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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
In January this year (2020), the ABC favoured the viewer with a flashy promo for their 2020 productions and imports. I thought to myself, well, this is something new. While the Marxist clique running the ABC has tried in the past to paper over their Marxist agenda, they have now dropped all pretence. Their frankness about their programs’ themes and preoccupations was almost disarming. In the current jargon, the ABC clique has come out proudly woke and are now geared up for a massive exercise in mass manipulation.
At the top of the clique’s list, the flag-bearer for the Marxist assault, is a three-part series on the Catholic Church. The series is titled REVELATION. Get it? The subtle Bible reference? Long-time faithful ABC foot soldier Sarah Ferguson was selected to front the series. Here is the ABC’s promo with a rather flattering photo of Ferguson (nothing wrong with that) against a background created by their best graphic designers (guess the significance of the nail and the faded cross):
Award-winning reporter Sarah Ferguson presents REVELATION, a ground-breaking documentary series on the criminal priests and brothers of the Catholic Church, their crimes laid bare for the first time in their own words.
One assumes the series is ground-breaking only because the ABC has enticed two priests serving long prison sentences to speak about their criminal abuse of pubescent boys. It can’t be for a general exposing of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. As anti-Catholic central, as bad as the worst of the bigoted Orangemen associations, the ABC has surely milked the sordid criminal story for all its worth, their burning zeal culminating in Australia’s very own Alfred Dreyfus Affair.
What could the confessions of the two priests add? And why does the ABC need three programs? An enormous amount of work goes into one investigative documentary. So, what has Ferguson and the ABC’s billion-dollar support staff dug up or concocted to fill the documentary equivalent of a Cecil B DeMille production? First, let me outline what they won’t talk about. In his popular Media Watch Dog (No. 488, 13 March), Gerard Henderson runs through the ABC neglect, hiding or suppression of important information about clerical and non-clerical sexual abuse.
Ferguson will ignore the same proportional level of sexual abuse in other associations (private, religious and governmental), creating the widely held belief that the incidence of sexual abuse is much higher in the Catholic Church. She will not mention that the greatest incidence of child abuse is within the circle of family and friends. Richard Neville’s confessed ‘hurrican f…’ with a 14-year-old schoolgirl will be passed over together with his counterculture book Play Power which contains an implicit approval of adult-child sex relations.
She will skip over the sexual abuse of poet Dorothy Hewitt’s daughters by Hewitt’s bohemian circle of friends. Bob Ellis was one to enjoy her daughters. Speaking about the experience later, daughter Rozanna said, ‘We were brought up in a very bohemian environment and some of those experiences were worse than others.’ Her sister Kate stressed ‘that the incidents that occurred in her childhood weren’t just restricted to the Sydney arts scene. Instead, she said it was part of a larger cultural problem at the time.’ (Sydney Morning Herald’s Dorothy Hewett’s daughters say grown men preyed on them as children.)
This ‘larger cultural problem at the time’ is, I suggest, of fundamental importance in any discussion about the high incidence of sexual abuse from the1960s to the 1990s, not just in religious institutions. (I devote a chapter to the 1960s sexual revolution in my book TONY ABBOTT AND THE TIMES OF REVOLUTION). Nor will Ferguson mention the ABC’s refusal to talk about its own case of child sexual abuse and the favourable comment about pederasty by a former ABC chairman (see Henderson).
Perhaps most telling is the ABC’s looking away from a critical feature of Catholic clerical sexual abuse. Around 80 percent of the cases is about male-on-male or same-sex abuse. The incidence of priestly abuse of pubescence males rose at the same rate as the entry of homosexuals into the priesthood. This a fact. Ferguson will not face the significance. She doesn’t dare. Finally, on these main points, I expect Ferguson and her ABC pals to be ignorant of the investigative work, ironically by traditional Catholic groups, into the homosexual networks in the American Church. There is talk of ‘Lavender Seminaries’ and the ‘gay mafia’. There is plenty of literature on this subject.
The cover-up in many cases was not to protect the institutional church by despicable conservative prelates, but the homosexual networks. The dramatic defrocking of Cardinal McCarrick, de facto leader of the American Church, gives a grisly view of this type of clerical double-cabinet and its protection. Why not in Australia?
What, then, will Ferguson’s three programs be about? I predict that she will use the two priests as a cynical weapon to strike hard and deep into the Catholic Church. I mean the traditional Church of two thousand years, not that of the dissenters and heretics whose parading pretence is nauseating.
Despite the two jailed priests being responsible for their own actions and despite their actions contradicting the Church’s sexual morality, Ferguson and her crew will work to minimise their guilt and shift it to the institutional church. Ultimately, it will be the Church’s beliefs, its structure and its male hierarchy that will be blamed. It will be interesting to see how far she drags Cardinal Pell into her case. You can be sure he’ll be there as ABC enemy No.1 in some form.
The viewer will be treated to the heterodox views of a string of Catholic ‘theologians’ and academics to which will be paid grovelling wide-eyed respect. The dissenters’ favourite causes will pass in review: priestly celibacy, married priests, homosexual relations, indeed, the full parade of LGBTQ+ issues, the lack of women in the hierarchical clergy and in executive positions, in a word, all the feminist demands against a patriarchal church. Ferguson might even extend the blame for the priests’ criminal acts to the prohibition of communion for the divorced and remarried. She might as well throw that in, too.
