The *uck stops with Cardinal George Pell

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Cardinal Pell has yet to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Child Abuse in Ballarat, but his spectre looms large over proceedings, writes contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.


CARDINAL GEORGE PELL, the priesty fuck stops with you.

It appears some of your fellow brethren agree.

Pell and his advisors have long been in acute damage control since his personal testimony to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations called by then Premier Liberal Ted Baillieu on 17 April 2012.

The Inquiry was prompted by persistent media reports, the documented suicides of victims and decades long courageous advocacy by victims/survivors, families, support groups and champion lawyers, including Dr Vivian Waller.

It was there that Pell's infamous hardcore arrogance and sociopathic lack of compassion was laid bare to the general public and amateur and professional psychologist alike.

The Cardinal's continual obfuscation and impatience at having his auteur status and culpability challenged and questioned by representatives of the state on behalf of the people gave us a glimpse of the bad, the worse and the festering ugliness behind the Confessional's iron curtain.

We bore witness to how delusions of ruling heavenly kingdoms were indivisible from delusions of holding dominion over earthly ones.

This Inquiry publicly eviscerated from dank cloisters the extent of industrial-strength child sex abuse perpetrated by the clergy and the squalid depravity of predatory priests, brothers and lay employees.

The live broadcasts exposed the networks of these career paedophiles, some of whom, despite criminal convictions and known paedophilic proclivities, were harboured and given sanctuary within the bosom of the male-dominated and patriarchal club that hides behind the sly matronly sobriquet of "Mother Church".

Mother Fuckers indeed, in the literal sense of the rapster's words.

These perpetrators were indisputably aided and abetted by an obliging Catholic heirarchy, some of their number even colluding and active participants in these heinous crimes.


The revelations shocked the wider community and perhaps for the first time in Australia shone a national spotlight on the semen-soiled collective groin and stained cassocks of these serial abusers.

The Inquiry was to precipitate the current national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse announced by then Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard on November 12th the same year, 48 hours after New South Wales announced its own Inquiry.

For the latter, credit must be given to the heroic efforts of whistleblower Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox and former nurse turned journalist, Joanne McCarthy of the Newcastle Herald, who went on to win the 2013 Gold Walkey Award for her challenging and ongoing investigations.

Tribute must be paid to McCarthy's steadfast editor, Chad Watson. Lesser editors have buckled under lesser pressure.

Their work, combined with Fox's revelations on ABC's Lateline, did much to contribute to the swelling national juggernaut about these squalid crimes, their horrendous consequences, and the widespread damage and injury inflicted upon Australian society.

By any definition, including that of sexual war crimes, like so many little ones abused within institutions, including wards of the state, some of these children were hostage to their circumstances and were little more than sex slaves. Prisoners. For them, there was nowhere to run or hide.

Interviewed by Tony Jones on 8 November 2012, Fox thankfully disposed of irritating euphemisms.

From Lateline's transcript

TONY JONES: Let's start with how you got so frustrated and angry that you were publicly challenging the NSW Premier. Now your letter to Premier O'Farrell begins like this: "I've investigated so many sexual assaults in 30 years of policing that I've lost count. I've seen the worst society can dredge up, particularly the evil of paedophilia within the Catholic Church." What is the worst of it?

PETER FOX: 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 [the boy] finished sobbing.

The day after Fox's Lateline appearance, then NSW Liberal Premier Barry O'Farrell was shamed into announcing his special commission of inquiry into Fox's allegations, strangely confining it to the Hunter Valley.

It was not the Royal Commission Fox had called for in his open letter to the Premier published in the Newcastle Herald.

If child sex abuse were an Olympic sport – and certainly for some the pursuit of young flesh was indeed sport – then the Catholic Church's Elite Paedophile God Squad would be gold medallists in the Hall of Infamy.

Thousands upon thousands of children in Australia alone have been sacrificed on the altar of paedophilia in the name of their blasphemed God, with priests and others doing to the least of our little children what they were doing unto Jesus. Fucking him.

Some perpetrators used the Church's altar itself upon which to rape their defenceless victims.


Published and other testimonies of victims show the behaviour and pattern of perpetrators to be more akin to the activities of satanic cults than a church concerned with the pastoral care and guardianship of the weakest of its flock.

This is a dark world where the meekest did not inherit the earth but were forced to eat its filth; to suck the cocks of priests and brothers, to masturbate them and to endure having their anuses ripped, ruptured and bloodied from penetration by adult humans and inanimate objects, including the crucifix.

Penes and fists were used to rape and forever nail child victims to an invisible but burdensome cross many still carry upon their older shoulders.

We ought never to temper language or to dilute the brutal reality of the abuse. To do so would be an insult to those victims/survivors who are living and to those who are now dead, and to those who are the 'walking dead' as one victim described himself to me. 


For too long, the sinister code of religious omerta has been the rule of lore; the Church's corrupt coven of Paedophiles Inc, flouting and ignoring the rule of law. 

And what of those victims who have suicided? What of the blistering tragedy of regional suicide clusters, such as that in the Ballarat region — perhaps Australia's suicide capital of victims of the Catholic Church's endemic paedophilia?

What of families and friends?

Surely we ought not to countenance the victim-blaming subtlety of the oft-used phrase that these victims 'took their own lives.'

They did not. Their lives were taken from them.

Arguably, they were "murdered" by default by their perpetrators – manslaughtered at the least – including by those who knew of the abuse and the abusers but kept silent and did nothing; accessories before and after the facts.


Some victims/survivors are unable to extricate themselves or their psyches from the injurious horrors of the ever present lurking past; their inner child imprisoned inside them like a vanishing twin forever trapped within them.

