Statements by Tony Abbott and John Howard about former Archbishop of Melbourne and more recently the treasurer of the Vatican, exemplify the attitudes they have toward the public who once voted for them. Cardinal George Pell was convicted of 5 counts of child sex abuse including penetration of a child under the age of 16. At the time of his conviction,in December 2018, the court system placed a gag order on the press so that Pell’s lawyers could secretly mount an appeal against the conviction and make preparations for his sentencing which will take place on March 29. Howard and Abbott both vehemently assert that Pell is a wonderful person and an exemplary character who is above reproach. I guess they also think he should be above the law. His lawyer stated yesterday that Pell’s crimes were really just minor issues and were at the lower end of the debauchery scale ,certainly not worth all the media attention and public revulsion.
In most instances , in the real world, the alleged perpetrator of such crimes will not be informed that he is being investigated until the moment he is arrested, handcuffed, charged and jailed. They will then be dragged, handcuffed, into a court and indicted within days of the crime being reported. They will then be bound over, either in custody or on bail ,until a court date and if found guilty, held in custody till sentencing.
Pell was warned with plenty of notice that he was to be investigated and continued to be allowed to preside over church matters in Italy until public outcry demanded he be extradited to Australia for trial. He was flown first class to Melbourne and continued to act in his position as a Cardinal until his indictment. During that period, he was allowed to take leave from his church duties while he prepared a defence , whereas anyone else would be at least stood down, suspended or sacked. Today, for the first time , Pell has finally spent a night in jail, almost three months since he was convicted ,but he still hasn’t been sentenced?
It’s little wonder that a large section of our community has no respect for either the law or common decency when the former leaders of our country and the hierarchy of the most powerful church in the world believe it’s alright for the rich and powerful to abuse children. Even the Pope himself won’t take action against Pell because he believes doing so may influence the outcome of Pell’s sentencing and expected appeal. What about the victims of his crimes? Where is the shepherd of the flock in their hour of need?
Christian churches appear to be in serious trouble and are losing the support of their congregations because of the perception they are not transparent . The saga of Cardinal Pell will do nothing to repair that view.