Human rights

Resign Cardinal Pell

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Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence calls for the immediate resignation of Cardinal George Pell over his egregious neglect in protecting children from sexual abuse by Catholic churchmen.

(Image: John Spooner / The Age)



LATE THIS afternoon, Prime Minister Julia Gillard succumbed to growing police, public and political pressure to announce a national Royal Commission into child sex abuse by Churches and other institutions, organisations.

The terms of the Royal Commission have yet to be defined. In her article, Lawrence calls for a Royal Commission specifically into the Catholic Church.

"I understand that information presented to the Inquiry in Victoria, revealed the ugly fact that the rate of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church is six times higher than that of other Churches," said Lawrence.

My concerns are that a wider ranging Royal Commission, against the backdrop of other scenario, will simply once again dilute the seriousness and criminality of these particular religious perpetrators and cloud the reality that sex abuse of children has become a career path for paedophiles who enter the Church to simply join this elite and privileged all-male club to enjoy the spoils of young meat."


AS A HOST of Priests and Christian Brothers are thrusting their fingers, penises and other implements into the torn and bleeding anuses and other orifice of little children, are they thinking ― this is what Jesus would do?

As the gutless Cardinal George Pell continues to make a sacrament out of moral cowardice on the issues of murder, manslaughter, aiding and abetting, consorting, multiple suicides, rapes, sexual assaults, abuse and violence and other  recreational activities of an alarming number of his brethren, does he ask himself, what would Jesus do?

How dare the likes of political expedients Bill Shorten and Joe Hockey decry victims the right to a National Royal Commission on this stinking cesspit?

What are these two Catholics afraid of ― justice?

Who are they protecting?

And who is the powerful political, corporate and judicial elite protecting?

Joe Hockey says a Royal Commission will further traumatise victims.


Not the victims I know.

His Eminence Cardinal Pell should stop hiding behind his tarnished crucifix and resign.

He is a repeat offender in failed leadership. He should be demanding a Royal Commission. He should have demanded it decades ago.

Last month, Victoria's Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton revealed to an astonished public and parliamentary enquiry, the disgusting fact that in 56 years of investigating Church-related sexual abuse cases, the Catholic Church in this State had not reported even a single case to police.

On October 19, Paul Mulvey of Australian Associated Press wrote that:
In damning evidence to a parliamentary inquiry on Friday, Mr Ashton said that of the 620 cases of abuse the church has internally upheld in Victoria since 1956, none had been reported to police.

He said in those 56 years, police had investigated 2110 offences committed by clergy and church workers against 519 victims, of which 370 were committed by Catholic priests or brothers. He said 87 per cent of the victims were boys aged 11 or 12.

Remember, Ashton's statistics refer only to those cases dealt with by Police. It would not be exaggerating to at least double those figures.

There's more tangible evidence before Pell of the extent of sexual abuse and violence perpetrated by his own brethren upon little children than there is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead ― and yet Pell seems to be in a denial that would put even St Peter to shame.

The cocks have crowed more than thrice this time around.

The situation is intolerable. In truth, it was from the day the first child was brutalised. And if God knows when that was, he isn't telling. And neither is his Church or his apostles. These are their dirty little secrets. Or were.

Barney Zwartz, much respected Religion Editor for The Age, with good reason has strongly condemned the very nature of Victoria's Parliamentary Inquiry into the Churches' handling of clergy sex abuse cases.

The Inquiry is clothed in more secrecy than the Shroud of Turin. It is a sham and a farce.

On November 7, Zwartz lambasted the Inquiry in a robust and impassioned plea on behalf of victims and in the interests of transparency, public accountability and Justice.
Why are there only three full days of hearings and three half days out of 23 available to the end of November? When will the next hearings be? Why doesn't the committee publish in reasonable time who will appear? (Several witnesses have told me their appointed times weeks in advance, but the community gets paltry notice. On Tuesday, Friday's witnesses had yet to be announced. Why?) Will all the witnesses who want to give evidence be called? If not, who will be and on what basis will they be chosen? When will the witnesses be told? Why has the committee put on its website a bare fraction of submissions?

Each question gets a response, but bland and deliberately uninformative. Generic reply: the committee is thinking about it; it's too early to say. These are mostly simple questions of procedure. What is the need for secrecy? The committee has been asked that - it won't say.

