Thursday, July 2, 2015

Catching Cardinals in the clergy sex abuse scandal: next stop Pope Francis

Cardinal George Pell

The Royal Commission in Australia has been investigating how institutions like schools, churches and sporting groups handle child sexual abuse cases.  In the spotlight currently is Cardinal George Pell. Pell has been under fire since allegations that he turned a blind eye to abuse resurfaced last week at the royal commission into child sexual abuse in Ballarat, Victoria. Pell has been accused of bribing abused victims to keep them quiet and ignoring victim’s complaints.  

Peter Saunders, a victim of sexual abuse himself, has broken his silence about Cardinal Pell. Saunders established the National Association for People Abused in Childhood in Britain 16 years ago. Last December, he was hand-picked by Pope Francis to lead the Vatican’s commission for the protection of children.

Appearing on Nine Network's 60 Minutes program*, Saunders described Pell as a dangerous individual. Saunders said about Pell in the interview: “He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic, I would go as far as to say – this lack of care.”  “Pell had shown disregard for victims of child sexual abuse through his repeated denial of any knowledge of abuse within the church”, Saunders said.

Judy Courtin, from Australia’s Monash University’s law faculty, has extensively researched abuse within the Catholic church. In response to the interview.  Pell said he was considering his legal options, a move which Courtin described as “highly insulting to victims”.

Courtin said that for justice to be done, victims needed to be able to tell their story and also to know that senior figures in the institution where the abuse occurred were held to account.  “He seems more concerned with protecting his reputation than supporting victims,” she said about Pell.

The president of the Care Leavers Australia Network, Maureen Cuskelly, whose organization supports survivors of sexual abuse within institutions, also said it was concerning that Pell was considering his legal options.

Our efforts are succeeding.  We are exposing the abusers of children and all those who ignore or cover up the crimes of these abusers. Pope Francis is feeling the heat as the fires of justice get closer and closer.