Why Is The Abuse So Common?


                                  Comments.  Considerations.  Questions.



                                          by Kenneth Bagnell


    Years ago, Norman Cousins said something that applies to one of the most painful tragedies of our era: “Death is not the greatest loss in life… The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live…” It came to me a day or so after I read, as you probably did, that the right hand advisor of Pope Francis, Cardinal George Pell, will be tried for pedophilia – sexual abuse of boys by men. I’d be surprised if the current Pope’s spirit is not truly bruised now that he’s heard that his close  friend and secondary colleague is up on “multiple charges” in respect of dreadful sexual offenses. It’s about as shocking and depressing as it gets when it’s your right hand man.

      The abuse apparently, if accurately stated, took place in Australia, the cardinal’s home base, where, as you know, the sexual abuse issue claimed – get ready  – well over 4,000 past incidents of priestly abuse.  In fairness, we acknowledge that the Cardinal has strongly denied the accusation, to which he will face in court, on or around July 18 in Melbourne, where numerous and painful allegations will be dealt with. He is no junior; in fact he oversees the entire financial sector of The Vatican, and the closest colleague of the current Pope, a situation which must be a dreadful situation for the Pope Francis who has plenty other sensitive and stressful issues on his papacy plate.

         How come this massive and dreadful occurrence has taken place in Australia? Why should such an enormous number of such incidents be handled by their courts?  Sad to say, so far as is known, virtually all of the accused, were priests. (Between 1950 and 2010, just over 4,440 incidents were reported in most archdioceses: Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, and several other cities or counties. While, as far as is known, the priests charged were clergy (as far as we’ve been told) so that’s that. The charge against Pell himself (the former Archbishop of Melbourne prior to his 2014 Vatican posting) – is a bit bizarre since he himself, spent a lot of time overseeing investigation over the early sexual abuse claims. Now he’s to be on the mat.

         According to recent Australian media reportage, Archbishop Pell was unable in 2015, to fly from Rome to Australia, since his health was uncertain, hence he agreed to testify to a degree on the inquiry by video link. According to the Australian news at that time, the police had already quietly researched the possibility that he’d perpetrated what they later called, “multiple offences.” This was, at first, dismissed, but overtime, according to The Guardian, Pell became an ominous possibility. As The Guardian put it recently: “As no charges against him had been laid and because the commission does not have prosecutor powers, he was not questioned about the abuse allegations relating to him.”

    It will now be a terribly tense period as Cardinal Pell prepares himself for the courtroom.  Despite the stern case being built against him, he still emphatically denies what’s been alleged. In fact, he is going before the same inquiry which over many months was known in Australia as a Royal Commission Inquiry into Historical Child Sexual Abuse. He – a man in the highest office next to the Pope – continues to deny the slightest wrongdoing. What awaits him, given his role, is virtually awesome. It recalls, at least for me, a grim insight I’ll always remember from my years in university, back in the 1950s. It’s an observation from Sophocles:  “How dreadful the truth can be when there’s no help in the truth.” Indeed.  






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