incomprehensible. This denial has occurred at the centre: the centre of institutions, the centre of families, the very centre of our culture and our society. The reality of the margins is confronting the fantasy of the centre, and the centre is no longer holding.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog, No Place For Sheep.
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We can only imagine how Tony Abbott would react if it were Julia Gillard who had been accused of these things.
I have not heard a ‘peep’ out of our Prime Village Idiot.
Could you possibly imagine Abbott ordering a Royal Commission into these matters???
Longtime apologist and one-time “club member” Tony Abbott claims that Pell has “dealt with” all the allegations in his written statement.
However, unlike Pells’s written statement the allegations were sworn statements made under oath – a significant difference.
Whatever harm the evil may do, the harm done by the good is the most harmful harm. Nietzsche, ”On Old and New Tablets”. This man is Judas to the abused.
I must admit that The Second Coming’s use is apposite here – although I’m far from keen on seeing it thus wrapped around the Catholic Church (yes yes, I know !). You write far too favourably of Pell: he is ego personified, and surely there is no place for that within the clergy ? I believe he is one of the people I’d like most to see brought down to a realistic level and made to face his own shameful weaknesses.
Every decent Australian should take note carefully of Abbott’s continued support for pedophiles and those accused in association with, as in G Pell.
This person Abbott holds the highest public office in the land and with it is in a position of ‘trust, honesty and personal compliance in upholding of the law of the country’.
Abbott fails in all categories. “When a dove begins to associate with crows its feathers remain white but its heart grows black”
This superbly written article by Jennifer Wilson gives a very good insight into the harm created by those of the religious persuasion who have betrayed their beliefs through their abuse of children. Without doubt, these wretched people must be brought to justice and by doing so, maybe the myth created by the religionists that they are better able to gauge the moral compass than those of us without religion, will be exposed as false and without any basis of reason.
Like most of the hierarchy within the Catholic Church in Australia, I have never ever liked George Pell. It concerns me that he appears to have enormous sway over the Prime Minister who is a Catholic and injustice continues in the name of religion because of this. I do feel, however, that Jennifer is close to a negative judgement of Pell before all of the facts are laid before us. George Pell is obliged and should be told to appear before the Royal Commission again, if only to clear his name. Let’s be mindful that every person is equal before the law and that men and women must be presumed innocent before being found guilty.
We all have prejudices but lets not become as they. Let justice reign!
The sanctity of the confessional, the moral certainty of celibate priests, the ability to forget what they do not want to hear are all cloaks for obscene sanctimonious hypocrisy.
I actually admire our current Pope (I am not a catholic but was brought up as a nonconformist Christian) but fear his ability to forgive may conflict with his duty to condemn.
George Pell has no place telling others how to live their lives and his attitude towards the LGBT sector is disgusting and ignorant.
The church is long overdue in embracing science because it fears it may destroy its myths.
If Pell has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to fear and, in fact, would actually gain some credibility by returning to Australia and present himself under oath.
However, I expect to see aeronautical hogs before Pell gains any courage.
Who needs the second coming when Pell should be the first going to the land of forked tails and big horns.
I mean the ones on your head.
What a despicable weasel. (With apologies to my furry friends)
That Pell supported Abbots immorality, antisocial attitudes and behaviour is more than enough to demonstrate his true values. In short he dose not need the benefit of innocent until proven guilty since his immorality and political expediency extends far wider, and more publicly, than any a single issue could refute.
That is not to deny the appalling protection of pedophiles by a church he headed.
I for one will not tolerate such devious self-effacing manipulation of the facts.
I have said that I consider Tony Abbott to be a failed Catholic and a traitor to humanity based on his actions and his words given the current issues the world faces.
The repeated serious abuses of the innocent and the vulnerable by many priests and others in positions of responsibility and the deliberate measures taken by the church hierarchy to conceal these abuses and to actively contest the legal process and further harm victims during that process in so many cases is truly appalling and shows a disregard or even contempt of true Christian values.
To me George Pell appears to care more about the financial liabilities of the church rather than its moral principles and the best interests of many of its innocent victims.
And this snake oil salesman was a confidant of Tony Abbott. Easy to see where Abbott get his “humanitarian” values from particularly in relation to those poor souls languishing at sea. Shame their won’t be a hell waiting for him as that would be a fitting punishment. The people I freel most sorry for are those who believe that this is the one ” true” church. They must feel terribly confused and let down by Pell and too many others.
