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The heart of Cardinal Pell

Cardinal George Pell certainly has a heart condition, one that has been apparent to even the most casual observer for some considerable time.

It could be thought of as heartlessness or a lack of heart in his attitude to survivors of sexual abuse by priests of Pell’s church. Pell has consistently placed victims and survivors second, third and fourth to the requirements and reputation of the religious institution that has fed, watered and lavishly nurtured him.

Yesterday, Pell’s lawyers advised the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse that Pell would be unable to appear before the Commission to be questioned as arranged, due to a heart condition that makes long-haul flight too great a risk to his health. Inquiry chair Justice Peter McClellan refused to accept Pell’s evidence via video link, instead postponing his appearance until March 2016 when it is hoped the heart of Cardinal Pell will have recovered sufficiently to allow him to travel from Rome to Ballarat.

It’s a measure of Pell’s character that this news has been greeted with scorn, derision, disbelief and contempt. If he is indeed seriously ill, nobody much cares, and few are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Pell is between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn’t appear before the Commission to answer hard questions, his guilt will be assumed and he forfeits an opportunity to exonerate himself. If he does appear, his alleged guilt may well be exposed as real. Either way, public opinion has so turned against the Cardinal that he has become a despised figure, of whom even some Catholics are deeply ashamed.

All of this is as nothing, compared to the destruction and pain wrought upon children by priests of Pell’s church, some of whom he publicly supported. Beside this, the Cardinal’s mental, emotional, spiritual and physical discomfort is as nothing.

It seems to me that a person’s character is defined by their willingness to front up and be accountable for their actions and inactions; never an easy experience, but what are we if we can’t or won’t do that?

Oh, and Pell was also confessor and mentor to failed Prime Minister and failed priest Tony Abbott (Just saying). (Not that it means anything). (Unless you want it to). (I’m done now).

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Mick

    This is exactly what I thought as soon as I heard the news.

    Maybe if he can’t handle a long haul flight, he could fly from rome to Dubai and stay the night in a five star hotel before flying to Mumbai for another five star stop over. Then on to KL then perhaps Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Melbourne. It would take about a week.

    Think of how many other hearts would be at ease.

  2. Peter F

    Apart from the miracle of Pell actually finding that he does have a heart, surely God (or St Christopher) will look after him as he travels to Australia. If not, then God’s will be done.

  3. andreas

    Rotten to the core is this medieval cult, this man’s reluctance to face the music is no different. Withdraw their tax concessions and jail ALL the perpetrators.

  4. Terry Goulden

    Surely he should fly back now. That way he will leave his guilt or innocence in the hands of his god, depending on whether he survives the flight or not.

  5. keertidalley

    I received a post on FB which suggested that the perverted preying on young boys by catholic clergy had made pell sick to the stomach.If so I suspect it would have been a gag reflex!

  6. Kaye Lee

    What consideration was given to the health of the children who were raped then disbelieved. What consideration was given to the mental well-being of the abused children and their families when, even after guilt was accepted, no justice was forthcoming other than a small amount of hush money, meaning they could tell no-one of their torment, as their abuser was transferred on to hurt other kids. Most of the abusers escaped any form of punishment, dying before they could be prosecuted. Why should Pell be allowed to reside in his mansion paid for by the parishioners he has so heinously let down.

    Come and make your confession Pell. I hear it is good for the soul.

  7. Mick

    Andreas, I think nothing could unite so many people from so many diverse backgrounds as the jailing of Cardinal ‘Sin’ Pell.

  8. Brad

    Shouldn’t it be a heartless condition?

  9. Miriam English

    Uh-oh. I notice Pell has glasses. There’s your problem right there. He should never have been allowed in the church in the first place. Leviticus 21:20 clearly states that anyone who has a problem with their eyes is not allowed into the church and certainly not allowed to approach the altar. Pell is obviously devil-sent. No wonder he’s scared to fly. 🙂

    Gee, it’s amazing anybody is allowed into the church. The list of those excluded is pretty extensive: [21:18] For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, [21:19] Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, [21:20] Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

    (Hath his stones broken??? WTF?? Kidney stones? Bladder stones? Testicles?)

    A lot of people could be characterised as having blemishes. None of them should be going to church. Trouble with their feet, hands, or back? Nuh-uh. Not allowed. Blind or small stature? No way. Get outa here with that limp or flat nose.

    But all healthy, good-looking people are welcome. Such an inclusive organisation.

  10. Mick

    He’s also in charge of finances…does that make him a money lender?

    Even with glasses, it’s not looking good.

