Category Archives: Catholic Church

False charges, unjust sentence and solitary confinement – Australia’s shame

My Time in Prison

George Cardinal Pell, First Things, August 2020

There is a lot of goodness in prisons. At times, I am sure, prisons may be hell on earth. I was fortunate to be kept safe and treated well. I was impressed by the professionalism of the warders, the faith of the prisoners, and the existence of a moral sense even in the darkest places.

I was in solitary confinement for thirteen months, ten at the Melbourne Assessment Prison and three at Barwon Prison. In Melbourne the prison uniform was a green tracksuit, but in Barwon I was issued the bright red colors of a cardinal. I had been convicted in December 2018 of historical sexual offenses against children, despite my innocence, and despite the incoherence of the Crown Prosecutor’s case against me. ­Eventually (in April of this year) the High Court of Australia was to quash my convictions in a unanimous ­ruling. In the meantime, I began to serve my sentence of six years.

In Melbourne, I lived in Cell 11, Unit 8, on the fifth floor. My cell was seven or eight meters long and about two meters wide, just enough for my bed, which had a firm base, a not-too-thick mattress, and two blankets. On the left as you entered were low shelves with a kettle, television, and eating space. Across the narrow aisle was a basin with hot and cold water and a shower recess with good hot water. Unlike in many posh hotels, an efficient reading lamp was in the wall above the bed. Since both my knees had been replaced a couple of months before entering prison, I used a walking stick initially and was given a higher hospital chair, which was a blessing. Health regulations require each prisoner to have an hour outside each day, and so I was allowed to take two half-hours in Melbourne. Nowhere in Unit 8 was there clear glass, so I could recognize day from night, but not much more, from my cell. I never saw the eleven other prisoners.

Read the rest here…

Probing Victoria Police and the Royal Commission

Douglas Drummond, former Queensland Special Prosecutor and a judge on the Federal Court of Australia, has written a powerful piece, fearlessly probing the record of Victoria Police (in particular about the Pell jailing) and the Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse. He is to be commended.

The frightening bias of VicPol and the commission continues to unfold. Australia needs a thorough investigation into the background of the country’s worst ever miscarriage of justice. What happened to Cardinal Pell could happen to anyone.

I have added a tab on Victoria Police to the Cardinal Pell section of my website.

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The Unexplored Shame of Victoria Police

by Douglas Drummond, Quadrant, 3 July 2020

The Catholic Church and its bishops have been subjected to a lot of deserved criticism by the Royal Commission, the media, survivors and others for their failures to deal with the sexual abuse of children by priests, particularly over the decades from the 1960s to the 1990s. Victoria Police has largely escaped criticism, though it made similar failures during this same period.

At the first public session of the Commission in August 2015, it said that, as well as religious institutions, were police force were one of the types of institutions it would be investigating.

Catholic Diocese of Ballarat

In its Final Report in Case Study 28, the Royal Commission said: “The scope and purpose of Part Two of that case study involving the Ballarat Diocese was to inquire into:

1. the response of the Diocese and of other Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat to allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy or religious

2. the response of Victoria Police to allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy or religious which took place within the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat”.

The Commission made a full inquiry into the first item. But its inquiry into the second item was in a number of respects surprisingly deficient.

Gerald Ridsdale

Ridsdale (right) was probably the worst of the many paedophile priests in Victoria, if not Australia. Much of his offending took place in parishes in the Ballarat Diocese. The Commission noted Ridsdale was convicted in 1993, and later, of sexual offences against a total of 65 children as young as four which occurred from the 1960s until the 1980s. This was only part of his criminal activities: according to The Age report of June 14, 2002, [“Ballarat’s good men of the cloth”] just before his first trial in 1993, Ridsdale told his family of his crimes. One family member asked: “How many, Gerald. Four, or five?” “Hundreds,” was his reply.

Read the rest here…

Cdl Pell and the tower of Pisa commission

The Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse leant so far leftwards that it threatened to fall over. Like the Tower of Pisa, the Commission needs some remedial work to prop it up. Chris Friel probes the Get Pell fiasco.

