Some Thoughts on George Pell

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Some Thoughts on George Pell

27 February 2019 Hits:4880

Despite the media suppression order, many of us were well aware that George Pell was found guilty on December 11th last year in a unanimous Jury decision. Pell was found guilty on five charges – one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four of indecent acts with a child. The abuse happened in the 1990s at St. Patrick’s Cathedral while Pell was Archbishop of Melbourne.

There are others who have come forward to accuse George Pell of abusing them, about whom the general public will never hear. Some victims don’t want to go public for all kinds of reasons. [1] What we know from other cases is that those who do come forward are usually just the tip of the iceberg.

George Pell is due to be sentenced on March 13th, but was taken into custody yesterday (February 27th). The offenses carry a maximum jail term of ten years. George Pell maintains his innocence and his legal team has indicated that he will appeal the conviction.

One of the boys Pell abused was just 13 at the time. The following year he turned to drug use and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. Sadly, this young man died from a heroin overdose when he was 30. There are tens of thousands of stories like this from children and adults who have been abused by priests, ministers, teachers, and others in positions of authority for decades in many nations.

Response to Andrew Bolt

Journalist Andrew Bolt has spoken out against Pell’s conviction stating that one of Pell’s abuse victims, now dead after a heroin overdose, denied being abused by a priest when asked by his mother. Bolt also said the other victim who gave evidence in court did not speak about the incident for many years. [2] What Andrew needs to understand is that the vast majority of abuse victims NEVER come forward. The number one reason for this is the shame they feel as a result of their experience. Only one in seven female adults who were victims of sexual abuse report the abuse. It is even lower for men. Only one in ten children report sexual abuse while they are children. The recent Royal Commission found that it took on average 23 years to report child sexual abuse, and longer again for men who take an average of 27 years.

What about the victims?

I’ve closely followed the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse and, like most people, I’ve been horrified by what I’ve heard. In past decades we were just unaware of the extent of the harm (sexual or otherwise) perpetrated in our schools, churches, orphanages and other institutions. I am so glad these things have now been brought into the light, and many of the abusers have been found guilty and justly punished.

My heart goes out to those who have suffered abuse at the hands of those who should have been their protectors. I cannot imagine the fear faced by young children knowing they were powerless to stay safe from adults who abused them or from others who would just not listen to their cries for help.

It’s alright to be angry

I understand the anger felt by the victims and their families. I am angry too, and so is God. The Bible continually calls upon those who follow Jesus to defend the widows and orphans, the children and the marginalised. Those who say they follow Jesus and yet use their power to abuse the powerless will ultimately suffer severe judgement. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans. Now, what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help?” [3]

Jesus put it this way, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” [4]

If you’re angry with God or the church or both, I encourage you to express it in healthy ways. God is not put off by your resentment; in fact, some of the Bible’s authors strongly verbalise their anger and questions to God ~ why have you allowed this to happen to me? Where were you when I was suffering? How long are you going to wait until you help me? Why are you permitting others to hurt me? Read the Psalms, and you’ll find many of these questions and accusations from the writers, and God seems quite comfortable with people expressing themselves to him in this way. I urge you to process your feelings with God and grow closer to him as a result.

Other Considerations

Another thing that’s worth considering is that the presence of a counterfeit means that the genuine article must also exist. No one would make a counterfeit $7 note because there’s no such thing. The presence of phony and abusive priests and ministers, as tragic as that is, also points to the fact that most men and woman in these positions are not fake, they’re the real deal.

I encourage you to look for a church community that is safe, one that has proper processes and policies in place to protect all people, especially children and the vulnerable. While no church is perfect, it is possible to find a community of believers where you can grow in your faith and contribute to making the world a better place. It’s also in a community that you can find a measure of healing as well as the strength to live beyond what has happened in your past.

And if you have offended by sexually abused children (or adults) I encourage you to come forward, not only to receive justice but also to get help. The abuser has invariably been abused and there is support available.

If you are struggling, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the LightFM Careline on 9583 2273.

 

 

[1] Most victims of abuse do not make themselves known. Some have already dealt with the effects of abuse on their own; others don’t want to drag all the painful memories up again. Some don’t want their identity known or don’t want to go to court. Other victims think they are the only ones who experienced abuse, and it’s not until someone else comes forward that they realise they’re not the only one. That is why we often see others claim to be victims of abuse once one person has told their story. Then there’s the very real effect of Stockholm Syndrome, where the victim develops feelings of trust or affection towards a captor.

[2] https://www.news.com.au/national/andrew-bolt-says-cardinal-george-pell-was-fasely-convicted-of-sexually-abusing-two-boys/news-story/093735c7e28d42350460f05d0aca7b00

[3] Isaiah 10:1-3

[4] Matthew 18:6

 

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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12 replies on “Some Thoughts on George Pell”

Sue Staceysays:

Rob you show great empathy towards the victims. It is sad when someone in power abuses there leadership role. I was very encouraged by what you wrote especially about finding the right Church. We have been hurt and let down badly by our Church even after 7 yearshas passed there are days when so many emotions run through me and I still struggle with the great loss I feel within Church life. Bless you Pastor Rob for this blog you have written.

