The Washington Post Editorial Condemns Cardinal George Pell
By Josephine Tovey
Sydney Morning Herald
March 8, 2016
One of the most influential newspapers in the United States, The Washington Post, has devoted an editorial to Australian Cardinal George Pell's appearance at the royal commission last week, noting his "stumbles" and condemning some of his testimony for seeking to "airbrush the church's staggering lapses."
The newspaper's editorial board told its readers that on the same day the film Spotlight, which depicts an investigation into abusive priests in Boston's Catholic church, was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture, a "related drama" was taking place in the Vatican, as Australia's most senior Catholic gave testimony to a commission back in Australia.
The fact is that the church was institutionally complicit in allowing men in positions of authority, in hundreds of dioceses worldwide, to abuse children, thereby damaging or wrecking their lives.
Washington Post editorial
The Post stated that while Cardinal George Pell stayed mostly "on message" during his appearances before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, he "stumbled" at several moments, and in doing so, revealed "the shortcomings in the church's response to revelations of misconduct."
|Cardinal George Pell arrives at the child abuse Royal Commission|
Examples cited by The Post were comments that have already been the source of controversy in Australia, including his response to a question about whether paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale's offending was "common knowledge" in the 1970s. Cardinal Pell described it as "a sad story and it was not of much interest to me".
The paper also quoted Pell stating "there's tendency to evil in the Catholic Church too and sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse but for good or for ill the Church follows the patterns of the societies in which it lives."
"That formulation," the editorial board wrote, "often heard from church officials, seeks obliquely to airbrush the church's staggering lapses and reflects the Vatican's ongoing failure to come fully to terms with the pattern of abuse."
"The fact is that the church was institutionally complicit in allowing men in positions of authority, in hundreds of dioceses worldwide, to abuse children, thereby damaging or wrecking their lives."
The Washington Post's executive editor, Marty Baron, is the former editor of The Boston Globe and was instrumental in driving the investigation into sexual abuse depicted in Spotlight.
Cardinal Pell, who gave testimony before the commission over four days last week, later said he regrets his choice of words when stating the Ridsdale's reputation did not interest him, saying he "responded poorly."