  11. Kyran

    The hearing of case #28 was rescheduled to reconvene in Melbourne, not Ballarat, after pall met with Brandis. The resultant outcry saw it relisted in Ballarat.
    Pall then exercised his right to cross examine witnesses. The church he represents had already said it would not cross examine witnesses. His cross examination of witnesses can only be seen as self preservation, over his employers (sorry, god!) stated interest of the welfare of the victims.
    That didn’t work.
    And now the heartless pall invokes sympathy for his inability to travel. He has now bent every rule of jurisprudence, and amplified the need for his testimony with serious cross examination. February? Bugger that.
    This pall is little more than a shroud for Skase’s coffin.
    “It seems to me that a person’s character is defined by their willingness to front up and be accountable for their actions and inactions; never an easy experience, but what are we if we can’t or won’t do that?”
    Thank you, Ms Wilson. Take care

  12. Matters Not

    Pell believes in the separation of Church and State . As a Cardinal of the Church he wishes to remain aloof from matters of State. The Church shouldn’t interfere in matters of State and the State shouldn’t interfere in Church affairs.

    And the Church sticks to its part of the bargain. It doesn’t try to influence the State by paying taxes on its lands, charities, businesses and the like. The State should stay out of …

    But if Pell eventually fronts one wonders how often he will say ‘I can’t recall’. And he will probably call Abbott as a character witness.

  13. Florence nee Fedup

    Doesn’t surprise he is not coming. A shame he doesn’t understand there where many like him, who acted in similar manner. Most during this RC have come to understand that. Many have made genuine apologies.

    I suspect Pell because of his nature, is unable to do that.

    I hope the main reason the RC was set up was to give recognitions to victims, along with changing the culture, to prevent any more victims.

    Pell could save himself a lot of anst if he followed lead of many other church and community leaders.

    Make a humble apology, saying he got it wrong. Many bigger men than him have already done so.

  14. June M Bullivant OAM

    Me either, or a conscience, ethics, morals and the list goes on.

  15. Chris

    Just let the Catholic Church die. It is undeserving of support.
    Two of my aunts were nuns. Only one quit. They were both always propagandists and somewhat nasty…..

  16. kathysutherland2013

    @Chris – that’s a bit harsh. There are plenty of good, devout Catholics out there, living their faith. They have been betrayed by their leaders.

  17. brickbob

    I have never met the man and nor do i wish to,but everytime i see him on tv or in a photograph such as the one at the top of this article i cringe,he just comes across as a an A grade creep who scares the be jesus out of me.

    He seems to exude evil, and when you consider he was a mentor to Tony Abbott that just reinforces my gut feeling about this bloke.
    I predict that after his death the truth will come out,and words like ””’ Narcissist, Psychopath and Monster will be used to describe this man.

  18. corvus boreus

    George Pell is unable to return to Australia and answer questions regarding his conduct concerning allegations of the serious and serial abuses of children under his ecclesiastical care, because of the heavy burden it would place upon his heart to do so.
    He is also very busy at his tasks, namely cleaning up the collection plates and laundering the gild-cloth.

    Back home, his replacement as head of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Arch-bishop Fisher, has already shown the dodgy cut of his colours by officially declaring Australia to be a “warzone” in the ‘fight’ against the oxymoron of a ‘secular caliphate’.

    “The new Sydney priests would nonetheless be ministering in a warzone, said the Archbishop.
    Noting that St Mary’s Cathedral had held two memorial services for victims of terror in the past year, Archbishop Fisher acknowledged the problem of fundamentalist theists but said that the problem in Australia is more often from fundamentalist atheists who ‘dream of a secular caliphate, in which all religious belief is eliminated from law, institutions such as marriage, culture and the human heart’.”

  19. Miriam English

    heheheh 😀 “secular caliphate”! What a moron that Fisher is. Looks like he’s keeping up Pell’s standard. What perfectly terrible people. What a wonderful advertisement for their damnable church. Just keep it up Pell and Fisher. You guys will usher in the fully secular society much faster than we atheists ever could.

  20. mars08

    I should be used to it by now…

    I am still astounded by the disdain the rich and powerful (and conservative) have for the law. Especially considering how they love to screech about everyone having to ‘respect’ the law….

  21. Stove-pipe

    He’ll pull the old AWB strategy out, just like Downer did. “I can’t recall”
    *cough* bullshit *cough*

  22. Wally

    I really do hope that God does exist so when Pell arrives at the pearly gates he gets his arse kicked so hard he ends up down in hell for an eternity.


    heart of darkness

  24. margcal

    ” …… the Cardinal that he has become a despised figure, of whom even some Catholics are deeply ashamed.”