Jenny Cadesays:

Whilst not a deeply religious person I found this blog excellent & well balanced.
Maybe Pell maintains his ‘not guilty’ stance on the basis of one of the priests exposed in the film Spotlight who stated ‘I am not guilty as I did not receive any sexual gratification’
To have Pell’s barrister trivialise the charges is a crime in itself😡😡😡😡

A Pastor's Thoughts on George Pell's Sexual Assault Conviction | My Christian Dailysays:

[…] general public will never hear. Some victims don’t want to go public for all kinds of reasons. [1] What we know from other cases is that those who do come forward are usually just the tip of the […]

Mark MacSweeneysays:

As a victim a clergy abuse I have struggled with it all my life and I ask god all the time to help me. I don’t go to church yet I do have a huge faith in god. I understand god gives us free will , so I do not blame him for what happened. The only reason I came out about it was that I had a drinking problem among other things and I accidentally slipped when I was drunk with my dad. We were drinking in a pub and a clergy was on tv getting arrested and I looked up and said to myself “that happened to me” my dad over heard me say it. I had just gone home after not seeing my parents for several years as I had overdosed on heroin and needed to change my ways. I cry just writing this as the pain is still very much there. After going to the police I was by myself , no one else had come forward about this clergy or school . The police were so good and understanding that I continued. Since then more victims came out after they saw it on the news and in papers. The school has now had 10 clergy from that school put in jail, mostly around the era I was there.. As a male being introduced to sex by another male is not something you really want to tell people , I understand fully why some victims don’t come forward and in one way don’t blame them and in another wish they did so they can get rid of the guilt. Andrew bolt has no understanding and that is his right, until it does happen and it effects that person , they never truely understand. Just the way it is.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Mark, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us on this thread. I cannot imagine what you, and other survivors, have faced. Good on you for coming forward.

James Lowndessays:

There are no words to describe Pell dismissing the Foster family will complete disregard.

Mark Barrysays:

Well done a very well balanced article only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins & only He by the power of the Holy Spirit & if needed Godly wise counsel can total healing take place, without it the abused are haunted & tormented by it for the rest of their lives, for the Devil seeks to steal , kill & destroy , but with Jesus there is healing. Come to Jesus & he will turn your sorrows into joy.

Karen Macaulaysays:

Thank you for your article. I recently did some professional training at CASA House (Centre Against Sexual Assault). One of the elements I picked up on was the language to use when referring to people who have been abused. CASA refer to people as ‘Victim Survivors’. I am drawn to this term as it is respectful and redirects my mind towards a nartitive of hope and healing.

Seethasays:

I feel very sadened for the victims who live day to day looking at this monster who preyed on vanuerable children. Until it happens to you, one never knows how It’s like living day to day. Most predetors never put their hand up and say yes, I have done that, and it makes me very angry 😡 I always believe what goes around comes around.

Paulsays:

As a former catholic, it’s now so clear that the Roman Catholic tradition is more concerned with its own hierarchy and power and protecting its own. The ladder if you like, that is climbed, which ultimately leads to the supposed supreme position of the pope, who many Catholics worship as someone that can be seen and heard by man as opposed to worshiping the One who cannot be seen or heard by man, Jesus. The catholic belief in papal infallibility sums up everything that is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church. Wikipedia states “papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the pope is preserved from the possibility of error “when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church”

Well, where was the upholding of the morals held by the whole Catholic church? As we have now seen with respect to George Pell’s conviction, the pope certainly did fail. He, as an imperfect mortal, an imperfect sinner far from the perfection of Christ, failed the innocent children who were abused by his very clergy. Innocent children abused by people within his hierarchy, his subordinates. Perhaps the pope was too preoccupied with his own infallibility to hear the cries of the little ones, the little ones who Jesus spoke of when He said
“If anyone causes one of these little ones, those who believe in me, to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the sea”
This very notion of papal infallibility sums up all that is not Christ-like about the Catholic Church. Please now stop and look at the ugly beast that you have become, and start by repenting and giving away all of the privilege, the ornate robes, the ornate headpieces, the elaborate gold embellished chalices, tabernacles, alters, alter chairs that are akin to kings’ thrones, and give away the gold and silver crosiers, the incense burners and the gold and silver tabernacles. The very pitfall of the Catholic faith by their ritualistic following of elaborate traditions is that they become preoccupied with upholding these meaningless traditions and totally lose sight of the Saviour and His Word.

Trevorsays:

Rob, I found this blog a little unbalanced. You need to remember that George Pell strongly maintains his innocence and has an appeal lodged which will be heard, I think, in June. If the appeal court dismisses these convictions you will need to change some of what you have said here. Andrew Bolt, by the way, (and he was not alone in this) questioned the fact that Pell could be convicted on the accusation/testimony of one person, with no evidence. The fact that this could happen means that you, or anyone else, could be convicted on the accusation of one person, no matter how strongly you deny it. That’s a scary scenario Rob, That’s heading towards the ‘denunciations’ so prevalent in totalitarian societies. George Pell also received character references from some of Australia’s leading figures. Let’s wait till after the appeal is heard shall we, before making definitive statements bout Pell’s guilt.

Richard Mullinssays:

Massive stitchup.
Richard Mullins portal1943@gmail.com

I had thought that 1984 could be summarised as “everything we are telling you is lies” which I think is a fair description of the prosecution case against Pell. I had not known
that the book gives a template for running the Pell show trial. To quote Colin Jory, ” Respected persons would be put on public trial for “crimes” which everyone knew they could not conceivably have committed, but all had to howl for their blood from the realisation that if they didn’t they’d be the next to be tried. It was essential that the charges be incontestably false, irrational and nonsensical”.

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