“Old Men In Frocks” – largely best ignored these days. There are plenty of other good and moral people whom we can turn to for considered advice. And, yes, Pell is totally self-serving.
Dad always said, “Son, do not trust a man in dress”.
I hate religion because it really does seem to do permanent damage to peoples brains.
My view is that it stops people from thinking properly. It is a bit like the beauty affect where those whom are beautiful become narcissists as they rely on their beauty to make their way in the world and it becomes their centre of focus. In doing so the opportunity cost of relying on this aspect rather than in using the brain to live makes them shallow and selfish.
So to it is for the religious – the reason is that everytime a non-black and white issue arises, which is a frustration to the mind, they turn to religious dogma to alleviate this frustration. This becomes habitual to the point they no longer can think objectively or even deeply. Abbott is a prime example of this effect.
Pell would have been the same when young, but is worse now, as I do not even think he believes in Christianity anymore and his every action demonstrates this. He has dropped the “good side” of Christianity, as in helping others to help themselves by offering a belief system that enables personal discipline, and now is entirely occupied by the retention of power over others.
This scenario is not at all unusual – there is an incredible amount of history in the priesthood where people of the nature of Pell abuse the public in all sorts of ways. Perhaps the greatest anti-religious book ever written, was written by a French priest in the 1700’s.
“Under pretext of instructing and enlightening men, religion really holds them in ignorance, and deprives them even of the desire of understanding the objects which interest them the most. There exists for the people no other rule of conduct than that which their priests indicate to them. Religion takes the place of everything; but being in darkness itself, it has a greater tendency to misguide mortals, than to guide them in the way of science and happiness. Philosophy, morality, legislation, and politics are to them enigmas. Man, blinded by religious prejudices, finds it impossible to understand his own nature, to cultivate his reason, to make experiments; he fears truth as soon as it does not agree with his opinions. Everything tends to render the people devout, but all is opposed to their being humane, reasonable, and virtuous. Religion seems to have for its object only to blunt the feeling and to dull the intelligence of men.
The war which always existed between the priests and the best minds of all ages, comes from this, that the wise men perceived the fetters which superstition wished to place upon the human mind, which it fain would keep in eternal infancy, that it might be occupied with fables, burdened with terrors, and frightened by phantoms which would prevent it from progressing. Incapable of perfecting itself, theology opposed insurmountable barriers to the progress of true knowledge; it seemed to be occupied but with the care to keep the nations and their chiefs in the most profound ignorance of their true interests, of their relations, of their duties, of the real motives which can lead them to prosperity; it does but obscure morality; renders its principles arbitrary, subjects it to the caprices of the Gods, or of their ministers; it converts the art of governing men into a mysterious tyranny which becomes the scourge of nations; it changes the princes into unjust and licentious despots, and the people into ignorant slaves, who corrupt themselves in order to obtain the favor of their masters.”
A catholic clergy friend has for years had a photo of Pell on his office door, enclosed by a red circle with a diagonal line through it. Underneath are the words: ‘Pell free zone”
As Jesus would have called…Abbott, Pell, Morrisson etc – “white-washed sepulchres” the lot of them.
Abbott’s failure to set himself apart from Pell and his wish to be seen as a close friend and confidant actually sends shivers through me.
What did Abbott see and do in the seminary? What do we truly know of his time there other than what he tells us? What we do know from him is that he was exposed to certain circumstances that led to him abandoning the seminary. What were these circumstances?
Until the institutions that are finally being exposed for perpetrating and/or covering up of the despicable crime of child sexual abuse, until these institutions genuinely atone and show us and the world (they are under international scrutiny) how they have purged their institutions of this hideous crime, then I will never put trust in any of them.
Abbott’s intransigence in the matter relating to Pell and the Catholic church raises many, many questions about his own background. I find his leadership of this nation extremely discomforting.
I find it rather peculiar that not one of Abbott’s fellow inmates at St Patricks has found the vow of silence ‘outside’ the cloistered walls of the Seminary. Surely he was not the only novice to fail to reach the stage of taking Holy Orders yet also remain a close confidant of the bully boy.
It beggars belief he didn’t make a few enemies while failing to make his mark as a Priest, more so as they remain silent. Of course he may have been a completely different being in those years, friend and mate to all so to speak.
