by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. •

SYDNEY, Australia

( – A jury has found Cdl. George Pell guilty on all counts related to sexually abusing two altar boys.

According to sources who spoke to The Daily Beast, a jury returned a unanimous verdict Tuesday against the Australian cardinal after three days of deliberation. Further details are unavailable as the court has issued a suppression order to Australian media to “prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.” A previous trial resulted in a hung jury.

Pell had been accused of molesting two altar boys during a swimming trip in the 1990s, when he was bishop in Ballarat, a town northwest of Melbourne. Pell has vigorously denied the allegations, and his attorney, Robert Richter, said in 2017 that there is “voluminous” evidence to show that “what was alleged is impossible.” Pell has vigorously denied the allegations. Although multiple accusations were levelled at the cardinal initially, the court threw out most of them.
Pell was named the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy in 2014, making him the third highest-ranking cleric in Rome. He was brought in ostensibly to clean up Vatican finances, exercising oversight over Vatican properties and personnel.
His proposed reforms, however, which included demands for greater transparency, met with resistance. According to Vatican expert, Edward Pentin, the “Old Guard” resisted reform out of fears it would reveal their corruption.

Pope Francis restricted Pell’s powers without notice in a motu proprio he issued in 2016. And a financial audit by the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was cut short by the Secretary of State after only four months.

One source who spoke with Pentin complained that the reforms were “dead, over, finished, they’ve been blocked.”

“The corruption continues; it’s just better concealed,” the inside source added, saying Vatican finances had returned to being as bad as they were before Pell’s reforms, and possibly worse.

Libero Milone, the Vatican’s auditor general, initially put in place to implement reforms, was fired in 2017, the Vatican accusing him of “spying” on officials. Milone, however, claims it was the other way around: The Vatican was spying on him, and he was fired because he had discovered financial irregularities that threatened Vatican officials.
One week later, Pell also left the Vatican’, granted permission by Pope Francis to stand trial in Australian court over charges of “historical sexual offenses.”

“All along I have been completely consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations,” Pell said at the time. “News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return here back to Rome to work.”

Some have called out the pope for an apparent double standard: In September he had refused to allow Cdl. Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to stand trial for allegations of sex abuse cover-up, citing sovereign immunity.

Clergy Abuse Survivors Share Stories At Emotional First Listening Session

Clergy Abuse Survivors Share Stories At Emotional First Listening Session

November 29, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Filed Under:Bishop David Zubik, Local TV, Pam Surano, Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, St. Paul Cathedral

Survivors and parishioners came out to St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland on Thursday night for the first of four listening sessions since the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse.

Similar sessions are already being held in in the Greensburg Catholic Diocese.

But organizers in the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese are hoping to create a safe space so everyone can work through the healing process together.

Bishop David Zubik sat at the altar listening as one-by-one the faithful stood before him to share their pain and anger over the scandal.

“I was overcome with emotion. I spoke all across the state and didn’t have this problem until tonight, but I felt a sense of community that I haven’t felt for a long time,” said Jim VanSickle, a survivor of clergy abuse.

Nancy Pieffer, another survivor who became a social worker and advocate for rape victims, spoke for the first time publicly at the session. There was not a dry eye as she recounted the horror of her abuse as a child at the hands of a priest.

“I’m sure as I hold this experience, I will just feel the depth and the breadth of people standing for me,” said Pieffer.


You and your lot are all “money grabbers”

Mark Stephen Murray@MarkStephenMur2

“At times it seems that protecting the institution is a higher goal than caring for victims” said Deacon Robert Sondag.

That’s the case with the Italian Comboni Missionary Order.

“Money grabbers” were the words shouted at me by the Comboni Vice Superior of their Mother House in Verona to describe victims and survivors.
This verbal abuse took place just after I had met my childhood abuser, Fr.Nardo – he stated he was “very very sorry” – I then forgave him.

Our Own Way Through Hell – The Person They Killed –Extracts from Boy X’s Last Letter

I suppose we all have, to a great extent, to find our own way through the hell that was forced on us by being abused and by being the captives of a system, a religion, that has always been about control. control of the mind by means of instilling fear, shame and guilt.

When it comes to Mirfield, I must admit that my thoughts and feelings are full of confusion and contradictions.

There are things I hate about Mirfield and there are things I love. I can understand why others who were fortunate enough to not be victims of the abuse, have fond memories of Roe Head. The more I remember my early days there, before the abuse started, which ruined my life, the more I know I was once in a place where I was happy. I certainly was not aware of any of the points I made earlier about theism and organised religion, so that didn’t bother me. I suppose that was a case of ‘ignorance is bliss’.

I can see the possible benefits that revisiting Mirfield might bring, perhaps the possibility of exorcising some demons. I suppose it would all depend on the intent of the visit. But there is another side to it,something that frightens me even more. I feel that if there is any place in this world that might throw me into still further confusion it would be Mirfield. I ask myself if I really want to revisit a place and time where a big part of me still is.

I know this may sound rather off the wall, but I am still drawn to the good things, the good memories. I know that this is a case of emotion defeating reason but perhaps it might have something to do with my memories of the good things being so much in contrast with the bad things, the good things representing the former me,the person I was, the person they killed. That person I was, would have grown into a better person with a different life than the disaster that my life became.

The more I remember my former self the more I long to return to 1963 when I first set foot in Roe Head. It was a wonderful time of my life and I miss it so much. Something I have said before, something that still remains with me, it’s strange how long suppressed memories from over half a century ago escape when allowed to and become just as vivid as things right now . Perhaps it’s better to try and keep them securely locked away even though that doesn’t really help deal with the problem.

