Cardinal Pell was Aware of Abuse Says Royal Commission
According to reports from Australia’s royal commission into child sexual abuse, what has been suspected by many has been confirmed to be true – Australia’s highest ranking Catholic official was aware of cases of sexual abuse happening within the country and took no action to stop the crimes from occurring. This is yet another disturbing example of the Australian church’s inability to take action to protect children and we hope it will lead to immediate and drastic change.
It comes as no surprise to us that Cardinal Pell had knowledge of cases of child sexual abuse and did nothing to intervene. This echoes similar findings across the world that high-ranking Catholic prelates took action to prevent the public from finding out about abuse, but were woefully inept when it came to actually stopping abuse form occurring. Whether the prelate’s name was McCarrick, Barbarin, or Pell, this inaction is a worldwide issue within the Catholic Church.
This finding coming on the heels of Cardinal Pell’s escape from a conviction of child sexual abuse is discouraging to hear. To us, the Royal Commission’s findings speak to systemic issues within the Australian Catholic Church, but the recent acquittal of the Cardinal on his own charges appears to us to demonstrate an impediment to change due to a continued deference to church leaders. This must change.
We hope that these findings will invigorate parishioners and the public in Australia to demand change in their institutions, and we hope that they will continue to report cases of sexual abuse to law enforcement professionals instead of church leaders. The Catholic Church cannot be trusted to protect children over its own clergy, so parents and parishioners must be vigilant and ready to take this task upon themselves.
(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; our Australia website is SNAPAustralia.org)