Victims advocate Bryan Keon-Cohen, QC, has pointed out how essential it is to get documents from the Catholic Church, without which the committee will be deflected by ''bullshit motherhood statements from sophisticated church spokesmen''. Will it demand them? Answer: a parliamentary committee has such power but it is rarely exercised. Another evasion. This may be a litmus test of how serious the committee is.

Another litmus test was the response to the explosive testimony of Victoria Police, reflecting its frustration and anger at the Catholic Church, which it claimed hindered them, obfuscated and even alerted priests that they were under investigation. The police received half an hour of polite questions in the most general terms. If this is all, it's woefully inadequate.

Victims have waited so long for this inquiry. They wanted a proper judicial inquiry - as did almost everyone except the government and the Catholic Church. But this is what they have been given, and they have to pin their hopes to it.

They must be heard. And their accounts must be investigated. As I've implored before, the committee has to dig forensically into the evidence and check the stories.

In NSW, where Cardinal Pell moved to from Victoria, the courageous Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox told Lateline's Tony Jones that he'd investigated so many sexual assault cases in his 30 years with the Force that he'd lost count.

But, if Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Church is not honest with us, thank goodness Peter Fox is.
“I've seen the worst society can dredge up, particularly the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church."

Tony Jones asked Fox what was the worst of it. Peter Fox replied:
Oh, Tony, I think most people would be absolutely crumpled up in tears to hear it.

Just some examples of what I've sat and listened to is that one young boy at the hands of paedophile priest James Fletcher, he was 12 years of age when the priest drove to a secluded park outside of Maitland.

He told the boy to remove his pants and the boy was totally unaware of what was going on and quite embarrassed, but that particular priest anally penetrated him.

The boy wasn't aware at that stage that his anus had been torn and he started bleeding.

He was screaming in agony on the seat and his knuckles were turning white. And as the priest continued to thrust while he screamed, he said he focused on the St Christopher's Cross on the dashboard and watched it swaying back and forward to try and take his focus off the pain.

The priest never relented at any stage during that, and even after the act was completed, he was totally uncaring for the child and simply sat back in the driver's seat and had a cigarette while he finished sobbing.

Well, some priests like a smoko after sex with minors, and what's a ruptured anus or two between mates.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox also wrote an Open Letter to the closed-minded, mostly invisible, NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell.

A number of media outlets lacked the courage to publish the letter in full. The Newcastle Herald wasn't one of them. They published the Fox letter in the Opinion section on November 8 under the heading:

Don't block your ears to abuse, Mr Premier


I HAVE investigated so many sexual assaults in my 35 years of policing I’ve lost count. 

Having spent most of those years at the coal face, I have seen the worst society can dredge up, particularly the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church.

I am not in an executive position or relying on statistics or reports being shielded from reality, I speak from first-hand experience with victims and their abusers.

It is not an easy story to hear and the reason so many cover their ears and turn away. I’ve visited victims in mental hospitals and listened to families tell of suicides. I have looked into their faces, seen their tears of pain, anguish and despair, listened to the hurt of betrayal and felt their isolation from not being believed. 

We all hear the words ‘‘paedophile’’ or ‘‘child molester’’ but what do they really mean? The term ‘‘child abuse’’ sweeps over the acts sanitising images of this appalling crime. It’s our inbuilt defence to protect us from those horrific images.

Listening to their stories, typing their statements, I relived their pain. I haven’t blocked those images and they still haunt me. I visited them in psychiatric wards and saw the damage to their families. A solicitor from the DPP broke down reading one of my statements. The abuse was so abhorrent she asked to be relieved of the case. Is it any wonder people don’t want to hear and turn away?

Victims are coming forward in ever-increasing numbers but they need our support. They need your support, Mr Premier. Police are making arrests but still the abuse goes on. It is not enough to say, ‘‘I welcome the police decision to arrest another person [priest] accused of paedophilia’’, when on average it takes 21 years to report these crimes and the priest continues to prey on more little children. 

Often the church knows but does nothing other than protect the paedophile and its own reputation. It certainly doesn’t report abuse as revealed by the current Victorian inquiry. 

I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church. None of that stops at the Victorian border.

Convicted priest Vincent Ryan was sent to Victoria when the church learned of his abuse, returning the following year after things cooled down to pick up where he left off. 

