Category Archives: Australia

The standard of the royal commission

George Weigel reflects on the standard of the royal commission that treated Cardinal Pell so shabbily. He makes the case that the commissioners, under no strict judicial rules, were fatally influenced by their biases. Not a little cowardice was perhaps also in the mix.

The Biases of the Royal Commission

George Weigel, First Things, 17 June 2020

A brief dip into Latin helps us understand how preconceptions can lead to biased judgments that falsify history—as they did when an Australian Royal Commission on sexual abuse recently impugned the integrity of Cardinal George Pell.  

The Latin maxim is quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur—literally, “what is received is received according to the mode [or manner, or condition] of the receiver.” Less literally, the maxim holds that our predispositions—our mental filters—color our perceptions. Put another way, we often perceive things not as they are but because of what we are.

However abstract it may seem at first blush, the maxim is confirmed by everyday experience. People draw different conclusions about the same facts, the same personalities, and the same situations. More often than not, those differences are explained by different filters at work in our minds.

Which brings us to the misconceptions and prejudices surrounding Cardinal George Pell. 

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The BIGOTED SCRIBBLINGS of the ABC’s Louise Milligan

One must be continually reminded of the appalling standard of Louise Milligan’s book CARDINAL which has filled the pig’s trough of anti-
Catholic literature. This is the standard of thinking of Australia’s left.

Reviewed by Gerard Henderson

Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell 
By Louise Milligan,

– With a memoir piece from John Clifton who attended St Francis Xavier private school – the Ballarat school George Pell ministered to in the 1970s.

According to Melbourne University Press, Cardinal uncovers “uncomfortable truths about a culture of sexual entitlement, abuse of trust and how ambition can silence evil” in the Catholic Church.  In an email forwarded to me on 30 May 2017, MUP chief executive Louise Adler wrote that Cardinal is an “important contribution to the community’s understanding of the Catholic Church’s response to child abuse”.  Ms Adler was defending Louise Milligan’s refusal to answer questions about Cardinal – despite the fact that her journalistic career has been built on asking questions of others.

In fact, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell is neither of the above.  Cardinal  does not uncover “uncomfortable truths” about the Catholic Church.  The scandal of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been known for decades.  Nor is the book a contribution to “the community’s understanding of the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse”. As the author acknowledged when interviewed on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on 17 May 2017, Cardinal was written “from the complainants’ point of view”.

So Cardinal is not an objective analysis of either the Catholic Church or Cardinal George Pell.  Rather, it is the case for the prosecution – primarily researched by ABC journalist Louise Milligan while working for the taxpayer funded public broadcaster.

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The Royal commission – no justice for Cdl Pell

Gerard Henderson of the Sydney Institute has been at the forefront of the sustained criticism of the royal commission into clerical child sexual abuse and the legal fiasco of Cardinal Pell’s trials. He has taken apart the arguments condemning the cardinal. In particular, he destroyed the case run by Louise Milligan, leaving that deluded ABC flunkey nothing to say other than that Henderson defends paedophiles. That’s her stock reply to criticisms she cannot answer.

In his latest article about Cardinal Pell and the royal commission, Henderson is no less compelling in his criticism after the release of the redacted pages, the last great hope of the Pell-haters. His irresistible conclusion is that the Cardinal was denied justice.

*****

Royal commission denies George Pell legal justice

Gerard Henderson

The Sydney Institute, MAY 17, 2020

The ignorance of some journalists never seems to surprise. Take, for example, the release last week of the non-redacted report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse covering its case studies in the Catholic diocese of Ballarat and archdiocese of Melbourne.

Sections of both reports had been delayed pending the result of the outcome of the charges laid against Cardinal George Pell for historical child sexual abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and 1997. On April 7, in a unanimous decision, the High Court quashed Pell’s conviction.

Many of Pell’s media critics, who were disappointed with his acquittal, looked forward to the release of the royal commission’s findings, which they expected to be hostile to Pell. They were not disappointed. Nor should they have expected to be, in view of the hostile reception Pell faced during his appearances before the royal commission comprising close to 20 hours — especially from counsel assisting Gail Furness SC.

Immediately after its release, Nine Entertainment’s Peter FitzSimons, a leading Pell antagonist, referred to the report as “a judgment”. No, it wasn’t. A royal commission is not a court of law. Moreover, in this instance, half of its members did not have legal qualifications.

Royal commissions make findings, not judgments. And their burden of proof is far lower than guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It’s closer to the balance of probabilities that prevails in civil cases.

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Cardinal Pell and mob rule

Pillars of justice abandoned in mob pursuit of George Pell

HENRY ERGAS, The Australian

No matter how dramatic its ­current impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic may, 10 years from now, seem like a seismic shock that strikes, devastates and then recedes, allowing reconstruction to begin.

The case of Cardinal George Pell, on the other hand, highlights a sickness in the body politic that is all the more dangerous for being ongoing, widespread and deeply entrenched.

After all, more than a month has passed since the High Court quashed Cardinal Pell’s conviction, reversing the decision of Victoria’s highest court of appeal. That the Victorian Court of Appeal made grievous errors of law is undeniable. It is, moreover, every bit as certain that those errors capped a long series of missteps, stretching from the initial investigation to the decision to prosecute.

