Melbourne, Australia, Mar 24, 2018 / 04:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- New accusations were brought forward and others were dropped this week, during a pre-trial hearing in an Australian court regarding abuse allegedly committed by Cardinal George Pell.
The committal hearing for the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy took place at the Melbourne Magistrate Court, and will allow magistrate Belina Wallington to determine whether there is enough evidence for a jury trial.
The total number of charges brought against Pell are not public, although some of the charges previously brought against Pell date as far back as 1961. In January, a key charge against Pell was dropped after the complainant died of leukemia.
Pell, 76, is being represented by four lawyers and intends to plead not guilty if his case goes to trial. He has said that “the whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”
Last summer, Pope Francis granted Pell a leave of absence from his duties as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy while the claims are investigated. Pell is also a member of the Pope’s council of nine cardinal advisers.
Prosecutors said March 23 that some charges against Pell will be dropped because a witness is unable to testify because they are “medically unfit to give evidence.”
The court also heard this week from family members of people against whom Pell allegedly acted inappropriately at a public swimming pool, a showering area, a movie theater, and a church. Other witnesses denied having ever seen Pell acting inappropriately.
The Vatican has refrained from stating a judgement or opinion on the Pell case, pending the outcome of the investigations by the Australian court.
The cardinal’s hearing, which began March 5, is scheduled to conclude March 29.
George Pell: Two Men Allege Cardinal Sexually Offended Against Them as Children at Pool
Two men have alleged Cardinal George Pell sexually offended against them while playing games with them as children at a swimming pool in Ballarat, Melbourne magistrates court has heard. One of the men also alleged he was sexually offended against in the pool change room.
Relatives of the men were cross-examined by Pell’s defence team on Friday. Further description of the charges against Pell cannot be given for legal reasons. The mother of one of the complainants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence to the court via video link.
Pell’s barrister, Robert Richter, asked her about what she recalled while watching her son swimming at the pool. The court heard that after swimming laps Pell would go to the free-play area of the pool where children would play games with him, including being thrown through the air by Pell.
Richter told the mother: “You never observed anything untoward happening”.
“No,” she replied, “because we trusted priests”.
Richter also put it to her that at the time she thought Pell was a “nice man” because he would stay around after swimming laps play in the pool with her children and others.
“I don’t remember thinking that,” the mother replied.
The woman made a signed statement to police in 2015 after one of her son’s friends from that time accused Pell of a sexual offence. The friend has since died, which led to prosecutors withdrawing a charge against Pell before the committal hearing began. Her son then also made allegations against Pell, which the woman said was the first she heard of them. She said when she tried to ask her son for details about it, all he said was “yeah, it was bad”.
Richter put it to her that the comment about the abuse being “bad” was in reference to someone else who allegedly perpetrated a sexual offence against her son. The woman responded he had been talking about what had happened to him at the pool.
Pell, who is 76, is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal. He has taken leave from a position in the Vatican to attend court. He has strenuously denied all allegations.
When the hearing adjourns next Thursday afternoon magistrate Belinda Wallington will need to decide if there is enough evidence to order Pell to stand trial accused of historical sexual offences. Her decision is expected sometime in April.
The committal hearing continues.
The Photo George Pell Lived to Regret: Picture Shows the Accused Cardinal Walking Side-by-side With Australia’s Most Notorious Paedophile Priest
- Controversial photo pictures George Pell with notorious paedophile priest
- Image shows the cardinal supporting disgraced paedophile Gerald Ridsdale
- Pell later became scapegoat for Catholic Church clergy sex abuse crisis
- Australian police have now charged Pell with ‘historic sexual assault offences’
- Cardinal Pell has vehemently denied the allegations
The photograph was striking.
There was George Pell, then an auxiliary bishop, walking side-by-side into court with Gerald Ridsdale, the man later found to be Australia’s worst paedophile priest.
The decision by Cardinal Pell, now a Vatican cardinal, to support his former housemate that day in 1993 led to an image that has lived on in infamy in Australia for more than two decades, creating an image of a man who appeared to be more concerned with protecting the church than its flock.
And it made him something of a PR scapegoat for all that was wrong with how the Catholic Church handled the clergy sex abuse crisis.
Cardinal Pell would later go on to say his support of Ridsdale was a ‘mistake’.
There was George Pell (right), then an auxiliary bishop, walking side-by-side into court with Gerald Ridsdale (left), the man later found to be Australia’s worst paedophile priest
Though Cardinal Pell went on to ascend the ranks of the Catholic Church and become Pope Francis’ chief financial adviser, he would eventually find himself pulled back to Australia.
On Thursday, Australian police charged him with ‘historic sexual assault offences’ making Cardinal Pell the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church’s long-running abuse scandal.
Cardinal Pell has vehemently denied the allegations and vowed to return to Australia to clear his name. But he is likely to face a cool reception in his homeland, where he faced years of accusations that the church mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney.