    “some” is a MASSIVE (yes, I must shout it) under-estimate.
    Otherwise, a spot-on piece.

  25. Ginny Lowndes

    The easiest way to get George Pell and the Pedophiles on the next plane is to tell the church their tax exempt status has been revoked.

  26. lawrencewinder

    That Cardinal, “The Graceless” Pell-Pot has a heart is open to question, that he is afraid of his crucifixion, is not!

  27. lawrencesroberts

    Perhaps we should pay for The Royal Commission to go to Rome. Why should we have him in here.

  28. Matters Not

    Perhaps we should pay for The Royal Commission to go to Rome

    And perhaps pay for George to buy a new frock?

    Being serious for a moment, George has staked his ‘defence’ to a political mast in the form of ‘health’ issues. To go back would ruin his credibility entirely. Alan Bond tried it but simply made himself a laughing stock.

    No George has made a decision and he must live with it. And there’s no taking heart.

    He is now powerless. Just like the ‘victims’ of the abuse he swept under the carpet.

  29. jim

    Here’s why all religion is EVIL, ok I met a stranger this stranger wants to be my friend and I his, ok I met a stranger ( who was religious),this stranger says he wants to be my friend and I his, BUT, BUT,this stranger wants to alter my thinking and if he doesn’t alter my thinking well, no way can he be my friend in fact to him I am an evil person and not a friend at all. NO GODS PLEASE.

  30. Miriam English

    Maybe Pope Francis could be petitioned to force dickhead Pell to face the music. Francis did boot USA’s top cardinal and infamously rabid homophobe Raymond Leo Burke out of the Vatican Supreme Court for his intolerance of gays.

    In the end, it hardly matters. By avoiding the Royal Commission, Pell is pretty-much admitting massive guilt. Let’s face it, if he wanted to come he would find a way, even if it was by boat, like in the old days — you know, when people used to go on a cruise to improve their health when convalescing. Maybe he’s scared that he’s so guilty he’ll be found out and end up in prison. One thing he has guaranteed is lots more speculation like this from people, because nobody is going to believe his piss-weak excuse. It’s a bit like group therapy, really: the day you’re absent you know who everybody else is going to talk about. 🙂

  31. corvus boreus

    I would disagree with the statement that Cardinal George Pell is ‘powerless’.

    Granted, Pell has lost a great deal of direct influence over Australian politics with the deposing of Tony Abbott (a close confidante and fellow ‘hook or crook/admit no guilt’ Catholic hardliner), and being confined to the Vatican on account of his sick-note excuse to the pedo-priest commission means he cannot credibly travel back here in any attempt to re-establish his personal influence.

    However, there is a great deal of power in Pell’s current position within the elite ruling body of the world-wide Catholic church.

    There is a regressive/reactionary clique within the Vatican hierarchy who are attempting to actively undermine the authority of the current pope in order to derail his (relatively) progressive agenda, and Pell would doubtless be surreptitiously using his seat on the council of cardinals to help this piled rump hatch their plots against the infallable Francis (1).
    Pell has also had his stained and sticky fingers gifted the task of tallying and apportioning the collected coinage of the world’s wealthiest church, potentially a very lucrative endeavour for an unprincipled opportunist.

    Compared to poor, religiously indoctrinated children being abused by ecclesiastic authority, Pell is not exactly ‘powerless’.

  32. TheBabelFish

    I think he’s gone and I think he knows it. That’s when you start coming up with excuses like that. He’s obviously got all the other clergy to shut up, even the ones in jail, but there are too many other witnesses. He is squirming but he can’t get off the hook.

  33. iggy648

    Pell has a heart problem. Guinness book of world records: 15 million Australians think of the same joke simultaneously.

  34. margcal

    Corvus B: Pell is not surreptitiously undermining the pope. He is doing it quite openly, especially prior to the synod on the family he was openly and actively supporting the hardliner reactionaries.

  35. Aortic

    Snake oil salesmen extraordinaire. The people I feel most sorry for are those who have been abused and those who consider their church as the one true church and have faith in it. They have been let down badly by their supposed religious leaders, who are obviously intent on saving whatever “reputation” the church has left rather than see justice done. I only wish there was some sort of eternal place of punishment as they would all figure prominently in the front row.

  36. Jaq

    Chris.. I’m with you. One of my uncles is a priest in a wealthy suburb in London. Mens club membership, expensive restaurants, and whiskey, housekeeper, cook, drives a BMW and has a vile temper. I went to a convent school, which left me with a disgust for nuns, some of the nastiest people Ive come across.

