The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Cardinal Pell at 80

His enemies will never admit it, but Cardinal George Pell saved the Church in Australia from dissolving into a Liquid Catholicism indistinguishable from Liberal Protestantism.

Australian Cardinal George Pell relaxes on the grounds of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Sydney April 9, 2020. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Sydney)

Fifteen months ago, it looked as if Cardinal George Pell might spend his 80th birthday in prison. A malicious trolling expedition by the police department of the State of Victoria in his native Australia had led to the cardinal’s indictment on manifestly absurd charges of “historic sexual abuse.” His first trial ended with a hung jury heavily in favor of acquittal; but because of a court-imposed media blackout on the trial, the public did not know that the defense had shredded the prosecution’s case by demonstrating that the alleged crimes couldn’t have happened how, when, and where the complainant said they’d happened. The cardinal’s retrial ended in an incomprehensible conviction, which was followed by an even more incomprehensible (and feckless) rejection of the cardinal’s appeal.

Happily – for the sake of an innocent man’s liberty and the reputation of Australia’s justice system – the country’s High Court unanimously quashed the guilty verdict on April 7, 2020, and entered a judgment of “innocent” in the case of Pell v. The Queen.

Cardinal Pell did not waste his 404 days in prison, most of them in solitary confinement. He wrote a daily journal that has become something of a modern spiritual classic; Ignatius Press has been publishing it in three volumes, the last of which will appear in October. Through his Prison Journal, thousands of people around the world have discovered the real George Pell: a man of rock-solid faith, keen intelligence, deep compassion for the confusions that beset the human race, and a determination to live out the priestly ministry to which he committed himself when he was ordained by Cardinal Gregory Peter Agagianian (runner-up to John XXIII in the conclave of 1958) on December 16, 1966.

I’m happy that so many others have now discovered the truth about this good and great man, not least because he and I have been friends since he spent his post-ordination summer in my Baltimore parish, in between his Roman theological studies and his doctoral work at Oxford. Over that half-century, we’ve discussed just about everything. And while the cardinal has not converted me to the virtues of cricket, we are of one mind on so many other things that we’ve worked in close harness on several occasions.

Thus it strikes me as providential that Cardinal Pell’s 80th birthday falls while the universal Church is being roiled by the German “Synodal Way: a process that, absent a decisive Roman intervention (and perhaps even in the face of that), seems likely to confirm that institutional Catholicism in Germany is in a state of apostasy. Providential, because without George Pell’s leadership as archbishop of Melbourne and then cardinal archbishop of Sydney, Australia might well have become the kind of ecclesiastical disaster area Germany is today – although the Aussies would have gotten there 25 years earlier.

His enemies will never admit it, but Cardinal George Pell saved the Church in Australia from dissolving into a Liquid Catholicism indistinguishable from Liberal Protestantism. He did so by his defense of Vatican II as renewal within tradition; by his reform of the priesthood and his care for sexual abuse victims in the dioceses he led; by his unwavering support of Catholic orthodoxy in the teeth of fierce cultural headwinds that cowed many of his brother bishops; by championing serious Catholic intellectual life in a variety of initiatives; and by hosting Sydney’s World Youth Day-2008, which evangelically energized young Australian Catholics as Denver’s World Youth Day-1993 had done for young American Catholics. Without George Pell’s leadership and his willingness to stand for the truth against vicious criticism, Catholicism Down Under in 2021 might well look like the moribund Church in much of Germany today, but absent the Germans’ vast, tax-supported wealth.

Cardinal Pell’s work to clean the Augean stables of Vatican finance remains to be completed and questions about possible links between that work and his prosecution remain to be answered. Nonetheless, the cardinal’s grace under extraordinary pressure and the dignity with which he conducted himself before, during, and after his imprisonment have made him one of the most influential elders in the Catholic Church today. That he lost his vote in a future conclave on June 8 does not mean that he will be sidelined in the really consequential discussions of the Church’s future. He will be very much at the center of those conversations, now wielding the moral authority he has rightly won as a contemporary confessor.