The object will be to support a fundamental change to the Catholic Church as envisaged by the dissenters, the parallel magisterium, from Vatican II to the papacy of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
I have stuck my neck out. Let’s see if I have to recant. I might add that I have not plucked all this out of thin air. Whether I am right or wrong in the details, what I have outlined is the way the ABC thinks about the Catholic Church.
The first episode of REVELATION will be on Tuesday 17 March 2020.
George Weigel, The Catholic World Report, 6 March 2020
For Cardinal Pell’s sake, and for Australia’s, it must be hoped that, for once, and on its last chance, the Australian justice system will get it right.
On March 11-12, the High Court of Australia will hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his conviction on charges of “historic sexual abuse.” The High Court has seven judges and a majority vote is required to decide an appeal. In a high-profile case like this, it is expected that all seven judges will sit for the appeal, although in some instances only five sit. There is no set time-line for the High Court to render its decision.
Should the High Court reverse Cardinal Pell’s conviction, a verdict of “acquitted” will be entered in his case and the cardinal will be immediately released from prison. Should the High Court uphold the conviction, the reputation of Australian criminal justice will be gravely and permanently damaged, just as the reputation of French military justice was destroyed by the false conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus – another innocent man victimized by rancid politics and irrational religious prejudice.
Canadian Jean Vanier was highly admired for his work with intellectually disabled individuals. News that accusations of ‘sexual misconduct’ against him appeared credible disappointed many Canadians. But instead of regretting the weakness of one man and holding him responsible for his actions, the usual sort of leftist pretend Catholic wanted to blame the Church’s sexual morality for Vanier’s action. Catholics under the influence of Catholic teaching have a ‘deep fear of sexual pleasure’, it is alleged. Donald Demarco in the comment below blows this idea away with some facts about the Church’s teaching. This refutation is relevant to the Pell case and to clerical sexual abuse in general because many (on the left) blame clerical celibacy for the abuse. Such a view cannot be sustained on the evidence. Demarco has written a timely piece in Crisis Magazine.
According to a report released by L’Arche International, Jean Vanier, the Catholic Canadian founder of a network of communities for intellectually disabled individuals, sexually abused at least six women. This news comes as both a disappointment and a shock to all those who regarded Vanier as a man of exemplary virtue.
“I was horrified,” writes Dorothy Cummings McLean for LifeSiteNews, “by revelations that its founder, the late Vanier, has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by six women.” Discretion requires that we not go any further into what the report has revealed. Added to this unhappy revelation, however, is a bizarre criticism of the Catholic Church, as if it were as much to blame for Vanier’s lurid behavior as he was.
In an opinion piece for Canada’s Globe and Mail, Professor Michael W. Higgins (who calls himself a Catholic) stated the following in response to the Vanier revelations: “The deep pathology that runs through centuries of Catholic teaching on sexuality—a pathology marked by a deep fear of sexual pleasure with its body versus spirit dualism—needs to be recognized for its destructive potential. And the aftershocks of patriarchy reverberate throughout all of society. It’s time for a new and healthier anthropology.”
This recent essay in Quadrant by Chris Friel ‘What Everyone has Overlooked‘ should rather be titled, ‘Demonstrating Pell’s accuser lied’. He shows that the accuser’s story of what happened in the priest’s sacristy could not be right. His case is in the open paragraphs:
‘The Crown claimed, and still claim, that the complainant’s credibility was enhanced because he located the wine in the correct area of the sacristy, that is, in the alcove in the corner. To this the defence replied that maybe he got that knowledge from a tour back in 1996. But an attentive viewing of the interview with Pell and the police in Rome shows that originally the complainant did not locate the wine correctly at all. Beyond doubt the original location was a storage area that may be called a kitchenette as it contains two sinks (above). When the complainant visited the sacristy with the police he looked at that kitchenette and said that it was just the same as 1996. But the police were to learn after the interview that in 1996 the “kitchenette” was a wardrobe. The sinks had not been installed and the wood panels that apparently the complainant had described so well were not there. It was used for hanging albs.
‘So it is simply not true that, at first, the complainant correctly located the wine. What he did was place the wine wherein 2016 it might reasonably be thought that the wine would be located – and incidentally, he got the colour of the wine quite wrong, as in 1996 only white was used. What this shows is that he could only have acquired his knowledge at a much later date, either from a visit or from coaching – an explanation that naturally he denied. Manifestly, this puts a completely different light on the complainant’s credibility; indeed, it destroys it. But these facts, which are very clear from open sources, appear not to have been appreciated. It’s important, then, that these points are made known before the High Court rules in a couple of weeks’ time. The jury, which may have been understandably misled by the Crown’s claims, would surely have taken a different view had they understood the evidence properly.’
Read the rest of the essay HERE. This is one of the most important of Chris Friel’s many essays on the Pell Affair. He adds some further explanation in a later essay, The Wine in the Wardrobe Revisited.