    If the Catholic Church was a corporation whose directors laughed about it’s employees raping kids, did everything to discredit the victims thereby causing even more trauma and suicide, would we really support it? Yet people are piling money into collection plates every Sunday around the world supporting men who are just disgusting and doing just that.

    My mum was a beautiful person, and a devout Catholic, locked into an abusive relationship because she took a vow in front of God.

    Can’t wait until people wake up. You don’t need a church to be a decent human being.

  37. ausross

    Let’s face it – Pell has bugger all credibility let.

  38. Ann Brown

    George Pell is a coward, and if he had nothing to hide he should be moving Heaven and Earth to get back here and clear his name. But no he’s watching what is happening to some of the priests he stood by and lied for. He needs to be held accountable before he dies. I am Catholic went to a Catholic school, and was ridiculed by priests and nuns in front of my class mates each Monday morning for not attending church. BUT I turned out a better person than George Pell..I say trust in God make the trip.

  39. Matters Not

    corvus boreus wrote:

    Pell is not exactly ‘powerless’.

    In the absolute sense you are correct. He still occupies a position within the Vatican with enormous ‘theoretical power’.

    But for how long? Seems to me he’s a political carcass swinging in the breeze and the current Pope either knows it or will soon be made aware. Pell advances ‘health issues’ as reasons for his non-attendance at the RC into child abuse. That ‘explanation’ (ironically) also provides a ‘rationale’ for his departure from his current position along the lines that the work he was undertaking is so, so important and so wide-ranging that it demands the services of someone who is fully fit and not subject to age related physical imperfections.

    The Pope is well aware that the ‘Clergy’, broadly defined, has a terrible record when it comes to ‘denial’ and ‘excuses’ re the failure to respond appropriately.

    It seems to me that George Pell is gone, at least in the short to medium term. And that applies to his ‘power’ as well.

  40. Raymond Conder

    Take heart George Pell. Jesus loves the little children all the children of the world. Jesus is Lord. The devil is a liar.

  41. Pingback: Brendan Smyth - how did he avoid extradition - Page 55

  42. Richard Mullins

    I am not aligned with Pell or his supporters ideologically.
    But the case against him seemed obviously fabricated from the moment I heard it.
    The real story to be investigated is that Pell was falsely charged, and why he was. This is a great enigma.
    Richard Mullins

  43. Phil

    ‘ But the case against him seemed obviously fabricated from the moment I heard it. ‘


  44. Jack Cade

    Nobody has commented that confession cleanses/nullifies the sin. So Pell can claim he is innocent with a clear conscience (assuming always that he has confessed to ‘a peer’. )
    The law assumes innocence until proven guilty. We, however, are subject to no such stricture.

  45. Richard Mullins

    Jennifer says: “If he doesn’t appear before the Commission to answer hard questions, his guilt will be assumed and he forfeits an opportunity to exonerate himself. If he does appear, his alleged guilt may well be exposed as real”.

    I think you need to restate this, Jennifer. You have a doctorate in what? Character assassination?

    Richard Mullins

  46. Lambert Simpleton

    Yes. Christian teaching proposes that a clear conscience is the only true measure.

    If you are right Richard, he will be feeling sublime.

    And of course we know that the allegations of cover ups over forty years, as mere allegations, would scarcely bother the righteous man.

  47. Miriam English

    Richard, I don’t think Jennifer was intending to speak as a legal expert, but was merely stating the obvious in how most people will see it. Naturally most people will see it this way.

    Sure, there is a chance that he didn’t do the things attributed to him, and that he’s genuinely scared to appear before a court that he doubts will be fair. But that’s a bit hard to believe when it is pretty clear he’s covered up other pedophile priests’ crimes for decades and had close associations with some of them. It is also difficult to believe that people would come forward to the public damage they would face in falsely alleging that they’d been sexually assaulted by him. Lastly, it is a bit of a stretch to believe he won’t get a fair hearing in court when he has the backing of so many powerful people… and of his god.

    I have to say, it looks to me very much like Pell has already shown his guilt.

  48. richard mullins

    Miriam English, “it;’s pretty clear he’s covered up other pedophile priests’ crimes for decades and had close associations with some of them”. Certainly this is the propaganda we were getting from Milligan and her ilk. But is any of it true? In hindsight, I have to assume that the “gutter press” has been making up stories for many years.