The man I have known and cherished since the summer of 1967 was not built for quiescence. His voice will be heard. And it will be heard where it counts.

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About George Weigel 489 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021), and To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II (Basic Books, 2022).


  1. The phrase ‘Australian Justice System’ is the oxymoron of the decade.

    May God grant the Cardinal’s prosecutors the graces of shame and then contrition.

  2. From the beginning of Cardinal Pell’s incarceration, it was News that Pell was set up by his enemies in the Vatican. After his realease, it was found that a prelate funneled money to Australia. The question remains, why? I don’t understand why Cardinals, after reaching the age of 80, cannot vote in a conclave. I have read that Pope Paul Vl made this rule in order to prevent older cardinals who were still faithful to the Church from voting for a Pope who would not go along with Modernism.

  3. I followed Cardinal’s trial and was happy for the verdict that exonerated him. He is so needed in the Church now. I have heard him speak and his orthodoxy and his humility under such stress is exemplary. I loved his reply when asked how his Faith helped him get through the ordeal. He said close to this: “I knew God was there, I just didn’t know what He was up to.” God bless him.

  4. Yet again Mr Weigel is creating a narrative that in many respects conforms more to his wishful thinking rather than on the deeper truths of the dot points of Cardinal Pell’s life he that are simplistically glossed over.

    “his care for sexual abuse victims in the dioceses he led”

    This statement stands out more than any other as a betrayal of Mr Weiglr’s ignorance of lived reality in the Parishes of Victoria. It alone is deeply insensitive to those directly affected by the scourge of clergy inflicted sexual abuse!

    As for Mr Weigels concluding statement;
    “That he [ Cardinal Pell ] lost his vote in a future conclave on June 8 does not mean that he will be sidelined in the really consequential discussions of the Church’s future. He will be very much at the center of those conversations, now wielding the moral authority he has rightly won as a contemporary confessor.”

    It is my interpretation that it is in fact Mr Weigel, and all he represents, that very much wishes to be at the centre of those conversations.

    • So somehow you’re *the* authority on the “lived reality in the Parishes of Victoria?” All of them? Strange, I’ve read things written by abuse victims who expressed gratitude to Cardinal Pell. Am I supposed to ignore them and bow to your opinion?

      • Leslie, firstty my comment was never meant as an absolute that applies to every person nor every parish. Secondly I am firm in my conviction that I have a far greater chance of knowing live as it is in Victoria than Mr Weigel and yourself. I never laid claim to being *the* authority, however Mr Weigel is no authority on theis particular subject of Cardinal Pell’s handling of cases of clergy abuse in the State of Victoris and that of New South Wales.

    • It looks like Chris Hallam is back after a long absence, like the proverbial dog that returns to its own vomit. I see that nothing has changed. You are still grinding your axes about Cardinal Pell, hoping against hope that people will somehow come around to your view of the situation. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. As I’ve said before, long time readers on this site remember your months-long attacks on Cardinal Pell, your false and baseless accusations, your malicious slander, your feigned “concern” for abuse victims, your constant references to the totally discredited “Royal Commission report.” Your posts reveal far more about the darkness in your own heart and your own posturing than they do about the exonerated Cardinal. It is actually you who is “creating a narrative that conforms to his wishful thinking,” but you just don’t see it. To our credit, its clear to many of us here.

