Cardinal Pell.is facing criminal charges of sex abuse in his home country of Australia.
I have been asked if I think he will be found guilty of these charges. As I have always believed in justice for all it would not be right for me to pre judge any criminal case before it is tried in a court, the law will take it’s course.
What I have no hesitation in saying is that it has been proved that Cardinal Pell is guilty of the appalling mishandling of cases of abuse when still in place in Australia and causing untold pain to the victims in those cases. He should never have been allowed to hide out in the Vatican to avoid having to face those in his home country who needed answers. The fact that Cardinal Pell was appointed to a very senior post in the Vatican rather than having to face any sanction for his mishandling of abuse cases was a slap in the face to all those he had let down so badly, not only victims but Catholic people who have spent years now hearing assurance from the Catholic Church that it is taking the issue seriously. How does promotion to an exalted position in the Church show justice to those he had failed?.
Finally now that the Cardinal has actually been charged with abuse himself he has been stepped down from his position and will not be allowed to avoid facing court by remaining in the Vatican – far too late. Leaving aside the issue of whether he should have been in that position in the first place, once an accusation of sexual abuse was made against him he should have been stepped down until that accusation had been investigated. This is the standard that applies to ordinary priests and religious in my country and elsewhere under Church guidelines- why should rank make any difference.
The case of Cardinal Pell has shown is how little reliance we can put on assurances from the Catholic Church that bishops and religious superiors will face sanctions if they mishandle abuse cases. It did not happen with him and still we have not seen any bishop transparently sanctioned or removed for negligence in handling abuse. We were told that the PCPM’s recommended Accountability Tribunal announced in June 2015, though never implemented, had not been needed as the Holy Father’s Moto Propo in 2016 “As a Loving Mother” expanded on it and all provisions for sanctions were in place and would be implemented.
We are now half way through 2017 – can the Vatican show that any cases of negligent bishops or religious superiors have been been examined or that the provisions of the moto propo been put in place? or is it just another case of many promises, many words but no action.
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