The faces of friends are as clear as they were then and with that comes that realisation it’s where I have have been all along. I do understand the problem. It’s like never growing up ,never growing old, never moving on, never maturing, just transforming into the unacceptable.It’s being back in a world never really left. It has always linguered there somewhere in my mind but now can become as real as today’s reality. It all comes to life . Forever looking for something lost, something stolen,something precious and irreplaceable.

I did go through a phase just recently when I welcomed remembering more of the good things because it did seem to bring some comfort, But now, it only brings feelings of despair. Despair in knowing that it’s all gone. I don’t know what else to say. Perhaps I’m mourning my dead self, as someone suggested. So that is my dilema. I’m not sure I could face going to Roe Head only to find an empty, bare landscape. It’s the same with reunions. I don’t know that I could face meeting again those I remember from Mirfield and by doing so have to then face the stark reality that Roe Head and my friends are gone forever. It’s just all confusion but I suppose I should be thankful that I am aware of the problem regardless of how painful that is.


I live in hope Bishop Scicluna that the Comboni Order will listen to you this time.

I would like you to take a special interest in the document that Vincent Nichols handed, three years ago, to the Vatican outlining 1000 crimes of sexual abuse by Comboni missionary priests at their child UK seminary.

We wait a reply


The Accountability of Church Leaders – By Marie Collins, 13th November 2018

The Accountability of Church Leaders

By Marie Collins
13th November 2018

The USA bishops had apparently intended to bring in a strong policy to hold their bishops accountable in regard to the abuse of minors. The Vatican has stepped in to prevent this happening. After this can anyone still believe that those in the Vatican see the accountability of church leadership as a priority? This latest objection by the Vatican Congregation for Bishops to the implementation of strong accountability measures in the USA mirrors the reaction, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the PCPM recommended accountability tribunal in 2015.

The accountability measure recommended by the PCPM included a change in Canon Law which would cede power to discipline bishops from the Pope to the CDF. The Pope approved this as he announce the tribunal would go ahead as recommended. As we know it never happened as the CDF found Canon Law problems and insisted it was not necessary anyway as enough provisions were already there.

In August in Dublin Pope Francis insisted to me that a new accountability process, in line with his moto proprio ‘As a Loving Mother’ was being implemented and bishops were being held accountable by him. This new process he told me is not consistent across all bishops but has different standards according the culture of the bishop. He later dismissed the concerns I had expressed about this as a “fixation” on accountability. Behind the Vatican objections is their absolute conviction that Canon Law is more important than any other consideration. Having an inability to accept that if any law prevents proper child protection and discipline of negligent leaders then it has to change. Christ did not write Canon Law men did and men can change it. All that is needed is the will to do so.

The current situation is untenable. Ad hock investigations taking place in some cases and different sanctions or none at all being determined by the “culture” of the bishop. As we saw at the recent Synod there are many bishops who cannot agree what constitutes abuse or even deny it is happening in their “culture”.

It is up to the Pope and his Vatican departments to cease pandering to these attitudes and drop their own fixation with Canon Law. They have to make it clear that every church leader must accept what constitutes child abuse and then enforce universal, strong best practice child protection policies including consistent sanctions for any bishop or other church leader failing to protect the vulnerable. In February The Pope should present the leaders of the world’s bishops’ conferences with three documents – all to be made public:

1. A paper setting out what constitutes abuse of a minor in clear and unambiguous terms.

2. A comprehensive, best practice, safeguarding policy (including care of victims)

3. An accountability policy setting out clearly the sanctions which will be applied to any bishop ignoring 1 & 2 and failing to protect minors or covering for an abuser.

Every representative at the meeting should be requested to sign and accept that their region will abide by these documents. If any refuse then this fact and their reasons for doing so should be made public. No more obsession with secrecy. In the future all findings of guilt in regard to any church leader and the sanction being applied must be made public. There has to be an end to the fear of scandal and the culture of unexplained “resignations”. If none of this happens then it is up to the Catholic faithful to raise their voices and refuse to accept the maneuverings of these men in their clerical bubble.

What Questions does the Church Need to Answer if They Wish to Keep Children and Vulnerable Adults safe from Harm and Improve Justice for Victims/Survivors?

These would be Mine:

Why are the strongest possible safeguarding policies, with the strength of canon law behind them, not being implemented in every diocese and congregation around the world? The USA is the only country to have a policy which is normative but every child is equally precious, where he or she lives should not decide whether they will be safe or left at risk of harm.

Why are there no robust transparent structures in place to hold accountable those in leadership who protect a predator? These structures should hold all fully accountable with strong sanctions for the guilty – dismissal from their post, removal of their titles and privileges and if necessary laicization.

How can the Church on the one hand claim to be on the side of the victims/survivors while at the same time fighting against the removal of statutes of limitation in various countries. If removed or dropped more accused could be criminally prosecuted and if guilty the victims/survivors receive justice? The actions are contrary to the words – why?

Why is real zero tolerance not in place globally to ensure any priest who sexually abuses a child is removed from the church immediately. If there is no canon law provision in existence to do this then why not bring in a new law?

Why is the Pontifical Secret used in cases of abusing priests’ canon law trials, this restricts victims/survivors legal rights to information, files etc. The Pontifical Secret was not intended to be used in his way. A year ago the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors recommended its removal from these cases but it is still in place. Why?

Cardinal Nichols, Comboni victims and survivors are suffering.

Cardinal Nichols, you took a document of 177 pages relating to an estimated 1000 acts of sexual abuse at the Comboni Order, Uk, child seminary, and handed it to the Vatican CDF. We wait for yours, and the Church’s response to the document.

Comboni victims and survivors are suffering. We want to be listened to.

Offering prayers is not helpful.

Mark Stephen Murray