      • How biblical of you Athanasius, to choose that particular proverb in reference to my contribution to this community. To interpret my contribution, countering a narrative as as malicious slander is not in any way a legitimate pursuit in critical thinking. It is one thing to debate over implied assumptions and another to debate over factual information. Where I have provided fact I have been slandered by the likes of you with your straw man rebuttal. When I held out an olive branch, my hand was cut off! How pathetic. A comments section of an article is for discussion, is it not? I have been mostly calculated and deliberate in how I have presented my arguments on these comment sections of various articles. I have avoided personal attack. I have provided verifiable links to specific circumstances and occurrences i have mentioned as part of my counter narrative to the writings of Mr Weigel regarding Cardinal Pell. I have been careful to state many times i no not the innocence no guilt regarding the abuse allegations Cardinal Pell was acquitted of. I accept the verdict of the High Court on the matter. This I have stated more than once. What I have deliberately done is question Mr Weigel’s polemic style and selective use of presenting material pertaining to Cardinal Pells public life in my nation of Australia and in particular the state of Victoria. Not only has Mr Weigel been selective, he has pursued untruths in presenting his narrative. Your American Centric perspective of this issue is profoundly ignorant, however I do not believe Mr Weigel is ignorant. I see him as a deliberate manipulator of American public opinion and I have made a choice to set the record more to where the factual information and knowledge I have points to. I say this not to change your mind nor that of Leslie and others who’s mind is closed on the subject. I am writing for the general readership who can if they wish go back over all i have said, check it out and make up their own mind.
        I stand by what I have written.

        • “Your American Centric perspective of this issue is profoundly ignorant,”

          It appears to have escaped your notice that we have read quite a few Australian sources. My perspective is not “American Centric.”

          “however I do not believe Mr Weigel is ignorant. I see him as a deliberate manipulator of American public opinion”

          And yet I’ve seen the same things he has pointed out in writings by Australians.

          “and I have made a choice to set the record more to where the factual information and knowledge I have points to.”

          Your “factual information and knowledge” appears actually to mean your unsupported opinion.

          “I say this not to change your mind nor that of Leslie and others who’s mind is closed on the subject.”

          Your sense of irony is severely deficient if you can, straight-faced, accuse others of having closed minds.

          • It has not escaped my notice that you have read quite a few Australian Sources. I know of those. Of course you will see the same things pointed out by Mr Weigel also voiced in the Australian commentary. You have not once given what I would call legitimate consideration to the facts I presented, the letter from Helen Last being just one addressing the subject of Fr Peter Searson, abuser priest of the Parish of Doveton. A parish that suffered at the abusive hands of no less that 5 Priests. Your above an repeated attempt at de legitimising my contribution to this subject is deeply troubling.

            I wrote a song and played that song to Cardinal Pell and all present when Cardinal Pell held a two day consultation with advocates etc leading up to his launch of the Melbourne Response.

            This is just the intro verses…….

            Silent night holy night
            all is calm all is bright
            around young virgin mother and child
            holy infant so meek and mild

            holy infant so meek and mild
            It’s getting hard to smile
            so much has changed between you and I
            since I was a child
            Ive had to see life through the eyes of a man
            It’s getting hard to understand
            How the garden of eden is such a far off land
            and the fall is where we stand

            ….there are meny more verses to this lament!

            There are many more examples,
            My Uncle was on the Parish Committee at Oakliegh when Fr Kevin O’Donnell was abusing the children of the parish!

            My Mothers Sister at Edenhope in the Bush.
            Every article I posted a link to in these discussions was rejected as false or prejudised untruth, yet I know the people involved. I new a senior Teacher at the Doveton primary school. Her son is one of my best mates. She knows the truth.

            So Leslie
            continue to de legitimise me form your perspective of articles written by those who repeat a selective half truth narrative seemingly designed for the purpose of damage control.
            I encourage others who seek the truth with an open mind to search for the truth.

          • The “letter from Helen Last,” huh?

            Helen Last was a member of the Melbourne “pastoral response office.” She “claimed that in 1997, Pell blocked her from during more to investigate the claims against Searson, telling her in letter ‘under control’ and ‘there remains no need for any pro-active measures from your office.'” (This according to Wikipedia quoting the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or Company or whatever the C stands for.)

