Today the Pope is promoting Cardinal George Pell to the Congregation for Bishops, a powerful international body within the church. We believe this promotion is hurtful to victims.
Victims in Pell’s diocese of Sydney have reported that the process there for reporting abuse, known as Towards Healing, is more of a smoke-screen for the diocese than a way to help victims. Some have charged Towards Healing as actively lobbying to prevent victims from getting legal representation. According to an article in the Canberra Times, 95% of Australian victims have described the system as “abusive, highly adversarial, legalistic and traumatic.”
We think that by promoting such a Cardinal as Pell who has been this antagonistic to victims is indicative of the fact that, despite lengthy statements and calls by the Pope to “bind up the wounds” of clergy abuse victims, actual church policy is to sweep claims under the rug and avoid embarrassment. When church officials are rewarded for doing more to hinder abuse claims than to actual heal them, we find it hard to imagine that the Vatican is serious about healing, and is more concerned about damage control and avoiding scandal.