Many police are frustrated by this sinister behaviour, which will continue until someone stops it. You have the power to do that, Mr Premier. The whole system needs to be exposed; the clergy covering up these crimes must to be brought to justice and the network protecting paedophile priests dismantled. There should be no place for evil or its guardians to hide. Then and only then will the arrests begin to slow, signalling fewer children are being raped. 

It is no longer enough to just arrest the wrongdoer 21 years after the crime.

 Removing the support that harbours these criminals is like cutting the head from the beast. It tears down the veil of secrecy behind which these vile animals operate with the self-assurance of immunity.

A priest once gave evidence that the church’s handling of child sex allegations was under control. 

That priest was named by victims as having allegedly helped to cover up the rape of children. 

His name continues to appear in other matters. Clearly everything is not under control. Alarm bells are ringing.

I have many family and friends who are Catholic. My children attend Catholic schools so I am not anti-Catholic. I voted for you, Mr O’Farrell, at the last election so my call for a royal commission is not politically motivated. My reason is from the suffering I have witnessed and a desire to make it stop.

There are more than just the victims and their families who want to see a royal commission. I have spoken to teachers who no longer want to be intimidated and silenced. I have sat with a priest and nun who were so distraught they felt forced to leave the church when they couldn’t remain silent. I have taken reports of ostracism and reprisals against victims’ families for giving evidence against priests at trial. If this doesn’t warrant a royal commission something is very wrong. 

Apologising is not enough. Compensating victims for treatment is not enough. Mr O’Farrell, please don’t block your ears. Many priests don’t want a royal commission nor does the hierarchy of the church, but God knows we need one. 

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox is a Hunter police officer with more than 35 years’ experience in the force.

The day before it published the letter, the Newcastle Herald published Joanne McCarthy's interview with Fox.

McCarthy thankfully picked up what was happening across the NSW borders in Victoria. She wrote:
The Catholic Church covers up the crimes of paedophile priests, silences victims and hinders police investigations, one of the Hunter's most experienced detectives alleges in a letter to Premier Barry O'Farrell in the Newcastle Herald today.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox has accused the church of alerting offenders, destroying evidence and moving priests to protect its "good name", based on his experiences over 35 years.

His comments mirrored Victoria Police submissions about the Catholic church to a parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse last month.

"Many police are frustrated by this sinister behaviour, which will continue until someone stops it," Chief Inspector Fox said in his first public statement after an extraordinary speech at a Newcastle rally in September in support of a royal commission on child sexual abuse.

He received a standing ovation after saying that Premier O'Farrell was wrong to say the NSW Police Force "had it all under control".

Chief Inspector Fox said teachers, victims and families had been silenced, intimidated and ostracised.

McCarthy revealed the personal dilemma in which Fox found himself:
Chief Inspector Fox called on Premier O'Farrell to hold a royal commission because police prosecutions alone would not address problems in the church.

His decision to speak at the Shine the Light rally in Newcastle in September, after the suicide of John Pirona, a victim of a notorious paedophile priest, was a spur-of-the-moment one.

"I listened to Peter Fitzsimons say that line about evil flourishing when good men do nothing and I thought, 'Here I am sitting here, knowing all this and saying nothing'.

"I asked myself, 'Am I one of those people allowing this to continue to flourish because I'm not saying anything?' That's why I spoke."

Thank you police officers Graham Ashton and Peter Fox for standing up against (some) members of your own tribe to tell the truth and for demanding a Royal Commission into these sordid, squalid and rampant paedophile rings; truly the Devil's Playground. These kids have indeed seen the Devil, and he wears a Crucifix.

Premier O' Farrell has since announced a limp Inquiry ― preposterously only into the Hunter Valley region sex abuse cases, patently ridiculous and a feeble attempt to divert attention away from the national plague – and its political consequences.

This move is nothing more than yet another cover-up in containment to protect the Catholic Church and it is an outrageous attempt to assuage growing public anger.

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell has announced a Special Commission of Inquiry into police handling of abuse by Catholic Church clergy in the Hunter Valley, after a senior detective aired claims of a cover-up.

When I and other little Catholic children learned our Catechism, the answer to the question

'Why did God make you?' was 'To know Him and to love Him...'