            The Melbourne Response was put into place in 1996. “In November 1996 complaints of Searson physically assaulting two boys were referred to Peter O’Callaghan QC, the Independent Commissioner under the Melbourne Response.” By March, Cardinal Pell had suspended him.

            So, by 1997, when Ms. Last says she received the letter, Searson was already being investigated, and depending on the date of the letter may already have been suspended. As Cardinal Pell told her, there was no need for her to investigate. I fail to see why you think this is somehow evidence against Cardinal Pell.

            I have worked in schools, and we had mandatory child abuse prevention training. We were told emphatically to report it so that people who were trained investigators could investigate, and were strictly forbidden from doing any free-lance amateur busybody investigating of our own for fear of tainting the evidence.

            “I wrote a song and played that song to Cardinal Pell”

            Gosh, and I thought solitary confinement in prison was a terrible thing to suffer.

            “So Leslie
            continue to de legitimise me form your perspective of articles written by those who repeat a selective half truth narrative seemingly designed for the purpose of damage control.”

            Apparently you think you get to decide which articles are true and which aren’t, and anybody who disagrees with you is close-minded. Again, you need to work on your sense of irony. I have read articles on both sides, I find the defenses of Cardinal Pell, based on facts, more convincing than the attacks on him that you promote.

        • You have not currently, and have never in the past, contributed factual information to any of these important discussions. That’s the point I am continually raising with your posts. You can pontificate until the cows come home, but understand that very few people here, knowing your history and the repeatedly malicious and false content of your posts, can take you seriously.

          • In reply to Leslie’s comment: “Pell blocked her from during more to investigate the claims against Searson, telling her in letter ‘under control’ and ‘there remains no need for any pro-active measures from your office.'”
            Ms Last’s role was not and never was to Investigate Priests who were abusers. She was not investigating claims against Searson. The pastoral needs of the affected families in Doveton were not in any way under as you put it controll. In your reply you are clearly demonstrating that you have a very limited understanding of the details of this issue. Ms Last’s role was victims advocate and support. In this role she led a team of others in providing a pastoral response to victims. The letter you refer to is from Dennis Heart effect a termination letter and in it a prior letter she received was reffered to with these words; ” With respect of your letter yesterday I would have thought that the letter of the third of April was clear enough. His Grace ( reff to George Pell ) and I remain satisfied that no proactive measures are required by your office in relation to Doveton. So in effect Pell was denying the people of Doveton the ministry provided by the Pastoral Response Office. Here is a link to a copy of this letter:

            The Melbourne response was drafted by a team of soliciters and legal experts and was never pastoral in its intent nor its application. This response was one of minimising financial pay outs, requiring those who took part to sign a legal non disclosure document and if and when necessary an adversarial approach using the law and courts against victims as shown in the Ellis case. There were conflicts of interest with the role of those assigned to “help victims”. You will not read any of this in Mr Weigels writing. Not a scenic of a mention. So often Leslie in your attempt at finding contradiction in my testimony, you end up as we say barking up the wrong tree.

            In closing I would like to draw your attention to the Recent interview printed in CWR with Michael Ward about his new book, After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. This is excellent reading and much food for thought from statements such as this;

            “Fr. Ward: It’s about whether there is such a thing as objective reality. In particular, is there such a thing as objective value – good and evil, truth and falsehood, right and wrong?

            Lewis answers very convincingly that there is such a thing, and his defence of the objectivity of value accounts for much of his book. But he also paints a picture of what will happen if we deny the objectivity of value. If we try to pretend that we just make up value out of our own private opinion – in other words, if we embrace subjectivism – we will be eradicating a fundamental part of what makes us human.

            What’s being abolished in “the abolition of man” is our moral nature, our capacity to recognise certain moral features of reality, features that we have discovered, not invented, and that can’t be otherwise than they are, however much we might wish it.
            I am keenly aware this applies to myself as it does to any other who contributes to dialogue in these comment sections. It is in good faith and kind regards that i mention these things.

