WE NEVER THOUGHT THIS DAY WOULD COME, SAY SEX VICTIMS
ACCUSERS of Cardinal George Pell, and victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, have praised the decision to lay criminal charges against him.
A lawyer for two men who have made abuse allegations against Cardinal Pell said they were “over the moon”.
Lawyer Ingrid Irwin said she had warned the men that the ultimate verdict was uncertain.
“Naturally anybody with any knowledge of how the criminal process works, particularly of historical sexual abuse cases, knows (this),” she said.
“It’s been very difficult for them to stick their neck out,” Ms Irwin said of the two men.
“To come out against someone who is second to God, in some people’s minds, has caused all sorts of problems for them.”
Victims of abuse have praised the decision to lay charges as “probably the most significant action to be taken on behalf of survivors of clergy sexual abuse in the history of the church.”
Clergy sexual abuse survivor Andrew Collins, 46, said news of the charges was something he never thought he would hear.
“We didn’t think this day would ever come,” he said.
Mr Collins, who was abused by four men at Ballarat schools and churches during his teenage years, said the announcement was a step toward healing.
“Cardinal Pell … is one of the most powerful men on the Earth,” Mr Collins said.
“The fact that someone like (Pell) can be charged is such an encouraging sign.
“George Pell is an icon in Ballarat. For a local boy to go so far … it’s very sad that’s he’s in this position now, and if he’s found guilty it will be very sad for a lot of people,” he said. Mr Collins spoke to the
Herald Sun at the unveiling, at Ballarat’s Town Hall, of a portrait of Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson.
Det Sgt Carson was honoured for his work in the Ballarat Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Investigation Team, including investigations of notorious paedophile Christian Brother Robert Charles Best.
Steven Spanner, a spokesman for survivor group SNAP Australia, also welcomed yesterday’s laying of charges against Cardinal Pell.
“The history of the Catholic Church has been to squelch accusations, hide and shield perpetrators, stonewall inquisitors, and reabuse victims with ostracism, isolation and counteraccusations,” he said.
“SNAP is so proud that (Victorian police) have shown the world that no one is above nor beyond the law,” Mr Spanner said.
Catholic priests cross St Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterday on a day of high drama for the Catholic Church centred around Cardinal Pell, pictured there this week (right).