George Pell: Judgment gives solace to victims

The Age
August 22, 2019

The dismissal of Cardinal George Pell's appeal against his conviction, vindicates and provides some solace to those who have spoken out against being sexually abused by priests and other paedophiles. May it give them some peace that their experiences have been believed and they have truly been heard. This judgment helps to restore one's faith in the justice system, which so often seems to reward those with the most power and money.

Suzy and Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Don't blame judiciary, blame the hierarchy

For those Catholics feeling bad right now. Feeling hunted. Feeling let down. You have been. Not by the judiciary, but by your hierarchy. The time is now, not to circle the wagons but to look outwards. Look to your fellow Catholics whose lives have been ruined, through no fault of their own, because they or a loved one have been sexually assaulted as a child or because they have called out what they saw and lost their livelihoods as a result.

Julian Guy, Mount Eliza

Now, the defining moment has come

Today all print and TV media outlets are referring to convicted sex offender George Pell as Cardinal George Pell. Technically he is still a cardinal until and if the Vatican defrock him. However the media and the rest of society, if they need to speak of him at all, should refer him as George Pell convicted child abuser.

Peter Roche, Carlton

A defence well-funded

Much is being made of the 2-1 decision that was handed down and that Pell may go to the High Court within 28 days, still with no certainty of being heard. The vast sums of money spent on his defence indicate that there would be no shortage of funds to take this further step. I wonder if in other such cases of 2-1 decisions if any similarly aggrieved person, strongly protesting his innocence, would be able to also take this course without access to the vast sums of money and a large powerful employer such as Pell enjoys. He has had the best legal resources that money can buy and some fine legal minds working in his interests. As the court has stressed, he is not to be seen as a scapegoat for the crimes of so many others.

John Paine, Kew East

Plaudits to the system

The justice system has supported a credible, courageous complainant – bravo!

Kevan Porter, Alphington

A dwindling following in church

As a lifelong Catholic of 69 years, I'm appalled by the behaviour of a small but significant number of Catholic clergy who abused children and also by the cover-up by church leaders. Cardinal Pell's behaviour is but a small part of this terrible scandal.

I understand that some Catholics are leaving the church over this issue. But the reality is since the 1960s Catholics have stopped attending Mass in huge numbers. Despite attending Mass every Sunday still being a compulsory part of Catholic practice, only about 10 per cent of baptised Catholics regularly attend Mass. As older Catholics die, this number is heading for 5 per cent. There are so few priests, even for the dwindling numbers, that priests are being imported from India, Africa and Vietnam.

As for confession, only about 1 in a 1000 baptised Catholics regularly attend confession.

Until the Catholic Church faces up to this reality, and that the vast majority of baptised Catholics are only baptised so they can attend the popular Catholic primary and secondary schools and will never participate in church liturgies outside of schools and Christmas celebrations, the church will continue to deteriorate.

Married and women priests will not solve this problem.

Barry Kearney, Ringwood North

FORUM The buck has to stop

It takes an economist to point out the need for cost-benefit analysis to clarify the real problems in the way we deal with our rubbish. Ross Gittins' comments ("The delusion of recycling", 21/8) indicate the extent to which we've come to rely on a commercial fix for the problem: we've deluded ourselves that our recycling efforts were "doing the right thing" for too long. Eventually, though, the buck has to stop somewhere.

What worries me is that our approach to environmental management is too narrowly focused on the affordability or otherwise of sorting and reprocessing our waste. Gittins correctly identifies excess packaging as one factor we should address, but he fails to consider two further developments that are already being tested successfully: combining food scraps with green waste to produce fertilisers, and using waste combustion as an energy source.

We must urgently recognise that waste disposal is only one aspect of the wider environmental and economic picture.

Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Less packaging

Our waste problem began when manufacturers implemented changes to goods' packaging and found ways to tap into the nation's lazy psyche. Think back 20years ago when most biscuits were packaged tightly in a cellophane wrap. Fast forward and today most biscuits are packaged in a shock-proof container, which is then wrapped in a plastic-based wrapper. Pancake batter can be mixed in the home from goods packaged in paper. Nowadays it can be bought in a once-off-shake-it-bin-it container. Fruit and vegetables are sold pre-packed for presumed consumer convenience and, in so doing, excess packaging waste is created.