          • Mr. Hallam,

            “Helen Last was the co-ordinator of the Pastoral Response Office for the Melbourne Archdiocese. She says then Archbishop Pell personally stopped her from going to Doveton parish ********to investigate******* and provide care to the victims of the notorious paedophile priest Father Peter Searson.

            HELEN LAST: They did not want our pastoral work on that professional level to start in that area because it was so full of sexual crimes and terrible trauma and terrorisation of altar boys. ******They did not want us to be working there to be uncovering it****** and to helping people specifically who had suffered that.”


            You say “Ms Last’s role was not and never was to Investigate Priests who were abusers. She was not investigating claims against Searson.”

            Ms. Last appears to disagree with you.

            I’d say my accuracy level is a lot higher than yours, and that you’re the one snapping and yapping up the wrong tree like a frenzied Pekinese.

  5. Those of us who are in the midst of the Cardinal’s second “Prison Journal” know that there are many people who not only hate that good man, but would like to lay the blame of the wickedness of a whole country on his shoulders. However, he received hundreds of letters from souls who were inspired and comforted by his example. One needn’t love Mr Weigel to know he tells the truth. Mr Hallam needs to avoid personal animosity and practice the mercy we all need.

    • Kathleen, may I state categorically state that I do not hate Cardinal Pell. Mr Weigel was the target of my comment. Cardinal Pell’s handling of the aftermath of the many instances of the abuse of children by Catholic priests was the subject of my attention. Mr Weigels stated that among other things Cardinal Pell’s “care for sexual abuse victims in the dioceses he led;” was a part of a suit of measures in leadership that saved the Australian Catholic Church. Those who disagree are enemies. I am saying Cardinal Pell did not handle this issue with care or compassion for these victims. I have a lot of factual examples where i demonstrate this, that victims were re traumatised by Cardinal Pell’s approach to handling this issue. From how Mr Weigel presents his narrative it is therefore a reality that the many children, most now adults who were victims of this abuse are now seen as enemies of thew church by Mr Weigel and those convinced by his narrative. So too are the many who continue to advocate on their behalf and care for their continued faith journey. Not only are they sinned against to the core of intimacy and trust by the very men who should be Christ like in how they live and think, but they are now discarded as an enemy of the true Catholic Church. Oh! And many are also Catholic Lite! Mr Weigel does not care for nuance in his presentation of Cardinal Pell’s plight as a public figure in Australia, he does so in a manner that discards the lives of those who have suffered and are suffering from being sexually abused by the Catholic Priests of Australia. What is more than obvious is Mr Weigle does not care for their lived reality on little bit! And the unthinking followers who care more about their Traditional verses Liberal polemic are so blind, deaf and dumb to this reality that it appears as though they are beyond help.

  6. And once again Mr. Hallam demonstrates that he thinks the defense of an innocent man against a lying or delusional accuser somehow “discards the lives” of people who suffered abuse.

    • Wrong again Leslie. You fail to comprehend what I have said.
      It is the nature of that defence i am addressing and the direct consequence of it on the people who suffered abuse.

      • Leslie, there is a fundamental dishonesty in the way you, in the above statement, have responded in to my posting. This seems to be standard fare and all pervasive in public discourse these days. Many people are fooled by the games of word play. Not me. Your attempt at reframing the debate in a narrow point of reference in order to score a point is transparent in its complete failure to pursue honest discourse. Wether this is intentional or a failure of the intellect on your part I’m unsure.
        Me Weigel has every right to defend his friend Cardinal Pell. I have consistently challenged the picture Mr Weigel has painted of Australian society, public debate, Cardinal Pell as a Leader in the Australian Catholic church and a public figure and the nature of the cex abuse scandle as it has unfolded in Australia and Cardinal Pell’s place and response as a leader.
        Were is our evangelism as the Body of Christ if we pursue a public, co ordinated and forceful false narrative of this tragic episode in the Churches life in Australia? The scorn and anger would surely be deserved would it not?
        I have spent my adult life witnesing against the new age eclectic spirituality of my generation in every aspect of how i live. The work I chose as a career no matter the income hit. To se what has transpired here in these discussions is the cause of great disappointment and at times anger. I have asked the question Who is Jesus if we are to follow him? His way of thinking, his priorities? His responses to the challenges to his ministery and the issues of his day in the situation he lived. This is my model for life. This is what I expect from leaders of The Body Of Christ. A worthwhile question to ask,…. what are the barriers we as a Church are placing between Jesus and the people we are called to show and model in spirit and truth who our God, Father, Son Holy Spirit, really is?

