Gag Order Lifted: Cardinal George Pell Convicted of Abusing Children, SNAP Responds

In December, one of the world's most powerful Catholic officials was found guilty on multiple charges of abusing children in the 1990s. Today, people around the world are better able to learn about this because of this lifting of a gag order.

One of Pope Francis' top aides, Cardinal George Pell of Australia, was been unanimously convicted on child sex charges in December 2018. To date, Cardinal Pell is the highest-ranking church official to ever go on trial for sex crime charges.

We hope that his conviction will not only bring healing to his victims in Australia but hope to survivors across the world who are yearning for accountability at the top levels of the church. We believe today’s conviction will make Australian children safer and parents and parishioners better informed about how to prevent sexual abuse,

Yet the world was delayed in learning about this case due to a gag order imposed on the case which prevents the publication of details – including Cardinal Pell’s name and the charges against him. We are glad that this order of secrecy has been lifted so that  Australian survivors – whether of Cardinal Pell or any other church official – are encouraged to come forward and make a report.

There are two lessons here. First, police and prosecutors are doing what popes and prelates are NOT doing - exposing child molesting clerics. Second, kids can be protected from even powerful and politically connected predators if survivors are smart and brave enough to trust law enforcement.

Thousands of victims have thought "My perpetrator is so shrewd and popular and convincing. I won't stand a chance if I speak up." We hope Pell's conviction will urge them to re-consider their silence and come forward to independent law enforcement officials today.

CONTACT: Steven Spaner, SNAP Australia Coordinator (snapspaner@gmail.com, +1 636.433.2511),  Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, +1-517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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  • Lorraine Shelley
    commented 2019-02-28 12:42:48 -0600
    This is wonderful news to see Pell finally get what he deserves. I too am "yearning for accountability at the top levels of the church’ – in fact at the very top. Pell was apparently the 3rd most senior member of the vatican – go up a couple more notches and we’ll be at the right place.
  • John
    commented 2019-02-26 21:23:03 -0600
    Let the Domino effect begin… Wooho! The Catholic Church response was that they are “shocked!”, or in shock that a Cardinal would get 50 year prison sentence. Why are they not “shocked” that a cardinal, a priest raped and abused children? The Cardinal sin? No three Hail Mary’s and two Our Father’s for you. Do not pass go and collect $200.00 but please go straight to jail. Amen amen amen allelujah!

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