    Richard Mullins

  49. Miriam English

    Richard, so you’ll reject all the evidence and simply choose to ignore it? Oh, that doesn’t sound unbiased at all. [rolls eyes]

    For years — decades — Pell protected and sided with pedophile priests instead of their victims. This is not propaganda from the “gutter press”, as you call it. This is what Pell himself admitted. And, yes, he had close association with pedophile priests — for a little under a year he lived with infamous serial child sex offender Gerald Ridsdale, convicted of 140 sexual assault charges against 65 children — some as young as four! Ridsdale was repeatedly moved to different communities whenever word spread in that community of his child-raping. In the 70s when Pell was a priest in the diocese of Ballarat, it was common knowledge among police, teachers and parents, and the broader Catholic communities that Ridsdale was assaulting children. The decision to move Ridsdale, inflicting him on other communities, was taken by church consultors, of which Pell was one, at meetings at which Pell was present. Pell has admitted he knew some of the priests abused children.

    The very reason church authorities are able to wreak so much damage is that people turn a blind eye to their crimes, even when the evidence is plain.

  50. Kaye Lee

    “After almost nine months in jail, Cardinal George Pell remains in solitary confinement in Melbourne waiting for the High Court to consider whether to hear his appeal on his historic child sex abuse conviction. We should all hope that he wins” says Miranda Devine in the Telegraph yesterday. As she would/has/does.

    Meanwhile, from the people who have actually heard the evidence…..

    “George Pell’s appeal bid based on ‘false premise’, Victorian prosecutors tell High Court”

  51. Richard Mullins

    Miriam English, no one has been fingering Paul Bongiorno as being complicit in the crimes of any sex offenders, nor should they. But Bongiorno and Pell are exactly in the same situation – as priests, they shared a house with Searson.

    This is evidence that Pell has been treated falsely by the media.
    I have to assume that the accusations against Pell are nothing but lies.

    Richard Mullins

  52. Kaye Lee

    Gee that’s an interesting argument Richard.

    Because Paul Bongiorno used to be a priest, Pell must be innocent. All that time and money wasted on a court case when we could have just said, well Pell couldn’t possibly be guilty or otherwise Paul Bongiorno is too and if he isn’t, then Pell isn’t.

  53. Miriam English

    Richard, you’re subtly altering the point. You questioned that Pell had associated with pedophile priests, so I showed that he had. Then you’re saying that isn’t enough to prove he’s a bad person, but I never said it was. There is plenty of other evidence. When taken with his association with pedophile priests it points to a continuum.

    As for Paul Bongiorno, I don’t even know who he is.
    Did Bongiorno know about, but fail to take a moral stand on priests kiddy-fiddling? This is true of Pell.
    Did Bongiorno defend and take part in decisions to move pedophile priests to new communities and inflict them on the children there? Pell did.
    Was Bongiorno credibly accused of child rape? Pell was.
    Was Bongiorno convicted of child rape? Pell was.

    Pell himself has admitted all this — except sexually interfering with children, but he was convicted of that.

    It has nothing to do with the media. Why are you trying to excuse Pell by attempting to discredit the media?

  54. Zathras

    For me it’s mainly been the arrogance of the man as well as the organisation he represented.
    To say that reports of molestation in his diocese we “of no interest” to him at the time plus the subsequent cover-ups show where his priorities really are.

    During the police questioning in Rome he seemed more annoyed than concerned.

    He also seems to believe in his own innate God-given supremacy over others and how it should be observed and acknowledged and so must have been quite disappointed in the outcome of his trial. Typically he has shown little or no concern for his accusers.

  55. corvus boreus

    Richard Mullins offers the idea that Cardinal Pell was framed through a conspiracy concocted between media and judiciary, a conclusion that seems to be mainly based upon a chain of his own assumptions.
    Meanwhile, in the real world, multiple convicted paedophile George Pell is rapidly running out of avenues of appeal.

  56. Richard Mullins

    corvus, it does not need to be a conspiracy concocted between media and judiciary. Any more than the for chamberlian case. A percentage of the population are evidently wired to “get off”, if I can use that phrase, on making vile accusations. In other words, there is no need to pay a parade of false accusers. Of course, for all I know, some were counting on a payout.

    kind regards,
    Richard Mullins

  57. A Commentaror

    This is an interesting and indicative exchange over many months and years. It is worth reviewing the preconceptions about guilt and innocence

  58. Richard Mullins

    Come again, Miriam English. Paul Bongiono. I’ll bet he would have been shit scared to say anything in support of Pell (such as, like Pell, he also shared accommodation, as a priest, with Searson). .He is an esteemed journalist, probably with ABC connections. You say “I don’t even know who he is”. You are remarkably ill informed for someone willing to circulate scuttlebutt about Pell.

    Kind regards,
    RIchard Mullins

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