CARDINAL PELL MUST HAND IN HIS RED CAP – AND POPE FRANCIS MUST ACCEPT
By Brian Mark Hennessy
There is no point “beating about the Australian bush”, the Royal Commission findings on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia are shocking – and are shocking beyond all expectations. This is a Black Day in the history of the Roman Catholic Church as a whole – not just the very “pits” of Australian clerical Catholicism.
In any organization, social or corporate or political, those that controlled the agenda of an edifice which has crumbled so shockingly will “take the rap” and resign. Cardinal Pell of Australia, created the seventh Archbishop of Melbourne on 16 July 1996 and in receipt of a Cardinal’s pallium from Pope John Paul II on 29 June 1997, must except responsibility for his part in the colossal failure of the Catholic Church in Australia to protect children from the cruel degradation of paedophile clerics – and hand in his Cardinal’s tassled, red cap to Pope Francis now. Pope Francis, must accept it and demote him. If he does not do so, this Pope will become a part of the story – and thus from there-on-in, the credibility of the Pontiff, the Vatican Curia and the Catholic hierarchy of Bishops will crumble into dust and ashes.
The very fact that the Australian Bishops will be called to give evidence under oath is witness to the fact that it is known that they covered up clerical child sexual abuse in Australia consistently. Not only that – it speaks volumes about the current view by the Royal Australian Inquiry that these bishops have already forfeited their moral rectitude to tell the truth. Rather than being the very epitome of rectitude and righteousness, they have become the purveyors of a callous cover up and, by their actions of simply moving pedophiles around within their dioceses, the complicit perpetrators of even more child abuse.
Let us not forget the statistics in these cases of abuse:
- Seven per cent of Australia’s Catholic priests have been accused of abusing children in the six decades since 1950, according to new data from the royal commission.
- Up to 15% of priests in some dioceses were alleged perpetrators between 1950 and 2015, with abusers most prevalent in the dioceses of Sale and Sandhurst in Victoria, Port Pirie in South Australia, and Lismore and Wollongong in New South Wales.
- The numbers were even worse in some national Catholic orders. By far the worst was the order of the St John of God Brothers, where a staggering 40% of religious brothers are believed to have abused children.
- 22 % of Christian Brothers and 20% of Marist Brothers, both orders that run schools, were alleged perpetrators.
- More than one in five priests in the Benedictine community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators
- 17.2% of clergy were accused of crimes against children in the Salesians of Don Bosco order.
- Between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse relating to 93 Catholic Church authorities.
- The abuse allegedly took place in more than 1,000 institutions.
- The average age of victims was 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys. The overwhelming majority of survivors were male.
- Almost 1,900 perpetrators were identified and another 500 remained unidentified.
- Thirty-two per cent of abusing clerics were religious brothers, 30% were priests, 29% were lay people and 5% were religious sisters.
- 37% of all sessions held by the Inquiry with survivors from all institutions related to abuse in the Catholic Church.
- Children were ignored or worse, punished.
- Allegations were not investigated.
- Priests and religious [brothers] were moved. The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past.”
- Documents were not kept or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover-ups.”
Everyone will remember today and going forward the interview of Cardinal George Pell when, in response to a question from the Australian Royal Commission in a video link from Rome,
“Ridsdale’s offences were ‘a sad story’ but had not been of much interest to me when they were happening in the 1970s in regional Victoria. I had no reason to turn my mind to the evils that Ridsdale had perpetrated”.
Many and countless Victims of Catholic Clerical abuse around the world have heard the same stories before – and many versions of them. Victims globally have been harassed, disbelieved, castigated, libeled, ignored, even blamed, victimised and re-victimised. Enough is enough! Heads must roll. Cardinal Pell – must show himself to be a man rather than the deaf church mouse he showed himself to be as a Hierarch in Australia in the past – and recently as a Vatican Curia Cardinal when questioned about clerical sexual abuse in Australia. He must quit now to save Catholicism and the Pope in the hearts and minds of world-wide Christendom.