Tag Archives: Cardinal George Pell

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.

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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

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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.

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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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PM Morrison carried along by the Pell-haters

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is a good man and a prime minister that conservatives should be relieved to see in the position. It was fortunate he was there to step forward after the terrible Turnbull turmoil. So, it was sad to hear him treat Cardinal Pell as guilty long before the legal process had run its course.

Outstandingly credentialled (in law) Augusto Zimmerman catalogues in the article below the series of Morrison’s rash ill-considered comments about Cardinal Pell’s assumed guilt. Why was he so careless? The answer seems to be that the combined forces of Pell-haters (ABC, Age, SMH, Milligan, Fitzsimons, Marr, etc. etc) had him cowed. Augusto Zimmermann is right. The prime minister owes Cardinal Pell a deep regretful public apology.

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Why ScoMo Owes Cardinal Pell an Apology (And to Every Victim of a Miscarriage of Justice in Australia)

Augusto Zimmermann, The Caldron Pool, 25 May 2020

The High Court’s unanimous acquittal of Cardinal George Pell, after two previous judicial rulings that failed to acknowledge a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt, appears to indicate that the administration of justice in Australia has been corrupted by a desire to persecute and punish, not prosecute justly.

There has been a strong odour of miscarriage of justice about the whole matter. However, when Cardinal Pell was still awaiting trial, the Australian Prime Minister implied his guilt by making statements about those who ‘abused the shield of faith and religion to hide their crimes shall stand condemned’.[1]

Before the High Court finally overruled the Cardinal’s conviction, Scott Morrison stated: ‘Our justice system has affirmed no Australian is above the law’.[2]  Mr Morrison also stated that ‘the courts had done their work well’.

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The redacted pages – The lynch mob goes on the attack

It was no surprise to see the contemptible David Marr give vent to his mind-disturbed anti-Catholic biogtry on the release of the unredacted pages of the Royal Commission’s report about Cardinal Pell. It does not matter how tenuous the connection or how faulty the reasoning the Marr-type will exploit it to its maximum. Of course, the delusional hysterical Louise Milligan was right there with him also giving vent to her hate-filled twisted opinions.

There are three basic issues for me about the Royal Commission. First the RC’s unseemly aggression towards Cardinal Pell as if they had already made a judgement regardless of what he would say. Second, the totally disproportionate focus on the cardinal as if they had already made a judgement. Third, if Cardinal Pell’s counter to the accusations that he ‘knew’ were ‘implausible’ or ‘inconceivable’, why just him?

Remember that Cardinal Pell was an assistant priest in the 1970s and the early years of the 1980s, and a bishop with limited authority and responsibilities in the 1980s. The commission’s pages create a surreal picture of Fr Pell knowing while everyone else in the close company of the abusers wandered around like ghosts unaccountably oblivious to those same acts. Former priest and leftist scribbler Paul Bongiorno lived with the worst abuser Gerald Ridsdale as did Fr Pell. Nothing to see there, though, for the commission.

I find the use of the words ‘implausible’ and ‘inconceivable’ inappropriate and degrading of the RC’s purpose. The ready response to these two words about Cardinal Pell’s explanations is: ‘says who?’ Indeed, the use of ‘inconceivable’ raises the same issues about reasoning as found in the majority judgment in supreme court appeal. Nothing is inconceivable or impossible except a contradiction. If the RC found Cardinal Pell’s explanations ‘inconceivable’, then that’s just their opinion. The commission was not a court case and the information offered the commission distant and extremely limited. Their view smacks of partiality. It has Daniel Andrews’ sickening odour all over it.

Andrew Bolt covers some of these points in an interview with Peter Westmore who attended of the sessions of cardinal Pell’s trails.

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 responds to the redacted commission papers

STATEMENT FROM CARDINAL GEORGE PELL

 7 May 2020

Cardinal Pell said he was surprised by some of the views of the Royal Commission about his actions. These views are not supported by evidence.

He is especially surprised by the statements in the report about the earlier transfers of Gerald Ridsdale discussed by the Ballarat Diocesan Consultors in 1977 and 82.

The Consultors who gave evidence on the meetings in 1977 and 1982 either said they did not learn of Ridsdale’s offending against children until much later or they had no recollection of what was discussed. None said they were made aware of Ridsdale’s offending at these meetings.

The then Fr Pell left the Diocese of Ballarat and therefore his position as a consultor at the end of 1984.

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.

ENDS

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.

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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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