Gerard Henderson reviews Louise Milligan’s CARDINAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF GEORGE PELL.
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.