The Royal Commission as a Weapon

Chris S Friel

The Get Pell shot-gun has two barrels, Operation Tethering, the fishing expedition that looked for abuses that the Cardinal himself had committed and, set up at roughly the same time, the Victorian and then Royal Commissions into institutional child sex abuse that focussed on places where Pell lived, Ballarat and Melbourne. This essay will take a look at one aspect of a report on the latter.

The Cardinal was acquitted by the High Court of Australia last month and so the Royal Commission released its previously unredacted sections.i These include references to Pell in “Case 35”on the Archdiocese of Melbourne that among other things relate how he handled Peter Searson when in1989 he received a delegation from concerned teachers. My focus will be the way the commissioners tried to support their findings in the light of the evidence. I will explore the question of whether that evidence was weaponised as part of the Get Pell project.

Reading through the report there is no doubt that it is Archbishop Little who is damned for his abject failure to protect children. But as the Twittersphere was quick to point out, the then Auxiliary Bishop was criticised too. One example suffices to make the point:

This is KEY. The commission found “It was incumbent on Pell … with responsibilities for the welfare of the children … to take such action that [pedophile] Father Searson be removed or, at least, a thorough investigation be undertaken.” Searson died in 2009 without facing charges.i

In response, Pell made a statement that included the following:

As an Auxiliary Bishop in Melbourne 1987-96, Bishop Pell met with a delegation from Doveton Parish in 1989 which did not mention sexual assaults and did not ask for Searson’s removal. Appointed Archbishop of Melbourne on 16 August 1996, Archbishop Pell placed Fr Searson on administrative leave in March 1997 and removed him from the parish on 15 May 1997. iii 

Pell expressed surprise at the findings, but in truth they were eagerly awaited by his opponents who correctly sensed that the unredacted version was like Hamlet without the prince. Thus, Louise Milligan had a couple of chapters on the episode in her book, and she was ready with a thread when the full version was finally released.iv

Read the rest here…

Cardinal Pell’s prison journal

Cardinal Pell’s prison journal is around 1000 pages. Ignatius Press will publish it in three or four volumes.

Fr Joseph Fessio, editor of Ignatius Press, is appealing for donations to pay an advance to the cardinal to help him defray the enormous legal costs his defence incurred. Go here to donate to Cardinal Pell’s cause.

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Cardinal Pell’s prison journal will be ‘spiritual classic,’ publisher says.

CNA Staff, Jun 20, 2020

(CNA).- The publisher of the prison diary of Cardinal George Pell said the text reveals the courage, conviction, and Christian charity of the cardinal.

“This journal reveals the Cardinal Pell I know and that every faithful Catholic should get to know,” Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press told CNA June 20.

Pell “proclaimed Christ and the Church’s moral teachings without fear and with full knowledge of what the cost would be. And he paid the price with good humor and, like Christ, a love of his enemies,” Fessio added.

Read the rest here…

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. 

Read the rest here…

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.

Read the rest here…

Cardinal Pell and Suffering

Cardinal talks of ordeal to students

By Staff Writers  Catholic Weekly-June 15, 2020

Christianity “helped me to survive” says Cardinal Pell

Cardinal George Pell has urged university students from across Australia to reflect on the Christian teaching on suffering, offering advice for those experiencing what he called “moments of extremity”.

Patron of the Australian Catholic Students’ Association for close to 20 years, the Cardinal addressed the students at an online retreat held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

Referring to his own 13 months imprisonment, he said there is a lot of goodness in prisons and many others go through much greater suffering than what he experienced.

Read the rest here…

Is the Catholic Church still a missionary Church?

One of Archbishop Vigano’s most pointed criticisms in his condemnation of Vatican II (see previous post) was about ecumenism. The liberal-left and dissident factions of the Council hammered the (alleged) need for the Church to become more ‘ecumenical and pastoral’ in its orientation. In his criticism, the archbishop focused on one of the most controversial sentences in all of the Council documents: ‘Ecclesia Christi subsistit in Ecclesia Catholica‘ – the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.

