OPINION: Cardinal Pell: a legacy of shame and failure

Sydney Morning Herald

May 8, 2020

By Barney Zwartz

It may be possible – remotely – as Cardinal George Pell claims, that he did not know about the crimes of paedophile Gerald Ridsdale until much later than the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse thinks he did. But if so, it must have required the most herculean effort, the most Nelsonian blind eye, to avoid something so well known that priests in Ballarat and Melbourne were gossiping about it.

But Nelson turning his blind eye to the telescope at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 was a matter of national heroism. Pell’s blind eye served only himself, and at a huge cost to victims, their families, and the professionals who tried to intervene.

For the young and ambitious Pell, a priest in Ballarat clearly destined for high office, knew one thing: whistle-blowers don’t go on to glorious careers in the institutions they hold to account. Embarrass the church, and you can forget about a cardinal’s red hat and a vital Vatican role.

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