Whether or not the packaging waste is recyclable is immaterial, because it is the sheer volume of waste causing today's waste problem.

If the amount of rubbish generated is to decrease, consumers must demand less packaging from manufacturers and supermarkets and immediately stop buying overly packaged and convenience goods. Manufacturers and supermarkets must also bear responsibility and rethink how their goods are packaged and delivered to minimise the waste they encourage the consumer and waste industry to take on.

Sue Bennett, Sunbury

Protect batsmen

Time for the cricket authorities to make rules that will protect the batsman. Either enforce the wearing of the protective neck gear or restrict the bowlers to below-the-shoulder height deliveries. One known death to fast bowling is enough. The sight of a batsman lying prone after a vicious delivery should not be applauded. As well the example it gives to all cricketers, especially at the lower levels, that it is OK to target batsmen in that manner is unconscionable.

Doris LeRoy, Altona

Not in same league

It doesn't seem right to mention Alan Jones and Jacinda Ardern in the same breath. One represents everything that hurts our society – divisiveness, derision and hubris. The other exemplifies the attributes necessary to create a harmonious society – respect, humility and generosity of spirit. Shame on those who continue to tune in.

Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South

Sales pitch

Warwick McFadyen's suggestion (21/8) that Donald Trump might offer to buy Australia is a dangerous one. If it helped Morrison and Frydenberg with their budget surplus they might well sell – if it were theirs to sell. Trump might have to buy it from the traditional owners and they would be far less interested in achieving a budget surplus. Isuspect that the response of the hoi polloi to such a Trump offer would be far less polite than "Australia is not for sale".

John Walsh, Watsonia

Trump narcissism

A Danish legislator said Trump's bid to buy Greenland was a "grotesque proposal". But that is consistent with Trump's narcissism. I don't know whether this is final proof that he's gone mad. The signs have been there all along. What's astounding is how the Americans managed to install such a man as president.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Heart of matter

The Heart Foundation says full-fat dairy is now OK, unless you have heart disease or high cholesterol levels. Judging by the increasing obesity levels of Australians, few would even be aware they had potential coronary problems. The foundation's recommendation will thwart government efforts to reduce the nation's burgeoning obesity rate, because it is well established that eating cheese piles on the calories.

Jan Kendall, Mt Martha

Mandatory reporting

The editorial (21/8) on the Catholic Church's perspective in relation to the sacrament of sealed confession reflects views expressed by numerous readers in recent letters – essentially, that the church is self-serving and out of touch in prioritising its own rules ahead of state laws designed to protect the safety of children.

I do not defend the church's position.

However, I do wonder whether anyone subject to Victoria's existing mandatory reporting laws has ever been prosecuted for having not reported a case of child abuse – I suspect not. I also wonder whether those advocating to extend Victoria's mandatory reporting laws to clergy believe such a law will prevent child abuse by clergy or rather enable clergy who abuse children to be more quickly brought to account – Isuspect the latter. Finally, Iwonder whether those advocating to extend Victoria's mandatory reporting laws to clergy also support increasing the rates of adoptions from out-of-home care. If so, it is arguable that they themselves support an antiquated practice that is both heavy-handed and ineffective in preventing child abuse.

Penny Mackieson, Richmond

Rites of passage

The Bible is quite clear on my right to own slaves. Does the Catholic Church support my religious right to keep slaves, as long as it's on my religiously owned property? And if my religion said it was OK to abuse children in my church, should this be protected? Where is the line between religious rights and human rights? And why do human rights stop at the doors of a church?

Janine Truter, The Basin

Conflicting stance

So VicRoads wants part of the Eastern Freeway to be heritage-listed at the very same time that they are planning to cut down 600-year-old trees of huge cultural heritage and environmental heritage value to widen the Western Highway. They should be embarrassed and ashamed and they should change their plans for the Western Highway to save the trees and and show respect for the Djab Wurrung and for all Victorians.