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A targeted assassination

NATIONAL AFFAIRS
Cardinal Pell: The story of a targeted assassination

by Patrick Morgan

News Weekly, May 16, 2020

The pile-on against Cardinal Pell, which began when he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996, has now dragged its weary way through a quarter of a century.

It first manifested itself as an internal insurrection when some local liberal Catholics began to object to his alleged personal style as bullying and authoritarian, though this was based on scuttlebutt, as no actual examples were advanced. On the contrary he was himself publicly humiliated by fellow Catholics on a number of occasions. They disliked him primarily because he asserted basic Christian positions, a grievous fault these days in an archbishop.

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Cardinal Pell’s Inquisition

Peter Westmore attended the Rome interrogation by the Royal Commission’s shameless lawyer who took on the self-appointed role of prosecutor. Like many he was disgusted by the cardinal’s treatment. In the comment below, he refutes the claim by the Pell lynch mob that Fr Pell, as he was in the 1970s, knew and covered up clerical sexual abuse. He makes the obvious point, as others have done, that if Fr Pell in his position knew about the abuse, then so did others.

*****

ROYAL COMMISSION
Hatchet job on Cardinal Pell breached basic principle of fairness

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, May 16, 2020

Findings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Cardinal George Pell covered up allegations of child abuse in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are totally unsupported by the evidence, and constitute an abuse of power by the Commission. They could more accurately be described as accusations.

Nevertheless, the ABC and other sections of the media that for years have been running a vendetta against Cardinal Pell and were clearly unhappy that his conviction for child sex abuse had been overturned in a unanimous judgement of the High Court of Australia, reported the sensational claims at great length.

In doing so, they further trashed the reputation of the first Australian church leader seriously to deal with the problem of child sexual abuse, and the first to set up a redress scheme for victims over 20 years before the Royal Commission recommended such a body.

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The need to investigate the ROYAL COMMISSION INTO INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The Cardinal Pell Affair has not finished by a long shot. There is much still to be said about the legal fiasco of Cardinal Pell’s trials – about the shocking perversion of Victoria’s legal system. There are other matters that also need investigation. For example, a formal body should investigate websites like Broken Rites and groups like the Ballarat Survivors Group. To what extent did these activists contribute to the undermining of Victoria’s legal system? Victoria’s police force is also screaming out for investigation.

At the top of my list for investigation, though, is The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which in a way could be called The Royal Inquisition into the Catholic Church through the Figure of Cardinal George Pell. I’m not the only one to say it. The bias and unseemly aggression with which Cardinal Pell was interrogated belongs to something from the files of Germany’s Gestapo.

Gerard Henderson in his unmissable Media Watch Dog blog made many criticisms of the proceedings of the Royal Commission. Below is one made three years ago which brings into focus the curious case of former priest and leftist scribbler Paul Bongiorno who shared accommodation with Fr Gerald Ridsdale, the worst of the clerical abusers.

Continue reading The need to investigate the ROYAL COMMISSION INTO INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Prominent clergy, laity issue statement exposing coronavirus plot for ‘world govt’

Right from the beginning I had severe reservations about the measures Australia was adopting to deal with the Corona virus. Most governments have adopted the same measures. As time passed, I became increasingly apprehensive about two aspects of the government’s actions.

First, Australia ran the risk of applying measures that would turn out to be much worse than the virus itself. The effects – social and economic collapse with the harm they would produce – would not be short but long term.

Second, it became obvious that the complete shutdown of society was a form of social and political control that could be exploited. There have been no objections from the left who let us know when things are not going their way. Indeed, such widespread control is the aim of all Marxist groups.

A group of high ranking Catholic clergy together with laypeople of similar rank have produced a video which verbalises my growing feelings about the present circumstances.

The two judges

Two Judges and the Baying Mob

Keith Windschuttle, QUADRANT, 12th April 2020

Victoria should join New South Wales in allowing high-profile criminal matters to be heard by a judge alone. Judges, at least, should be above the baying mob.
                                               — The Australian, 8 April 2020

This recommendation from an editorial in The Australian reflected many commentaries on the High Court verdict that freed Cardinal George Pell from prison and overturned his infamous conviction for alleged child sexual abuse. It recognised, rightly, that in high profile cases like this, juries can be swayed by thoughts that are both unreasonable and unjust.

In this case, the editorial reported that a common sentiment heard inside the trial court’s public gallery was: “Even if he didn’t do this he deserves to be punished,” a referral to practices in the Catholic Church to cover up allegations of this kind from the 1950s to the 1980s, long before Pell was in any position in the church to do something about it. In short, some members of the public, that is, potential jurors, think it is OK to make a man a scapegoat for something he didn’t do.

And, as I noted in earlier coverage of this issue in Quadrant, June 2019 (“Why the Second Jury Found George Pell Guilty“), the highly publicised public apology given to victims of child sexual abuse by Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten, recommended to them by the Royal Commission into the subject, was made just sixteen days before the start of Pell’s second trial in Melbourne’s County Court. So the jurors who convicted Pell began their task with the slogan of the apology, ‘I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you’, ringing in their ears. Little wonder they succumbed to this appeal.

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