        • Mr. Hallam, there is a fundamental dishonesty in the way you keep attacking Cardinal Pell and badmouthing anybody who disagrees with you.

          You don’t like the Melbourne Response. You know of some people who also didn’t. And yet I’ve read comments from people who were abused and who are thankful to Cardinal Pell for setting up a method to deal with the abuse. You get all snippy about how Mr. Weigel denies the “lived reality” of people who didn’t like the response, while blithely denying the “lived reality” of those who did. Bluntly, you appear to be a sanctimonious hypocrite.

          Because I refuse to bow down before your particular interpretation of things I am failing to “pursue honest discourse” or having a “failure of intellect?” No. I am sticking to the basic point that whining about how defending an innocent man (and one of the accusations against him is that he lacked care and compassion) is just tooooo meaaaannnnnn to anybody who ever suffered abuse is not acceptable.

          “Were is our evangelism as the Body of Christ if we pursue a public, co ordinated and forceful false narrative of this tragic episode in the Churches life in Australia?

          You don’t get to decide unilaterally that a narrative is false.

          “Who is Jesus if we are to follow him? ”

          He is Truth. And you are not the arbiter of truth.

          • The church seems not to trust in the work of the Holy Spirit do pave the way in the hearts and minds of those who seek the truth and yet do not know Jesus.

    • Hallam is a typical liberal in his arguments. If destroying a man’s reputation and taking away his freedoms furthers the “cause,” even if that man is innocent, then that’s just the price that needs to be paid. Guilt or innocence is ultimtaely irrelevant – all that matters is advancing the agenda. It’s quite malicious and dark, and such thinking and has no place in the heart or mind of someone who is authentically committed to Christ.

      • Athanasius, ponder on this dynamic: That in their response to revelations of the abuse of children and adolescents by Catholic Priests, those in leadership destroy the reputation and character of Jesus in the eyes of an interested and engaged public many of whom are capable of objective thought and reasoning. This very situation is why I repeat the question “Who is Jesus”?

        • Again, just more empty posturing on your part. We’ve heard all this before, and we’re not buying what you are selling.

          • Athanasius, I’m interested in who you are referring to when you say we have heard it all before and we are not buying it. On who’s behalf are you speaking?


    CARDINAL George Pell was aware of Catholic Church child abuse as early as the 1970s – and “considered measures of avoiding situations that might provoke gossip” – according to the child abuse royal commission.In the 1970s Cardinal Pell, then a junior priest in the Diocese of Ballarat, was aware of children being sexually abused within that diocese, and it was “implausible” that other senior church figures did not tell the then Fr Pell abuse was occurring.

    The report shows the commission rejected Cardinal Pell’s evidence that he had been deceived and lied to by Church officials about Gerald Ridsdale – considered to be one of the country’s worst offending paedophile priests – and Melbourne parish priest Peter Searson.

    “We are satisfied that in 1973, Father Pell turned his mind to the prudence of Ridsdale taking boys on overnight camps,” the report said.

    “The most likely reason for this, as Cardinal Pell acknowledged, was the possibility that if priests were one-on-one with a child, then they could sexually abuse a child, or at least provoke gossip about such a prospect.”

    Ridsdale was convicted of abusing more than 60 boys over decades.

