Australia--Victims respond to Cardinal Pell’s abuse denial
For immediate release: Monday, February 22
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, national president member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)
The third highest ranking Catholic official on earth is accused of molesting five to ten boys.
From the Daily Mail: “As police consider travelling to Rome to question Cardinal George Pell over the child sex abuse allegations, Australia's top Catholic has been seen strolling along the streets in the early spring sunshine.
From the Herald Sun: The allegations “are being taken seriously enough by police to justify a year-long investigation.”
From the Telegraph: “A source close to the investigation told the newspaper: ‘They are very serious allegations regarding sexual assault.’”
Pell questions the timing of this news. We’re not sympathetic. What matters most is the truth, not the timing.
Pell claims these “leaks” are “clearly designed to do maximum damage to the cardinal and the Catholic Church.” This is silly. If Pell doesn’t know who made the “leak,” he certainly can’t know their motives. And he’s an individual. The church is an institution. A criminal investigation into a person isn’t necessarily “designed to do maximum damage” to that person’s employer.
Pell claims the recent disclosure also “undermines the work of the Royal Commission."
Again, that’s silly. The more information that surfaces about clergy sex crimes and cover ups, the better.
We might be more sympathetic to Pell’s concerns had not Catholic officials so relentlessly and often so viciously attacked the motives and timing of thousands who reported and exposed heinous child sex crimes and cover ups.
We have urged Francis to suspend Pell. Today, we repeat this plea. That’s the only responsible course of action here. Remember: He faces at least five accusers. Those accusers have talked with police. Apparently, the police have not deemed all of them crazy or lying.
Some might ask “With his position and this publicity, won’t Pell be extremely unlikely to abuse someone now?” Our response: Why take more risks, especially with kids’ safety? We’ve all seen criminals do desperate, destructive and self-destructive things when they feel desperate.
Some might say “Most of the allegations date back some years.” Our response: “One allegation is from 2001. And there’s no magic age at which abusers are suddenly “cured.”
So for the safety of kids, we again urge Francis to suspend Pell. And we urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups by Pell to call police, especially in Victoria.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)