The end of Pell

The most senior Australian Catholic and one of the most senior officials of the Catholic Church globally, George Pell was found guilty of child sexual assault. Pell has been not only a strongly reactionary figure within Catholicism but also in Australian politics. A friend of former PM Tony Abbott, his willingness to lecture the nation on issues of sexual morality was just part of his gamut of far-right opinions. He was happy to use his office to also spread lies about climate change — notably the denialist Global Warming Policy have since scrubbed his 2011 speech endorsing their positions but Trump’s EPA lead Scott Pruitt also sought to recruit Pell as a voice to boost global warming denial.

The man has been a personification of the bully, both in how he treated victims and families of victims of abuse within Catholic organizations but also in his wider political stances in which he always chose to boost the rich & powerful and target the marginalized and vulnerable. We now know that the tendency to abuse authority had a more direct and evil aspect to it.

A side aspect of the case has been the court’s suppression order of the verdict. Pell was found guilty in December but the Australian press has only been able to legally report on the verdict since yesterday. The restriction was due to a second set of charges against Pell that would need to have been tried separately with a new jury. This second trial was unable to proceed and hence the suppression order was lifted.

There is much wailing about this in the media. The Daily Beast back in December simply ignored the order and reported on the verdict. Other outlets have been more responsible. Yet we still have the press complaining about it (eg this Guardian piece https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/commentisfree/2019/feb/27/pells-trial-shows-courts-cant-keep-secrets-in-the-internet-age )

I was aware of the verdict prior to the lifting of the order but I know many Australians who were not and only found out about it yesterday. To that extent the order did what it needed to do: make it possible that a jury could be empaneled to hear the second case. A right to a fair trial is more important than immediate press coverage, even for an appalling person like Pell. It is important not just for the rights of accused but also for victims. A delay in press coverage hurt nobody and didn’t help Pell — his reputation and status was not protected by the delay. Media outlets just have to get over themselves, confusing the importance of free-speech with a need for immediacy and being the first, is not a net benefit to anybody. A modicum of patience so that intrinsically traumatic legal processes can be conducted humanely for all involved manifestly is more important.


13 thoughts on “The end of Pell

  1. It may be the end of Pell, but all the people who helped him are still there in the Catholic clergy, all the Catholic legislators who used him to advance far right agendas and naked greed are still there legislating. He’s a high profile get, but the Catholic church’s practices and theocracy haven’t changed in decades, despite the occasional high profile conviction or conspiracy revelation. I hope it brings his victims some comfort though.

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    1. Has the Church made no changes?
      I know that the Boy Scouts instituted a bunch of new policies to protect boys a decade ago -good policies. I don’t know what, if anything, the Catholic Church has done, but all the cases I see in the press concern things that happened over a decade ago not recent behavior. So I wonder if the Church did make some changes after the first scandals? Or is there a big batch of stuff not yet reported?

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  2. I did hear about it in December, though not immediately (not until a couple of weeks after he was suddenly and mysteriously removed from his position at the Vatican), and I was really astonished about how quiet it had been kept in this day and age.

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  3. I am increasingly convinced that the Catholic Church in general has become entirely subject to homosexual pedophiles.

    Recent conversations with family in Europe had this topic come up and their responses varied between “Yeah, pretty much” to “You don’t know the half of it”.

    In the long run the Orthodox may end up being proved right simply by being the only ones left (given how fast Protestant churches are emptying).

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    1. It’s a hard point to get across to people, but we don’t consider pedophiles to be gay, even if most of them are exclusively into little boys. Pedophiles appear to have a unique sexual orientation–one focused only on prepubescent children. This separates them completely from gay adults (or straight adults, for that matter), who are only interested in other adults. (Or at least sexually mature individuals.) I’m not sure what a pedophile experiences, but I’m pretty sure it’s very different from what I experience.

      For decades, the church slandered gay people, calling us all pedophiles, even though someone who expresses a sexual interest in another adult (of either gender) is almost certainly not a pedophile. The irony is that although we weren’t molesting children, they were. We’re not going to let them try to stick this on us now.

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      1. They aren’t gay; they are fixated on children, frequently because they were sexually abused themselves as children, though that link is still being researched. While some of them have a gender preference, most of them simply target children by access. A lot of the incest cases are of girl children because male relatives can get access to those children more than they can unrelated girls. Men who aren’t related are more likely to be given access to boys, such as youth counselors. Male clergy have access to both girls and boys but are frequently given more access to boys.

        The Protestant and Evangelical Protestant churches are having the exact same issue, (see Southern Baptists who are having their own scandal and convictions right now.) Clergy of every Christian sect and of every other organized religion have very good access to children and routinely it’s discovered that some of those clergy are pedophiles and in most cases, the religious institution covers it up and shields those clergy from legal prosecution, often for decades, and paying out in private settlements if necessary. Ditto physical abuse of children and sexual assault on adults.

        A lot of people have left the Christian churches due to this. But another large reason numerous, and often younger people, have been leaving Christian churches and other faiths is the anti-LGBTQ+ stance and oppression efforts against gay civil rights of many sects and parishes. Another reason is the abusive and discriminatory positions towards women of many conservative sects, including the insistence that women do not own their own bodies and medical fertility and should be forced to breed, stay in physically abusive marriages, and be financially controlled by men.

        All of which is part of an authoritarianism that is practiced by many religious sects and which offers a safe hunting ground for pedophiles in those religious institutions. Authoritarianism is not endemic to only religion (see the white due atheists,) nor is authoritarianism required to have organized religion, but the combination, along with the authoritarian goals of theocracy efforts to control political power, is making people leave those religious sects in droves and souring them on the whole enterprise.

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      2. The things in common with all of these cases are pretty much that someone:
        1) has an interest in abusing children for their own pleasure
        2) has trusted access to children because of their position
        And has the backing of an organization that:
        3) has the resources to cover things up
        4) is embedded enough in the community that being cut off would be seen as a bad thing by the family (see: threats of excommunication)
        The only part that’s really religion-specific part for the organization is:
        5) can hypocritically claim to have access to true morality and therefore cannot be criticized on that basis.

        None of that really has anything to do with homosexuality. Certainly with the Catholic church the main reasons that most of the stories we here are about boys are because boys are more likely to be left alone with older priests for training, and because the homosexuality angle can be played by the reporters to make it sound even more horrific (to their main audience) than it already is. There have been lawsuits and charges from abused young girls, but they tend to get a different reaction from the media, the courts, and the general public, unfortunately.

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  4. Welp, guess who’s popped up to defend Pell?

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      1. Birds of a feather are supposed to stick together and M1lo is on record as being in favour of kiddie-diddling so this news is no surprise to me.

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