Pope Must Punish Pell's Defenders

Despite his conviction for abusing two young boys, many in Australia are rallying around Cardinal George Pell as he awaits sentencing.

We urge Pope Francis to encourage his flock to stop publicly rallying around Pell. This kind of callousness only guarantees that other victims of horrific sexual violence will stay silent instead of coming forward, which enables child molesters to hurt more kids.

It's heartbreaking to see prominent people publicly rallying around one of the world's most powerful Catholic figures, despite a guilty verdict, because we know what it leads to: more kids being vulnerable and more victims being depressed.

Publicly backing a convicted cleric deters victims from reporting criminals. It keeps more victims trapped in hopelessness, which keeps more predators "under the radar" and thus keeps more kids at risk of horrific harm.

We understand that some devout Catholics can't believe Pell is actually guilty. But we all face a stark choice here. We can add to the entrenched and unhealthy culture of secrecy that's still painfully widespread in the church. Or we can instead trust that a jury of Pell's peers have seen the evidence, weight its validity, and ultimately rendered a guilty verdict.

So support Pell if you must. But do so quietly, not in ways that further endanger children and hurt victims. Here are some ways to respond appropriately when your minister has been accused of abuse.

CONTACT: Steven Spaner, SNAP Australia Coordinator ([email protected], +1 636.433.2511),  Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], +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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