Pell Pot

The Church of England - - COMMENT -

Press cov­er­age of Car­di­nal Ge­orge Pell’s ap­point­ment to over­see the Vat­i­can fi­nances has con­cen­trated on his rep­u­ta­tion as a bruiser. In Aus­tralia he is known as a doc­tri­nal con­ser­va­tive but in re­cent years his record on child abuse has come un­der crit­i­cal scru­tiny. Aus­tralian jour­nal­ist, David Marr, pub­lished a par­tic­u­larly damn­ing in­dict­ment of his record in The Prince: Faith, Abuse and Ge­orge Pell, which ap­peared as is­sue 51 of the Quar­terly Record. Pell shared a pres­bytery in Bal­larat with Ge­orge Rids­dale, chap­lain of a pri­mary school where he and four Chris­tian broth­ers were later ex­posed as abus­ing chil­dren. Pell has al­ways de­nied all knowl­edge of what hap­pened. Pell him­self was ac­cused of abuse when he ran a youth camp as a sem­i­nar­ian by a young man called Scott. Pell de­nied the claims. A re­tired judge was called in to in­ves­ti­gate the claims. He came to an un­sat­is­fac­tory ver­dict, say­ing that Scott ‘gave the im­pres­sion he was speak­ing hon­estly from ac­tual rec­ol­lec­tion’ but in the end came to the con­clu­sion he was ‘not sat­is­fied’ the com­plaint was es­tab­lished. Both sides claimed vic­tory but the out­come was not a de­ci­sive vin­di­ca­tion of Pell. Al­though he has an Ox­ford DPhil Pell is no the­olo­gian but Marr de­scribes him as a born ad­min­is­tra­tor, a skilled em­pire builder and some­one who is adept at rais­ing money. He should do well in his new job and he will prob­a­bly be glad to leave Aus­tralia. For all his tal­ents, he didn’t win over the Aus­tralian bish­ops, who never elected him as pres­i­dent of their con­fer­ence. It is thought that with the Royal Com­mis­sion into sex abuse tak­ing place the bish­ops did not want Pell speak­ing on their be­half. Pell has de­nied all the claims.

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