    The report said the royal commission was satisfied that Cardinal Pell, as an adviser to then Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns, knew of Ridsdale’s abuse, and that was why Ridsdale was moved from the Victorian town of Mortlake, in the 1980s.

    “We are satisfied Bishop Mulkearns gave reasons for it being necessary to move Ridsdale. We are satisfied that he referred to homosexuality at the meeting, in the context of giving reasons for Ridsdale’s move,” it said.

    “However, we are not satisfied that Bishop Mulkearns left the explanation there, as Cardinal Pell said there would have been a discussion.

    “Cardinal Pell gave evidence that the bishop did not give the true reason for moving Ridsdale – namely his sexual activity with children – and that the bishop lied in not giving the true reason to the consulters.

    “We do not accept that Bishop Mulkearns lied to his consultors.”

      • Leslie, my post above is a cut and paste from the Catholic Leader.
        The Catholic Leader, originally The Catholic Age, then The Age, is a newspaper published in Brisbane, Queensland from 1892, and is the official organ of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. The Archdiocese of Brisbane says the newspaper is “Australia’s longest serving Catholic newspaper”. Wikipedia.

        I take a position that it suits your position in this debate to negate in a unilateral fashion the findings of the Royal commission however you fail to present anything of substance that would convince a reasonable enquirer that The Royal Commission is utterly discredited.

          • Leslie, the links you provide are more the same from ideological stable mates of Mr Weigel. Mr Gerard Henderson’s article from your Sydney Institute link in particular is a sub standard journalistic effort. This issue is bigger that Cardinal Pell and Mr Weigel’s efforts to dismiss the entire work of both the Victorian and the National Royal Commissions in his effort to preserve the reputation of Cardinal Pell is extremely unfortunate with potentially disastrous consequences for the Catholic Church. The scope, depth and breadth of work performed by these investigations is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in a look from outside the church at the Sexual Abuse crisis.
            These works should be looked at in their entirety, not just cherry picked for aspects that offend the faithful or challenge aspects the role of confession. (I’m not advocating for an all encompassing embrace of the commissions findings, sort the wheat from the chaff as they say. )
            If we look at just one aspect covered by the royal commission, that which is referred to as the Pontifical Secret. When I have mentioned this previously there has been stony silence from participants in these discussions:

            “There is a prohibition in canon law: the pontifical secret, the Church’s highest form of
            confidentiality. Confidentiality, whether in civil or canon law, requires not telling anyone, unless the
            law itself provides for exceptions.
            Art 11 of Crimen Sollicitationis imposed a permanent silence over all information obtained through
            Church investigations of child sexual abuse. There was no exception either in it or in any other
            Church law, including the 1917 Code for reporting to the civil authorities. Art. I (4) and III (1) of
            Secreta Continere imposes a permanent silence not only on that information, but on the
            “extrajudicial denunciation”, that is the complaint by a victim or the parents of a victim to a priest’s
            superior. The confidentiality was imposed not only on the staff of canonical tribunals but on:
            “Cardinals, bishops, prelate superiors, major and minor officials, consultors, experts and ministers of lower rank
            who are concerned with the treatment of questions which are subject to papal or pontifical secrecy.”
            Art. II (4) provides that even those who come across that information by accident are bound by the
            pontifical secret. ”
            Acording to Kienen Tapsall, “canon law until 1917 required sex offender priests to be dismissed and reported to police, a series of canon law changes and papal decrees since imposed a ‘‘permanent silence’’ that continues to prohibit reporting of some matters in some Australian states even today,” Tapsell said.
            The Popes who ruled while this Canon Law was in place:
            Popes Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI, Benedict XVI and the recently named papal saints John Paul II and John XXIII.
            The implications of this cannon law as it pertains to Mr Weigel’s commentary are profound. Why no exploration of this truth with respect to Ballarat, Melbourne, Australia? Rather than expound, I will encourage the reader to contemplate.