Find it very hard to believe, particularly if he had a close encounter of some kind. That would have let the real Abbott loose.
Just a delete to my previous in line 1. Not one should read all’
The best thing a writer can hope for is interesting and informed commentary – thank you.
Don’t bother with the updates. We’ve had enough of you.
So the heat is coming on one of the IPA’s invited guests to their 50th anniversary celebrations last year. What is a so called prince of the church going to an openly pro right wing group’s celebration of 50 years of anti working class politics.
Jammy March …”I don’t understand the unbridled hatred for the Catholic Church, ”
Perhaps you should study up on the Ellis defence … or maybe talk to the parents of Emma and Katie Foster .. .or some of the óther abused children .
Tragically, some forty of those children are no longer with us, thanks to the activities of some of the church’s holy fathers.
And you find it amusing. You just don’t have a bloody clue, do you?
The criticism about Pell has been around for years from many different sources, Not just one garbled witness, Has admitted truth of some allegations in the two timed he ha appeared. First at the Victorian Investigation, then this one.
The present allegation are from one who was a family member of the convicted priest. Knew Pell personally.
Pell was the senior church official involved in many decision over the year
What amazes me, is not Abbott supporting Pell, but the distance he is keeping from the RC and it’s victims.
Does a PM have the freedom, not to be involved in any way. Has refused moderate request from RC to set up a mechanism to coordinate compensation for victims.
His excuse was that the institution should be responsible for the money, not the Federal government. Was NOT asked for money.
The same man is handing out hundreds millions to parents of the four and other involved in Pink Batts. The compensation should be paid by employers who broke the law, being responsible for the death,
Yes many caught with Pink batts when it was curtailed for political reasons should be compensated. In fact I though many were.
No, Abbott’s silence is deafening.
He doesn’t rule for me. He doesn’t put me first yet I am an Australian.
Funny thing, many have been bought up in the church we are accusing of hating. My main gripe beside the proven sexual abuse, is the way they treated women when marriages failed through no fault of their own,
Yes, they condone DV and condemned the woman if she tried to flee with her children. The woman shunned, while the man was given all support by the same priests that condoned clergy sexual abuse of children
Jammy March, You had me for a moment ….. then I realized your posts are brilliant, subtle satire…. The one I REALLY love is, “Well PM Abbott rules for all Australians. He is PM first, a Catholic second.” ….. Brilliant, straight faced humor….. LOVE it!
There are serious allegations(made under oath) that Mr Pell colluded to conceal predatory peodophilia.
He should, for good faith and public accountability, return to answer these accusations.
I think one of the reasons many people find the Catholic church so contemptable and risible is that, as an institution, it seems to offer more outrage over consenting adult buggery in others than over child rape committed by it’s own representatives.
In their defense, this reflects the texts of monotheist mythology.
Alteration to previous post, to clarify for those more interested in pedantry and semantics than transparent scrutiny and accountability for those allegedly using positions of power to commit/cover up sex crimes against children.
‘In their defense, this reflects their(Catholic) texts of monotheistic(single God/deity[in this case human shaped with a penis]) mythology’.
Jim March fukwits as yurself who treat a disgusting criminal topic with jest deserve to spend some time with Pells priests, although I figure you would excel in their company enjoying the experience. I find no humour in your low life posts
I do not understand why the Catholic Church will not allow it’s Priests to marry.
A celibate life is not natural for a man or a woman, our bodies were designed for procreation.
Surely, celibacy can lead to frustration and in some cases such frustration lead to the kind of abuse that has been experienced.
If the Pope is really progressive, he should address the issue of marriage within the Clergy and while he is at it, the ordaining of women as Priests.
Fortunately Abbot is guilty of all crimes and to be held accountable, as committed by others.
As, it should be.
Are we absolutely sure, that he didn’t create the Labour party.?
Lazy, Greedy people could not have done the job all by them selves.
Must be a link there we can hang his hat on, for sure.
@ Barry Thompson. Priests marrying and gay marriage rights may be inseparable.
Nope nope nope, not going to happen.
Jammy I agree plenty of people lead happy celibate lives and good on them.
But that’s a red herring. What about those who lead unhappy celibate lives? People do crazy things when lacking sex, errant priests included, and I’m sure regular sex didn’t make many an alter boy all that happy.