Little did some children come to realise this meant 'know' in the Biblical sense of the Word. As in the Word made flesh; Jesus the Man in the form of a Priest or a member of a Religious Order, God's representatives on Earth.

And in their sex dens, they blithely set about their sex trafficking, recruiting and grooming unsuspecting children and their parents, in schools, orphanages, institutions, monastries and churches.

You scored more points if you could defile a child on the altar; another notch on the Rosary Beads.
“ ...This is my body.....this is my this in remembrance of me."

Do what Cardinal Pell? Rape and pillage the bodies of children? Killing their childhood. Maiming their adulthood.

Agony for the children; ecstasy for the godmen.

If they got caught out, no worries, their co-conspirators in the Church would simply send them off to another parish and fresh culling fields.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the biggest and the best organised paedophile ring in Australia is conducted and protected under the corporate auspices of the Catholic Church and behind its loosened trouser zips.

It is 'succour the little children', Cardinal Pell ― not 'sucker the little children' and not 'suck the little children'.

I am sick to death of you and your legal henchmen hiding behind your Magenta and your    conniving corporate firewalls, and with you abrogating your indisputable and onerous responsibilities in these criminal matters with the silly excuse that you are not the head of the Catholic Church in Australia.

You may not be technically, but morally and in every other way you are, Cardinal Pell. You certainly assume the title when it suits you.

You are an offence to Catholicism and everything it is supposed to represent.

Your misogyny is notorious. You have no reason to loathe women save for your own sexual arrestment, but you have every reason to fear us and like-minded men, since, for the most part, we are neither fooled by you nor intimidated by you. You are a man; and not a just man.

You dominate the Roman Catholic Church in Australia. You represent it in the media, albeit ineptly. On April 14 this, year, after Cardinal Pell's embarrassing appearance on the ABC's Q&A, I wrote:
Richard Dawkins, who doesn’t believe in gods, Santa Claus, Santa Lucia, or Cardinal George Pell’s facile argument, was clearly losing patience with his intellectual inferior. So was I. It was a no contest.

The Catholic Church came off third best on Monday’s Q&A on ABC TV.

As penance, I counsel George Pell to recite five Acts of Contrition, 14 Hail Marys, because he clearly loathes marianists; read a couple of Ikea church of assembly kit instructions based on the dead sea scrolls; Dr Barbara Thiering’s ‘Jesus the Man’; the Pesher Technique; and one or two Lords Prayers, just for bringing the Catholic Church into even more disrepute.

George Pell and his intimate circle, known as the Spice Girls have shoved their fundamentalist joyless, homophobic and misogynist nonsense down the parched throats of Australian Catholicism for too long.

His infantile protectionism of the children of the book and the Old and New Testaments on Q&A, was a demeaning representation of a faith that I have long filed under ‘never to be opened unless by a female Catholic priest’.

Pell has so much in common with seriously whacky Imams, Reverends and Rabbis and Presidential candidates, whose fundamentalist rigid posture indicts their own religions as being incapable of withstanding mere mortal scrutiny and debate.

Click here for the full article and part of the Q&A transcript.

Clean up your act Cardinal Pell.

You appear to be little more than a religious psychopath.

Your constant obfuscation over the corruption, your denials at what is clearly systemic sex abuse, your over-riding concern for the monetary bureaucracy of the Church rather than the Family of the Church and your lack of compassion for victims and their families, is disgusting.

At the time of going to press, you have refused to comment on calls for your resignation.

If you refuse to lead, then stand aside.

Like Peter Fox and others, I too have sat with victims and taken impact statements and conducted investigations.

I recall one little boy who was wearing the skin of a sobbing older man telling me how his bottom (he didn't call it his anus) was ripped apart and was bleeding profusely by Father 'sticking his thing into me' and how Father liked to stick his Rosary Beads 'up there' when he finished, and liked to draw it out, ever so slowly. And then Father would kiss the Rosary Beads and Crucifix in his hands and 'thank me for blessing it in my special Holy Water.'

Resign, Cardinal Pell.

(Disclosure: Tess Lawrence has worked for the Catholic Church, specifically in relation to child sex abuse. In the original version of this piece, we inadvertently spelt The Age religion editor Barney Zwartz surname incorrectly (Swartz); this was corrected at 9.24 am AEST 13/11/12.)

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