AUSTRALIA - Cardinal Pell threatens to sue brave survivor and outspoken advocate

For immediate release Monday, June 1, 2015

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])

We should be grateful, at some level, that the planet’s second most powerful Catholic prelate is threatening legal action against victim of two predator priests.

At least Cardinal George Pell is showing his true colors. He bullied child sex abuse victims years ago. And he’s trying to bully child sex abuse victims now.

Pell issued a statement saying he would consult legal advisers after Pete Saunders, a survivor from the United Kingdom criticized his actions in clergy abuse and cover up cases.

Is this a Christian response? Someone challenges you, so you threaten legal action. That speaks volumes about Pell, but also about the kind of clerics Pope Francis promotes.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this on-going crisis has been the utter lack of attention given to the enormous contradiction between what Catholic officials say in public about abuse and what Catholic officials do in court about abuse. Hardball legal tactics - and threats of such tactics – are painfully common by men who profess to be Christ’s shepherds.

More than two decades ago, in a page one piece, the Wall Street Journal noted this hypocrisy:

The Catholic Church Struggles with Suits over Sexual Abuse

Other journalist have done the same:

Church Threatening Sex Abuse Victims with Court: Solicitor

Diocese Uses Tough Tactics in Sex Suits Facing Steep Liability, Church Plays 'Hardball' with Accusers, Critics Say

'Legal abuse' tactic of Catholic Church decried

As he angrily puffed out his chest, Pell said, through an expert public relations team, that he "has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated." 

It may be worth noting, however, that a papal spokesman did NOT re-enforce this audacious claim to near perfection in dealing with victims, predators and enablers.

According to Vatican Radio, “Fr. Lombardi (said) that Cardinal Pell has always responded carefully and thoroughly to the accusations and questions posed by the Australian authorities.”


Lombardi did NOT try to defend Pell’s abuse and cover up record in Australia.

We don’t blame Lombardi.

Finally, we commend Pete Saunders for his courage. Other members of the church hierarchy – both ordained and lay people – should find the strength to speak their minds about this continuing scandal.


(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is


Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790,[email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, [email protected])

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