The towering former Aussie rules player’s abrasive nature has long been off-putting to many, with the father of one clergy abuse victim once accusing him of having a ‘lack of empathy.’
Yet Cardinal Pell’s defenders say the cardinal simply has an image problem, that he is a good man who struggles to convey what is in his heart.
Cardinal Pell himself acknowledged as much in 2013, saying of his decision to support Ridsdale that day 20 years earlier: ‘I intended no disrespect to the victims. I understand now that they perceived it — and probably rightly — as such, but I did not at the time.’
Cardinal Pell’s supporters are also quick to note that he was one of the first bishops in the world to create a compensation program for church sex abuse victims, when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.
Cardinal Pell has said he set the program up out of compassion, though victims later criticised it as a way to keep them from suing the church.
‘His style can be robust and direct; he does not wear his heart on his sleeve,’ seven Australian archbishops and bishops wrote in a statement supporting Cardinal Pell in 2015.
‘But underneath, he has a big heart for people.’
Cardinal Pell has said he set the program up out of compassion, though victims later criticised it as a way to keep them from suing the church
Cardinal Pell was born in 1941 in Ballarat, a deeply Catholic city in the southern Australian state of Victoria that would eventually become the epicentre of the nation’s clergy abuse crisis
Cardinal Pell was born in 1941 in Ballarat, a deeply Catholic city in the southern Australian state of Victoria that would eventually become the epicentre of the nation’s clergy abuse crisis.
He was ordained a priest for the Ballarat diocese in 1966, and became an auxiliary bishop of the Melbourne Archdiocese in 1987. In 1996, he was appointed archbishop of Melbourne and was made Sydney archbishop five years later.
Impressive as his career trajectory was, he never managed to shake the Ridsdale controversy.
In many ways, the photograph encapsulated the Catholic Church’s attitude toward sex abuse the world over: Church leaders regularly sided with the priests who stood accused of raping and molesting children, placing the reputation of the church above the safety of the young and the real needs of abuse victims.
And despite what supporters dubbed his pioneering efforts to compensate victims, he was dogged for years by allegations that he should have done more to stop clergy from abusing children in the first place, particularly in Ballarat.
The city was devastated by disclosures of a huge number of church abuse victims, scores of whom killed themselves in an unprecedented cluster of abuse-related suicides.
In 2012, Australia’s government announced a royal commission into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to child sex abuse.
Cardinal Pell testified repeatedly before the commission, and was peppered with questions about current Vatican efforts to address the scandal as well as how he dealt with abuse allegations against other clergy members during his time in Australia.
Last year, Cardinal Pell sparked a fresh wave of anger in Australia after saying he was too ill to travel back to his home country to testify
The cardinal largely deflected any blame, though eventually conceded that he had erred by often believing the priests over victims.
Last year, Cardinal Pell sparked a fresh wave of anger in Australia after saying he was too ill to travel back to his home country to testify — for a third time — before the commission, opting instead to testify via video link from Rome.
A crowd-funding campaign was quickly set up to send abuse victims from Ballarat to Rome so they could watch the testimony in person. Comedian and musician Tim Minchin released a blistering song entitled Come Home (Cardinal Pell), in which he called the cardinal an ethically hypocritical, arrogant coward.
In 2014, Pope Francis named Cardinal Pell prefect of the new economy secretariat, tasked with getting the Vatican’s vast and complicated finances under control. Critics in Australia saw Cardinal Pell’s move as an attempt to leave the church’s troubles behind and avoid dealing with the abuse scandal.
His reception in Rome wasn’t much rosier; Cardinal Pell has been a polarising figure at the Vatican ever since his appointment. Soon after he was named, he drew swift scorn from the mostly Italian-headed Vatican bureaucracy for boasting that he had ‘found’ some 1.4 billion euros ‘tucked away’ in Vatican accounts that didn’t appear on balance sheets. In fact, the money was well known to the secretariat of state.
And over the years, he clashed with many other cardinals who resented his attitude suggesting that he was the main force for transparency and reform while others were resistant to change.
Australian police charged Pell with ‘historic sexual assault offences’ making Cardinal Pell the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church’s long-running abuse scandal
Cardinal Pell’s initial mandate was huge, tasked with broad rein to control all economic, administrative, personnel and procurement functions of the Holy See.
But the mandate was subsequently restricted to performing more of an oversight role. In a statement Thursday, the Vatican said Francis greatly appreciated Cardinal Pell’s ‘honesty’ in working in the Curia and was grateful for his collaboration.
Francis was particularly grateful ‘for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation’ in the pope’s group of nine cardinal advisers, the statement said.
But it was well known that Cardinal Pell and Francis had their differences in both style and substance.