I have been rather cavalier in presenting my view on this sentence. I understood it to mean (uncontroversially, I thought) that ‘the Church of Christ’ referred to the Church in its pristine purity (the substance) and the Catholic Church to include the fallibility of the human person (the accidents). And if elements of the pristine Church were to be found in other churches, then they were at a stage on the way to the one true Church. Missionary work was required to bring those with a deficient understanding to the full faith.

For example, Dr Taylor Marshall (see previous posts) started out as a fervent baptist. Reflection on his faith brought him to the Episcopal Church in which he became an episcopal priest. The journey of faith continued until he saw the full faith in the Catholic Church. He is now in full missionary mode as a philosopher and theologian. I strongly recommend his youtube videos.

Archbishop Vigano points out how the Second Vatican Council’s documents on ecumenism led to the opposite of this process of conversion. Indeed, conversion was now deemed no longer necessary. One of the (German) bishops at the recent Amazonia Synod was heard to boast that he had not converted anyone in fifty years. Archbishop Vigano:

Together with numerous Council Fathers, we thought of ecumenism as a process, an invitation that calls dissidents to the one Church of Christ, idolaters and pagans to the one True God, and the Jewish people to the promised Messiah. But from the moment it was theorized in the conciliar commissions, ecumenism was configured in a way that was in direct opposition to the doctrine previously expressed by the Magisterium…

Numerous practicing Catholics, and perhaps also a majority of Catholic clergy, are today convinced that the Catholic Faith is no longer necessary for eternal salvation; they believe that the One and Triune God revealed to our fathers is the same as the god of Mohammed…

Thus “Ecclesia Christi subsistit in Ecclesia Catholica” does not specify the identity of the two, but the subsistence of one in the other and, for consistency, also in other churches: here is the opening to interconfessional celebrations, ecumenical prayers, and the inevitable end of any need for the Church in the order of salvation, in her unicity, and in her missionary nature.

What does the Gospels say? The Gospel for Trinity Sunday (2 weeks ago) has the crucial passage:

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth. Going, therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days, even to the consummation of the world. Matt: 28, 18-20

This is one of those scriptural passages that could hardly be clearer. It renders those promoting an interpretation of ecumenism based on the so-called ‘spirit’ rank heretics.

The Catholic Church is prescriptively a missionary Church.

The Conciliar Series

I have begun a series of novels that has as its background the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (1965-1975). The Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council was part of this cultural revolution. The bishops in St Peter’s of Rome (1962-1965) had imbibed from the same cup of radical anti-Catholic, anti-Christian civilization philosophies driving the mob in Paris in 1968.

The location of the stories in the Conciliar Series will mostly be in Holland and Australia. The first book in the series TIMES OF DISTRESS plays out in Holland, Australia, and New Guinea.

The Parallel Church of Vatican II

Michael Matt of Remnant Newspaper comments on Archbishop Vigano’s condemnation of Vatican II

VIGANÒ on REVOLUTION in the CHURCH: “From Vatican II onwards, a parallel church was built…”

Over the past half century of crisis in the Catholic Church, one of the main points of division among Tradition-minded Catholics centered around the question of whether there was something inherently contrary to Tradition about the Second Vatican Council itself, or was it merely the Modernist interpretations of the Council that flowed abundantly into the lifeblood of the Church after the close of the Council in 1965.

Over the past few decades, many conservative commentators were ready to admit that the so-called “Spirit of the Council” had led to much devastation in the Church. But they parted company with those of us who felt obliged in conscience to point out that at least some of the sixteen documents themselves were inherently at odds with the constant magisterial teaching of the Church.

In essence, this has been at the heart of the debate for over fifty years.  It divided my own family, in fact, and eventually left my father with no choice but to leave The Wanderer and found The Remnant in 1967.  In his mind, it was not merely a question of abuse—either of doctrine or liturgy—but rather that Vatican II represented a fundamental and orchestrated reorientation of the Church in the spirit of the modern world.

For many good Catholics (who knew something had gone terribly wrong), it seemed the more prudent course of action to hope and pray that faulty interpretations of the Council would eventually work themselves into a hermeneutic of continuity with Tradition and all would end well. For fifty years, this kept them largely silent in the face of radical novelty never before seen in the history of the Church.

Read the rest here…