            Pope Francis changed aspects and situations covered by the Papal Secret to now exclude the following:
            The canon law instruction “On the confidentiality of legal proceedings”, of 17 December 2019, excluded from the pontifical secret the accusations, trials and decisions in canonical investigations and trial involving:

            violence or abuse of authority in forcing sexual acts,
            sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons,
            paedophilia involving children under 18 years of age or with incapacitated subjects,
            concealment of those conducts from ecclesiastical or civil inquiries

          • Mr. Hallam,

            By “sub standard journalistic effort,” you appear to mean “NO! NO NO NO YOU CAN’T BELIEVE HIM BECAUSE HE DOESN’T THINK WHAT I THINK WAAAAAAAAAAHH” *stomping feet in temper tantrum*

            I read the report of the Royal Commission, and have in past comments on this site written about some of the blatant bias, bigotry, and poor reasoning it displayed. I’m not going to repeat myself, fascinating though I know each and every word that I write is.

            No doubt you will continue to do what you’ve done all along: attack Cardinal Pell, and whine about Mr. Weigel’s articles because they don’t reflect your personal opinion. And every time something you write is shown to be wrong you’ll continue to shift and drag in something else that’s either irrelevant or inaccurate.

            Since we’re into repeating things – I can’t remember, did you ever say whether you reported the abuse about which you were so knowledgeable back in the 1980s?

    • Yes we know you have a pathological hatred for Cardinal Pell, and even if he has been cleared of all charges against him, in your heart he will always be guilty-even if you cannot quite figure out what exactly he is guilty of. You should give your Pellphobia a rest and get some professional help.

      • A classic example of intransigence and most likely conformation bias Johan. The condescending nature of advise offered is childish and regrettable. My line of reasoning and many contributions here on this page are not about Cardinal Pells guilt or innocence regarding the charges he has been acquitted of. I accept the findings of the high court. If you took the time to read with an attempt at understanding this would be obvious but no, you would rather condemn the messenger and ignore the message.

        • You accept the High Court’s finding? You could have fooled me, since basically 90% of your posts indicate the contrary. What is childish and regrettable is your endless moaning about how evil Cardinal Pell supposedly is, how wonderful the Royal Commission is and your clear attempt to hijack any thread that has anything remotely to do with Cardinal Pell to express your obsessive hatred of him.

          Give it a rest. Get help.

      • Leslie, with respect to your above post in responding to mine referencing Art 11 of Crimen Sollicitationis, please discuss this subject rather than waffle on about the peripheral distractions you prefer to indulge. It is the central point of my post and it clearly has profound implications for the subject we are debating, ie Mr Weigel’s narrative, how he has presented this issue with respect to Cardinal Pell, those within the church who question the churches response at the time snd the wider societal implications.

  8. Again I am reminded of the relevance of the recent CWR article about CS Lewis titled Seeking After Humanity.
    A quote from this article with relevance to this discussion:
    “ Fr. Ward: Because anyone who’s serious about ethics has to grapple with whether right and wrong are objective realities or not. If morality is merely subjective, what are we even arguing about? There’s no point in trying to arrive at a reasoned conclusion about moral questions if good and evil are nothing more than private opinions. In a subjectivist world, right and wrong are really about power. Right becomes might. Ethics turns into a shouting-match, or worse.“

    • Mr. Hallam,
      The courts of criminal law sometimes make errors but those judgements are what a civil society abides by. If there’s an appeal heard & things don’t go the way we want, we can be assured justice will be served in the next life.

  9. No competent sailor unties the mooring lines and goes to sea with disregard to the wind, its force, gentle or strong, north, south, east or west. There are large windjammers, schooners, ketches and small yachts, each with captain, first mate, crew and passengers. Those captains and crew who voyage out to sea with disregard and no respect for wind will, as time passes and situations evolve, inevitably succumb to the forces of nature with disastrous consequences.

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