You love sprouting red herrings Jammy March with no data or sources to back them up. Two in the above post.
Can you give us the study or studies that show sex committed in relationships is in the majority tedious and too much soul destroying? Also the study or studies that the sixties and seventies showed it to be so?
Now to the second one. Plenty of people live all types of lives, some who wish to murder but never do, some who get the urge to rape but never do and wish to abuse but never do, with no bad effect on those around them. On the other hand there are others who do murder and do rape and do abuse.
So there are those who are celibate and never abuse, but a great majority of them are not put in charge of children for extended periods of their lives, nor are they given power over others by way of their religion so they can use that to subjugate and put the fear of their god into those they minister.
Ah the flippant comment. Was expecting it, wasn’t disappointed.
I don’t think I’ve seen a real troll on here … until now.
What has jammy march added to the discussion re church sponsored pedophilia ?
Answer … SFA
Is not concealing this repugnant crime a crime in itself and therefore liable to charges ?
Of course it is.
As for jammy march, I have nothing more to say … only a cautionary word to the rest of us …
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
I see it as a problem that the Catholic religious institution makes being male and sworn celibate as mandatory requirements to any acceptance and advancement as an ordained representative, then put them in positions of intimate power over the vulnerable (including/esp children).
There is also the condoning/celebration of acts of atrocious cruelty(including genocide and child slavery) inherent through many of the books compiled as the Holy Bible, the learning and full acceptance of which is a large part their indoctrinal training as Christian priests. The consentual sex “crimes” of male buggery and hetero adultery are stated as greater offenses than the violent crime of rape, and age is never mentioned as a factor.
There is also the compounding factor of the trappings of power and wealth that have surrounded that religion since the legacy of Constantine, and the unaccountable corruption that this has enabled. It has long been a dangerous thing to besmirch the name of a priest, and to naysay a Pope is literal heresy.
Wherein Jammy boy expounds a penetrating ignorance of the law.
Talk about proudly displaying ignorance. As bad as the litany of unfounded generalisations.
NSW law, similar in other states and for Federal law.
@ Möbius Ecko
Maybe no one informed Pell of these laws, maybe….. or ole George considers himself above the law. I’m betting on the latter. ‘Humility’ is not a word which springs forth when (ugh) considering this man.
Mobius, don’t count on Jammy providing any evidence to back up his claims.
I recently asked for a link to support an outrageous claim of his and his response was to provide a link to Google and tell me to look it up myself.
Fairly pathetic response, really.
Jammy, ration or rational? Your choice I guess.
Pell is not a bystander in this sorry saga.
Pell was in a position of authority.
When in authority, one has a duty of care to all under their charge.
That is how the law works.
That should also be what is ethical and moral.
Therefore Pell has to return, explain his actions, and maybe lack of action.
And then there are the common rules of complicity:
A massive blow to the Catholic Church if Pell continues to ‘to turn his cheek’.
Assuming that child abuse isn’t already enough to put people off having anything to do with formal religion, or even any form of authority over their children – the CC will never hold the same level of power as it did only 100 years ago.
I remain optimistic that such powers are in their death throes – in another 100 years, what will be said of such abuse?
PS. Abbott must believe he as PM, he does indeed have a duty of care, arising from his actions.
This was the excuse he used to pursue both Rudd and Gillard, when he set up RCs into their actions as PM. With Gillard, he added a alleged crime that was over two decades old.
Yes, he attempted to lay those Pink Batts deaths at the feet of Rudd.
Yes, though numerous enquiries have pointed out otherwise, he is paying millions of dollars compensation, based on it being Rudd’s fault to alleged victims.
He is bypassing the fact, the duty of care laid with the four employers, which he has sided with against Rudd.
The biggest crime revealed the Rudd seemed to have committed, is that they were chaotic in how they introduced the scheme.
This in spite they for the first time in fifty years, introduced safety regulations, making the industry much safer.
Managed to insulated million and quarter roofs, which has led to big reduction in power bills.
Yes, and hundreds mostly Tony’s tradies were kept in work.
Abbott and the likes of Pell only see such things as duty of care and regulations, something that others must obey.
Their likes much be bought to account.
Today I have heard, other Roman Catholic bodies demanding that Pell be held to account.