It was Cardinal Pell, for example, who handed Francis a letter signed by 12 fellow cardinals complaining about the procedures surrounding Francis’ landmark synod on the family in 2015. The letter warned that the Catholic Church was at risk of collapse if bishops went too far in accommodating the flock over the contentious issue of letting civilly remarried Catholics receive communion.
In the end, Francis went ahead with the accommodation, albeit obliquely. In a statement Thursday, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher stood by Pell and said the archdiocese would support him with accommodation upon his return.
‘The George Pell I know is a man of integrity in his dealings with others, a man of faith and high ideals, a thoroughly decent man,’ Fisher said.
2nd in Command of the Vatican, Deputy Pope George Pell, on Trial in Australia for Trafficking 100 Boys Used to Entrap and Blackmail Priests for the Black Pope
Mainstream Media Silent About Massive Corruption
InfoWars 29, 2017
Alex Jones demonstrates how the Deputy Pope, George Pell, was caught kidnapping and trafficking over 100 little boys into the Vatican network while the mainstream media remained silent.
VATICAN’S 3RD MOST POWERFUL FIGURE, CARDINAL PELL, CHARGED WITH SEX ASSAULTS ON MINORS
Global pedophilia rings continue to be exposed
Australia’s highest-ranking Roman Catholic clergyman, Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell, has been charged by Australian police over sex allegations from “multiple complainants.”
The Vatican has released a statement of support for Pell, citing his “honesty.”“Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences,” Victoria state police deputy commissioner Shane Patton told the media in Melbourne on Thursday.The extent of the charges the senior Vatican cardinal is facing has not been revealed by police.
However, according to Patton, “there are multiple complainants relating to those charges.”There might be up to 10 alleged victims, Australian news website News.com.au reports, adding that they were minors at the time of the alleged assaults and are now aged from their late 20s to their early 50s.The allegations are believed to stretch from the time that Pell was a priest in the Australian town of Ballarat to when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. It is alleged that the cardinal groomed boys at a swimming pool in Ballarat in the 1970s and committed sexual assaults at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, according to The Australian.
The cardinal, who did not admit to any of the alleged offences and has denied reports that have been circulating in the media for months, was charged by summons to appear before a Melbourne court on July 18.
Since 2014, Pell has lived in the Vatican, with which Australia has no extradition treaty, meaning the cardinal could potentially avoid prosecution if he chose not to return to his home country.
However, the Australian Catholic Church said in a statement Thursday that the cardinal “will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name.”
“He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously,” the statement added.
The Vatican has released its own statement, stressing that Pope Francis has respect for Pell’s “honesty” and “energetic dedication” to his work on Church financial reform.
It went on to state that Pell has “openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors; has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities…has supported the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse.”
Pell, 76, was promoted to cardinal in 2003 and three years ago he was appointed to serve as the Vatican treasurer, considered to be the third most powerful post behind the Pope.
While it is the first time that formal charges are brought against Pell, he was subject of an investigation in the early 2000s after claims emerged that he had molested an altar boy back in the 1960s, The Age reported.
At the time, Pell denied the allegations against him, dubbing them “lies.”
In February, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released a report stating that more than 4,000 children, mostly boys, have been allegedly sexually abused by Catholic priests in Australia over a period of decades.According to the investigation, since the 1950s some 7 percent of priests in the country were alleged perpetrators. The commission also said that since the 1980s, the Catholic Church has paid over $200 million to victims of alleged sex abuse committed by priests in Australia over decades.
The Australian Church is in Desperate Trouble
Source The Catholic Herald
Natasha Marsh posted
In 2017, the Church has endured an abuse crisis, lost a same-sex marriage vote and failed to stop euthanasia. Can it recover?
This Sunday marks the beginning of a new year (Year B, to be precise) in the Church’s liturgical calendar. That may be a relief for Australian Catholics, who will be glad to say goodbye to 2017 a few weeks early.
The year opened on a hard note, with the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, in its fifth and final year, holding a three-week “wrap-up” session on the Catholic Church in February. The results were shocking and sickening, and were splashed across the news daily. While the vast majority of abuse was historical (between 1950 and 2010) these reports cast a chill on all good-hearted people – Catholic or not.
Many faithful Catholics were further disappointed and disillusioned as entire archdioceses lay paralysed by silence, peeping out from behind media releases and communications offices. Where were the prayer vigils? The novenas? The tears? Church billboards declaring “Not in my name”?
While disappointment was one emotion, another was rage. And the mainstream media capitalised on the zeitgeist, openly speculating whether it was Catholicism itself – from celibacy to Confession – that was intrinsically paedophilic.
Over the months, the spotlight was slowly directed towards one man – Australia’s highest ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell. The cardinal became the subject of countless articles, parodies and memes. A comedic song, calling him “scum”, gathered 2.5 million views, while a polemical book Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell was published in May. In November, an obscene public mural crept across a pub wall in Sydney depicting the cardinal with former prime minister Tony Abbott.
