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Title: Pellgate? Credit: Craig Young Comment Tuesday 2nd August 2016 - 4:25pm1470111900 Article: 18604 Rights
 
Just at the time when the Australian Christian Right needs him the most, Catholic Cardinal George Pell stands accused himself of child sexual abuse. This is ironic, given the Cardinal's role in agitating against marriage equality within Australia. Born in 1942 to a Ballarat Catholic pub owner, Pell fell under the early influence of right-wing Australian Catholic layperson B.A. Santamaria, whose conservative agitation split the Australian Labor Party into two hostile factions. The "Democratic Labor Party" then kept the ALP out of power until demographic contraction hit it at the beginning of the seventies and it disappeared from Australian federal and state elections. In 1962, he entered the priesthood and was recognised as an earnest doctrinal conservative by kindred spirits within the Australian Catholic hierarchy, who resolved to steadily promote the young man as one of their own. He spent two years at the Vatican, learning the inner workings of the institutional church (1969-1971). Back in Australia, there was one thing that particularly came to overshadow his subsequent career within the church. That wasCrimens Sollicitianus(1962), a secret church directive that threatened any Catholic bishop who relinquished pedophile priests to secular law enforcement for punishment with excommunication. Unfortunately for victims of Catholic clergy pedophilia, this monstrous instrument of institutional self-preservation. Consequently, Pell turned a blind eye to what went on under that heading- concealment, denial, intimidation, harrassment and expulsion of clergy pedophilia victims from the church while the offenders were 'disciplined' through transferal to other dioceses, where reoffending occurred. The Special Issues Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference kept it in place and as he rose through the clergy ranks, Pell knew about its core role in determining and maintaining this destructive policy. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference even took out an insurance policy to safeguard the institution against prospective prosecutions and Pell himself hired a public relations firm to insure that attention was diverted onto other issues. Using his Santamaria connections, Pell became a columnist forAD2000,a National Civic Council journal, churning out robotic denunciations of abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, marxism, contraception, stem cell research, in vitro fertilisation, liberal Catholicism, erotica, feminism and other bugbears. In 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became John Paul II and was impressed by the Australian priest's resolute and doctrinaire religious social conservatism, as was his righthand director of the Congregation for the Defence of the Faith, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, later to become John Paul II's successor, Benedict XVI, before his sudden abdication. Cardinal Ratzinger invited him back to Rome. Thereafter, under both popes, Pell rose rapidly up the clerical ranks- Bishop of Ballarat (1986), Archbishop of Melbourne (1996) and Sydney, before John Paul II appointed him as a Cardinal in 2002. Meanwhile, under John Paul II's long pontificate, the same wretched denial, knowledge and toleration of Catholic clergy pedophilia contined apace, worsened by the incumbent pontiff's anti-secularism and doctrinal conservatism, which placed institutional survival and collegiality above any concept of accountability or transparency related to the lives damaged and destroyed by decades of child sexual abuse. Indeed, in 1983, John Paul II issued a Code of Canon Law that made it even more difficult for honest and honourable individual bishops to sack and punish pedophile priests for their crimes against children. To give Pell some credit, as the full hideous extent of the clergy pedophilia crisis became obvious to him, he established a financial reparation and mediation service within the Australian Catholic Church, but resented being challenged by angry pedophilia survivors and their loved ones over the suicides, mental illness and substance abuse that clergy pedophiles had left in their wake. Meanwhile, he antagonised LGBT Australians through his wilful ignorance of HIV/AIDS and his resort to the hackneyed lie that gay men 'recruit' younger men into our communities, as well as his later opposition to marriage equality. After he became Benedict XVI, Ratzinger appointed his old friend head of the Pontifical Commission for the Family (anti-contraception) and Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace (against Catholic social justice and peace activists), and liturgical and Vatican financial reform became other responsibilities. Australia has also instituted a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse by Religious and Other Offenders, which has been a constant thorn in his side as his complicity in several decades of concealment and denial of Catholic clergy pedophilia have become clear. And now, there has been stated that he may have exposed himself to several boys while engaged in his ecclesiastical activities as Bishop of Ballarat, which he denies strenuously. But if this is true, it will cast a deep, dark shadow over conservative Catholicism within Australia, at a time when it is struggling against liberal Catholic advocates for social justice and institutional transparency and accountability...as well as LGBT communities just before the arrival of the Australian marriage equality plebiscite. Recommended: David Marr:The Prince: The Church, Abuse and George Pell:Collingwood: Black Inc: 2014. Tess Livingstone:George Pell:Sydney: Duffy and Snellgrove/Pan Macmillan: 2002. Tess Livingstone:George Pell: Defender of the Faith Down Under:San Francisco: Ignatius Press: 2004. George Pell et al (ed)God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Politics, Religion and Society:Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press: 2007 "Cardinal George Pell denies child sexual abuse claims" BBC News: 28.07.2016:http://www.bbc. com/news/world-australia- 36911464 Craig Young - 2nd August 2016    
 
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