At this point, it’s going to be a question not of “if,” but of who and how many are prosecuted -and the commission is only halfway through its current schedule.
As to Pell, he’d be best advised to stay inside the confines of the Vatican.
The Royal Commission is not only about revealing what abused occurred. That is only history. it is about finding out why it was allowed to occur. Why when many knew for many generations, turned a blind eye.
it is about compensating the victims.
It is about punishing the perpetrators.
It is about identifying, why those who had the duty of care for the people in their charged turned a blind eye.
It is about finding out why those in charged assisted the perpetrators from the law.
In every case, it seems the good name of the institution was put above the victims.
It is about ringing to the public notice, the damage it has done to most of the victims. Yes, they still suffer into their old age, affecting their daily lives.
It is not a witch hunt.
It is about justice and how we protect our children, all children today.
Again making a generalisation with no data to back it up. You made the statement so show us any studies that show sexual (or physical) abuse is not higher than in most large organisations.
The church is the only patriarchal organisation and studies show they are more predicated to abuse than those with women in the power structure.
Do not feed the troll … you know who I mean.
Do not even acknowledge it’s existence.
Just leave it to talk to itself.
Studies in Australia from over a decade ago found that around 3.5 to 4.7% of those in the church offended depending on diocese and positions. The Royal Commission has found this figure to be higher than originally reported. There are no reliable studies for comparison against the general population, but a study in the UK put it at around 1% to 1.5%.
I was hoping that it might be a parodist.
In fact it is a mad raving bastard..
So in other words Jammy March your only response to facts and data is flippancy, in other words trolling. You started to state I don’t know you, but I know you only too well. All the traits are there and the words so similar to another you could be that person.
Anyway I thought your deliberate idiocy might be amusing but it doesn’t rise to that height. Bye.
Randalstella … Correct !!
And they vote … that explains a few things, eh ?
As a matter of suggestion, this should more appropriately be titled ‘criminal pall’. As for Ms Florence’s comment (@5.17), can’t agree more. May I add, it is also about making sure it can’t happen again. Yep, I know. It’s as likely as “by 1990, no child will live in poverty”. Or, more recently, our human rights violations don’t really matter. We can’t predict the future. We sure as heck get a say in how we want to get there and the values when we arrive there. Again, thank you Ms Wilson. And most of the commentators. Take care
Best for Pell. Not for anyone else.
He’s under attack from both sides at the Vatican as well. From those who don’t want to see his financial reforms and those who want financial reform but not what Pell is doing. Both of these sides are pushing for Pell to go.
Every institution or organisations that work with children attract paedophiles.
Would love to see an explanation why this RC is a witch-hunt.
The crimes are real. So are the perpetrators and those who condoned by turning blind eye to the abuse.
Witch Hunts in MHO is where no crime or wrongdoing exists.
There are many high up in the church in this country that want Pell bought to account. It is about justice, nothing to do with hate.
Unless it is hate for seeing children abused, destroyed for life.
Sad that one admits, they have never enjoyed the company of a good woman. They have missed so much in life.
“Sad that one admits, they have never enjoyed the company of a good woman”
Quite so, Florence …
I suspect that single fact explains a great deal.
Perhaps all the good women preferred to be somewhere else.
As one who spent much of my working life in welfare, child protection and residential care, one sure takes the concept of “duty of care “Seriously.
At the very least, one can find themselves without a job. At the other end, serving long sentence at the top end for manslaughter or worse.
Churches, especially the Catholic by nature of their structure attract child abusers. A priest in many people lives, occupy a trust and authoritarian position.
Witch hunts are political.
RC into child abuse is about crime.
Speaking as a believer I agree wholeheartedly that Pell should emulate Christ is scrificing himself by returning to face the RC.
The entire concept of Grace is that it is repentance for forgiveness of sins. Not one action taken by those representing the catholic church has shown the remorse that is part of real repentance. They have missed the soul of what they preach & have left the Light behind long ago on their path.
As a former student within the catholic system, even then, I took what the “good” had to say with a pinch of salt after it contrasted with their day to day actions. Yet, even now, I am aghast at the desultory, and to my mind, flippant disregard that people like Cardinal Pell and others can take, even now, to these incomprehensible crimes. I could be rude and angry in my comments, but what good will it do? Where is the justice? When will the church take responsibility?