When Cardinal Pell returned to Melbourne from the Vatican to answer charges of historic child sex abuse – charges which he will denounce when the trial begins in March next year – hundreds of journalists camped for hours to report as the 76-year-old presented himself to court.
As June slipped into August, the spotlight shifted from the Catholic Church, and Cardinal Pell in particular, to Christian morality in general.
Australia has never been, strictly speaking, a Judaeo-Christian country. It is a country that was built on Enlightenment ideals, but at a time when Enlightenment principles were still benefiting from, and dependent on, a robust Christianity. But the past few months have seen the axe laid to the last tendrils of Christianity in Australia, and a new morality is replacing the old.
While the new secular morality is rightfully outraged at the historic abuse of children, it seems less clear on how it feels about the current sexualisation of children.
In September, The Gender Fairy, a book which teaches that being a “boy” or a “girl” can be a matter of personal decision, was released. It ends with the claim: “Only you know whether you are a girl or a boy.”
The Gender Fairy is promoted by the radical LGBTQI sex education programme, Safe Schools. Although Safe Schools’ work is marketed as an anti-bullying programme, the federal government announced it would discontinue funding out of concern over some of the material (including online links to other resources full of graphic content).
Dismissing these concerns as “homophobic”, the Victoria government pledged $1 million of its own funds, declaring that all state secondary schools would be members of the Safe Schools Coalition by 2018.
November has also been a month for headlines, with the historic announcement that a solid majority of Australians (62 per cent) voted “yes” to proposals to change the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, quickly followed by the Victoria government’s upper house voting to allow euthanasia. In this way, same-sex marriage and euthanasia for Victorians may be legal by Christmas.
Out of this changing culture it is clear that there are three groups emerging within the Catholic community. The first group does not realise that there has been any change; the second group seeks to embrace the changing culture; and the third group rejects the new culture.
Statistics suggest that the first group has the largest membership. Of the nearly 5.5 million Australians who put themselves down as Catholic in the 2016 census conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, fewer than 10 per cent said they attend Mass. And only 10 per cent of that 10 per cent accept all the teachings of the Church.
The second, smaller, group is passionate about seeing the Church move “with the times”. Driven by a desire for reform, its members dominate the corridors of the diocesan and archdiocesan offices, Catholic education offices, academic boards and hospital ethics committees.
The third group seeks to hold to the truths of the faith and embrace the Cross as a “stumbling block”, and believes that the spirit of the world, as Scripture says, is antithetical to the Holy Spirit.
For Catholics of this third kind, the most hostile places are the “edifices built in prosperity”, that is, the hospitals, schools and universities with Catholic names.
The fraught relationship between these groups dominates the experience of Catholics “on the ground”. As Catholic leadership roles are often mastered by people who no longer believe in the power of the Catholic message, this explains many decisions made by the Church this year.
It explains how millions can be spent in high schools implementing a dubious “Catholic Identity Project” from Louvain University in Belgium (a country haemorrhaging its Catholic identity at giddying speed), while the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Melbourne, one of the bastions of international-level orthodox Catholic academia, is closed for “financial reasons”.
It explains how Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta could write a letter before the same-sex marriage plebiscite telling Catholics “It should not be a matter of a simple answer Yes or No”, and weeks later be asked to write the 2017-2018 Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement (“Everyone’s Business: Developing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy”) without a word of reproach.
It also explains how a chaplain at one Catholic college could be sacked days after celebrating his first Extraordinary Form Mass on campus, and how a Victorian Catholic palliative care nurse could receive a letter from the office of Archbishop Denis Hart in response to her request that Victoria be consecrated to Our Lady, following the example of Archbishop Julian Porteous of Tasmania. She was told: “Prayer is valuable. Keep it up. Consecrations should not be used as some kind of weapon.”
This new culture is not “out there” but fighting for the hearts of the churches in Australia.
In a short talk entitled “What will the future Church look like?” given in 1969, Joseph Ratzinger said: “From the crisis of today a new Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”
Ratzinger has often been called prophetic for this talk, delivered nearly 50 years ago. But perhaps he was not being prophetic. Perhaps he was calling attention to what is known, what needs to be remembered and what is repeatedly revealed – from Exodus to Maccabees to Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option. For gold to be purified, it must be first tested in the furnace. Perhaps this is what is happening to Catholicism in Australia.
But the Church doesn’t end with the furnace; it ends in hope.
Last Sunday, which was the last of the liturgical year, we celebrated the feast of Christ the King. The Church in Australia will face the new year as the Church will do across the world – not with a sigh of relief, but with confidence that the battle is already won.
Natasha Marsh is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne
This article first appeared in the December 1 2017 issue of the Catholic Herald. To read the magazine in full, from anywhere in the world, go here