Graham Phelps, East Geelong

Road to ruin

How can Victoria's First Nations have any faith in the Andrews Government's treaty negotiations when they treat traditional owners such as the Djab Wurrung so flippantly. 'We'll arrest you if you don't shut up' or words to that effect.

After more than two years seeking a mutually acceptable route change for the planned duplication of the Western Highway into a freeway, the Andrews government has told the Djab Wurrung there will be no change to the road route.

The freeway will destroy sacred cultural sites and hundreds of tall eucalypt trees to save a few minutes' driving time between Melbourne and Adelaide. Some of these trees may be 800 years old. They are Djab Wurrung birthing trees and connect culture and language with the natural environment. Once cut down, they cannot be retrieved except in the memories of the old people. It's an appalling situation and needs better understanding by the government.

Ken Lovett, Preston

Hush money, perhaps

It is generally accepted among economists and scientists that the longer you wait to take effective action on climate change the more expensive that action will be. When the Morrison government gave Pacific nations $500million to adapt to climate change I was appalled. Not only did it seem like hush money, so Australia could continue to do nothing, but financially it is just the tip of the iceberg if we continue to do nothing. This year $500million, next year a billion, in a few years $5billion, not to mention the social impact of people having to leave their island nations to come and "pick our fruit". By not treating this as an existential threat the government is being anything but "fiscally responsible". Sadly, it won't be around to observe the havoc its inaction wreaks on our economy, neighbours and planet.

Timothy Phillips, Coburg

It's not a gas

My wife and I are both aged pensioners.We have gas heating, gas hot water and a gas stove. In the past couple of years our yearly gas bill has hit $3000, and rising. According to 7.30, we are being ripped off – gas prices are set by an untouchable cartel and nobody can do a thing about it. Well, Scott Morrison, here's your chance. Do something.

Bill Davis, Ballarat

Missed chance

Is there another religion in Australia that could blatantly advertise its disdain of the legislated law of the land? Our shock jocks are missing an opportunity for outrage.

Peter McGill, Lancefield

Wrong decision

What was the medical staff thinking to let Steve Smith back on to bat in the Lord's Test? The man was clearly not right. For goodness sake, the best batsman in the world didn't play a shot to a ball poised to hit his middle stump and then reviewed it? This was not the action of a man who was in the theatre, much less in the play.

Dave Quinn, Collingwood


Jacinda Ardern returns serve on Alan Jones with Bledisloe Cup sledge (20/8). Ardern – 1. Jones – 0.

Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills


A waste disposal policy is likely to finish up in the same orbit as the energy policy.

Bill Trestrail, St Kilda

The Coalition government has mastered the art of saying what it's going to do, which is in contrast to what it has actually done.

Phil Alexander, Eltham

After years of advising the opposite, the Heart Foundation now encourages full-fat dairy products. Margarine companies have done well out of it.

Lesley Black, Frankston

I support Rolf Maedler's suggestion (21/8). Put glassware and all plastic containers of fruit, vegetables and bakery goods in a reusable bag, and return them to the supermarket from whence they came.

Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

Australia shouldn't have any laws that criminalise the actions of journalists.

Rod Matthews, Fairfield

Australia did not insult the Pacific island nations. It was Scott Morrison.

Stephen Baldwin, Frankston

Donald Trump wants to buy Greenland. China has "leased" Darwin. The US "owns" Pine Gap. Makes a lot of sense?

Arie Vanderkooij. Moonee Ponds

I am relieved for the victims of child sexual abuse and their families that Cardinal Pell's appeal failed.

Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

Brendon Goddard says St Kilda should consider taking Ross Lyon back as coach. Lyon failed one important test when he was last at St Kilda: loyalty.

Brian Morley, Donvale

If he doesn't get a coaching gig, Ross Lyon might consider stand-up comedy.

John Rawson, Mernda


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