Cardinal Pell has yet to give further testimony to this Royal Commission but at its Ballarat sitting in May, the explosive and damaging video appearance from Ararat Prison, of incarcerated serial paedophile priest and former Pell housemate, Gerald Francis Ridsdale was a game changer in the legal upskirting of liturgical vestments.

Under questioning, Ridsdale did little to assuage widespread and legitimate criticism of Pell's leadership and instead of exonerating Pell, further muddied the extent of his culpability.

Hear no evil? Father Gerald Ridsdale (still a priest) fingers his ear whilst giving evidence to the Royal Commission by video from Ararat Prison. (Image via


Ridsdale's well-staged appearance and selective memory stopped well short of excluding Pell's presence when Ridsdale was raping a child in his (Ridsdale's) bedroom.

In the seventies, Pell and Ridsdale both had rooms at St Alipius presbytery in Ballarat.

We should remain mindful that among Ridsdale's victims was a four-year-old. He had long dispensed with the nuisance of moral boundaries.

His own nephew David Ridsdale told the Royal Commission he was regularly sexually abused by his uncle Father Gerald Ridsdale and that, in 1993, he told George Pell about the abuse. David Ridsdale alleges Pell tried to bribe him to keep quiet about the abuse.

This from the ABC's report:

I remember with clarity the last three lines we spoke together:

"Me: Excuse me, George, what the fuck are you talking about?

"George: I want to know what it will take to keep you quiet.

"Me: Fuck you, George, and everything you stand for.

Gerald Ridsdale has an frightening history of betraying children, injuring them physically and mentally — causing the deaths and suicides of some of his many hundreds of victims.

Ridsdale's evidence to the Royal Commission left a sink hole filled with doubt and contradictory evidence, especially about then priest, now Cardinal, George Pell.

He left little doubt about the complicity and culpability of the then Bishop of Ballarat Ronald Mulkearns, who has the ignominious glory of presiding over what might prove to be per capita, the Catholic Church's sex abuse capital — not only of Australia, but of the world.


Ridsdale's shrewdly elastic memory expanded just enough to forever tightly bind together Pell and Mulkearns as key actors in any evidentiary documentation of the Church's propensity for the sexual abusing of children.

For decades, Pell has unsuccessfully tried to rid himself of the public turbulence of paedophile priests and brothers, and to extricate himself from any allegations that he not only knew what was going on, and did nothing to facilitate perpetrators to be moved to another parish.

Pell has also had to withstand allegations that he, too, was a perpetrator. The Catholic Church even paid for an inquiry into the allegations.



On condition of anonymity, a church insider has told Independent Australia that Ridsdale and Pell have had an acrimonious falling out.

Neither myself nor Independent Australia make any imputation whatever about Cardinal Pell and/or if he witnessed Ridsdale raping a child in a room in the premises they shared.

We have been informed that Ridsdale, whose prowess as an arch manipulator and groomer is now a matter of public record, is angry that he has been "deserted" by the Catholic Church, and feels abandoned by Pell who in 1993 notoriously accompanied his one-time friend and flatmate to Court, where Ridsdale pleaded guilty to a litany of indecent assault charges.


If Ridsdale's intentions and answers to the Royal Commission were to ensure Pell was recalled to give evidence to clarify matters, then he succeeded.

In The Age on May 28, Jane Lee and Rania Spooner wrote:

Another priest was present when Gerald Ridsdale raped a child in his bedroom in a house he shared with other priests, including George Pell, a royal commission has heard.

Ridsdale told the royal commission he could not remember who the priest was.

.... Counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, asked Ridsdale about his abuse of a child in his bedroom at St Alipius' presbytery, where he lived with George Pell in the early 1970s. Ridsdale has accepted that he lived with Pell at the time, but has told the commission he cannot remember having any dealings with him.

.... Between 1972 and 1973, he abused a girl after she followed him into his bedroom to see his rock collection.

The girl believed that there was another priest there for a short time while Ridsdale sexually abused her, but did not intervene. 

"I accept that's what she believed," Ridsdale said.

…. Counsel assisting the commission said "can you help us with who was the priest?"

"I don't know, because I've said I don't know who the other priests were there [living at the presbytery] at the same time, except George Pell."

Gerald Ridsdale hides behind sunglasses whilst, in 1993, bare-faced mate George Pell accompanies his one time flatmate to Court, when Ridsdale pleaded guilty to a litany of indecent assault charges.

Victims and family members were understandably angry when this photo appeared, saying that Pell never accompanied any of them to court

The second stage of the Ballarat sittings are scheduled to start on 23 November in Melbourne, causing outrage among victims/survivors and hundreds of other interested parties who want Pell and Mulkearns to give evidence in Ballarat.

Victoria's Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has lent his support to the Ballarat sittings being resumed in that city.

From AAP (7/8/15):

"I'm confident that the royal commission will do the right thing and come and hear evidence that is directly relevant to the people of Ballarat in that great city" ...

The premier said it was respectful and appropriate to hear at least the most high-profile witnesses in Ballarat.

"The people of Ballarat, survivors and their families, those who've spent so much time dealing with the grief and the pain and the loss of this terrible abuse, I think they're entitled to hear evidence in their own local area," he said.

Of course, the Royal Commission should reconvene in Ballarat for these particular case studies. 

To do otherwise could forever be seen as judicial cowardice and merely capitulating to the convenience of the self-important Pell and Mulkearns, who, we might suppose, would rather give testimony far from the scene of the crimes perpetrated by the likes of Gerald Francis Ridsdale and others.

If anyone reading this needs help, or anyone you know does, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Contact he Royal Commission on 1800 099 340 or email

DISCLOSURE: Tess Lawrence has worked for the Christian Brothers. 

The John Graham feature art used in the piece may be purchased from the IA store.

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