Five years ago, the news that Australia’s most famous Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, was to be charged with historical sex offences would have been like a tsunami inside the church. Not now.
Today the mood is numbed acceptance, the feeling that this is the inevitable last act in the drama of a man who authored his own tragedy.
It was his appearances before the child abuse inquiries by the Victorian Parliament and the Royal Commission that really savaged his reputation, both because of the deficiencies they uncovered and because of his wooden, cold responses.
But in the Australian Catholic Church, the damage from clergy abuse was done long ago, and the latest development is merely cause for more disappointment. For years, most ordinary Catholics have focused on their local parishes and ignored the hierarchy, as dismayed as anyone by the shocking revelations of official cover-ups, moving paedophile priests and silencing victims.
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