George Pell: everything except his testimony spoke of power


The cardinal had many complaints. He was determined to apologise. But he did not go gently

The cardinal’s colour rose all afternoon. He smiled once or twice after negotiating a difficult passage. He clasped and unclasped his hands, never quite in prayer. He droned. He snapped. He stared at the six members of the Victorian parliament’s family and community development committee with a gaze that seemed focused somewhere south of Macquarie Island.

But the former archbishop of Melbourne was in the room. That was the triumph the gallery of victims and the parents of victims was enjoying. They didn’t expect anything new from him – Cardinal Pell is not a man known for changing course – but he was in Melbourne answering questions. He identified his team of advisers. “All of them,” he told the committee, “married people with children, keen to help us with this fight.”

He had many complaints. He complained he hadn’t been called to give evidence months ago; that he wasn’t allowed to make an opening statement; that the church had experienced “25 years of hostility from the press”; that the Victorian government “was not active earlier” on child abuse, and that he was so often misunderstood: “I have always been on the side of the victims.”

No one rose when he came into the room. He was in civvies: white shirt, no jewellery, his head bowed under the weight of the mitre he wasn’t wearing. A fortnight shy of his 72nd birthday, Pell is a big man with strength in reserve. His voice is masculine but oddly refined: Oxford over Ballarat.

Everything about him except his testimony spoke of power. “I am not the Catholic prime minister of Australia,” he assured the committee. He downplayed his authority; his friendship with Benedict XVI, and his influence in Rome and his hold over his fellow bishops. He spoke of the church in Australia as if it were an ungoverned archipelago of parishes and diocese and religious orders.

He admitted his church had covered up abuse for fear of scandal; that his predecessor Archbishop Little had destroyed records, moved paedophile priests from parish to parish and facilitated appalling crimes. He agreed Little’s behavior was reprehensible, not Christlike.

“Did you ever transfer a priest about whom you knew there were allegations of child abuse?” asked pugnacious former journalist and deputy chair of the committee, Frank McGuire.

“I don’t believe I did. I never meant to. I don’t believe I did. And therefore I’m quite happy to say I didn’t.”

“Did you in any way cover up offending?”


“Were you guilty of wilful blindness?’’

“I certainly wasn’t.”

But as archbishop of Melbourne he had, he conceded, continued to pay a stipend to Father Ronald Pickering who vanished to England in 1993 after child abuse allegations began to be made. Pickering refused to assist the police, refused to help the church insurers and refused to come back to Melbourne to face the music. But Pell kept paying his “frugal” allowance.


Written By: David Marr
continue to source article at


  1. Repeating myself from Twitter but BULLSHIT! Members of The Church who reported directly to Cardinal Pell knew of priests committing illegal and immoral acts in the late 1980s. I am hard pressed to believe Pell himself remained unaware.

  2. He probably thinks he’s telling the truth. After all, all the other things he believes in are untrue.

  3. “I have always been on the side of the victims.”

    Yes, I was afraid he was going to say that.

  4. Pell said he didn’t believe he had any part in covering up for or hiding abusive priests , If you had been asked this question and you were genuinely innocent you would answer “No absolutely not”….but he answered “I don’t believe I did” ?? that’s religious code language for… I’m guilty, but I will not tell…Of course he knew….
    His answers smack of lies, cover-up, personal guilt and corruption. Predator Priests should be treated more severely than common criminals, because this is institutional abuse with few convictions – Religion must get no special treatment or protections – its an outrage….shame on you religion.. yet again – If you really cared about the victims you wouldn’t care about a scandal – double standards?

  5. That one can move priests from parish to parish makes it sound very governed. The ungoverned slant must be a mistake.

  6. “I have always been on the side of the victims.”

    Apparently on the backs of the victims as well, along with an increasing number of the clergy. Pedophiles belong in jail and ostracized by the general public in perpetuity. Send them off to their god along with the Muslim clerics.

  7. There once was a Cardinal Pell

    Who had a few porkies to tell

    “I’m on victims’ side

    I’ve nothing to hide.

    I think we paid them off well.”

  8. For Oz Catholic minors who were abused and sworn to silence on pain of excommunication, what’s worse, being sent to the fiery lake for eternity, or being sent to Pell?

    And this is the imbecile who doesn’t know his Neanderthals from his Homo Erectus, and yet he can lecture us about Adam and Eve and original sin ! Brass monkeys don’t have the balls to take on this theological twister !

    A man walked on water, – oh sure that’s fine by me.
    A priest rapes a child, – oh sorry I didn’t hear that.

    I just hope this man does not live happily with his conscience, but I fear he does.

  9. I wish he was made to swear on the Bible, I suspect it would make no difference to his testimony. Aiding and abetting a phediphial by continuing to employ or pay his stipend, how is that not a crime? I thought not reporting a crime was a crime in itself. How many pediphials have been de frocked by Pell or the church, I’m sure the answer is none and that says it all. The Church itself needs to be held responsible not just individuals.

  10. The Guardian video is a snippet so I don’t really know if, in fact, the first official sentence he uttered was, “I’m happy to accept the invitation of the Premier…” but regardless, commenting about a so-called “invitation” sure looks like a tactical maneuver to display power right from the start as opposed to humility, honesty, and contrition.

    I remain unconvinced that the pressure and incentives to lie have been removed from the episcopal environment of the Catholic Church.


  11. If the silence was a coverup to protect the reputation of the church, obviously the people who orchestrated the coverup knew what was going on or it would never have occurred to them a coverup was needed.

    His argument is similar to: “Yes we molested children and lied to cover up, but it is all your fault for not stopping us.”

    It is illogical to say “I apologise for myself, but I did not do anything wrong.” He could logically apologise on behalf of the church. He could regret his incompetence at monitoring.

  12. He had many complaints. He complained he hadn’t been called to give evidence months ago;

    So what?

    that he wasn’t allowed to make an opening statement;

    Twice so fecking what?

    that the church had experienced “25 years of hostility from the press”;

    Thrice so fecking what?

    that the Victorian government “was not active earlier” on child abuse,

    So he has sloping shoulders but unfortunately this kind of shit doesn’t slide off

    and that he was so often misunderstood:

    Er no, it is now understood that people like Pell do not know the truth and have delusionary formal rational mental mechanisms that make the improbable coherent in their own deluded litle world.

    “I have always been on the side of the victims.”

    This is about as convincing as catlick dogma. He’s kidding no one.

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