The Sovereign Voice ITNJ Commemorative Issue - Page 78

SILENCE FROM THE VATICAN Article by Connie Broussard Cardinal George Pell of Australia is the highest- archbishop by a government-authorized investigation ranking Vatican official (the Vatican’s Treasurer, into how the Catholic Church and other institutions hand-picked by Pope Francis) to stand trial on have responded to allegations of the sexual abuse of multiple charges that he sexually abused minors children. in his care dating back to the 1970s. A report issued in late 2017 by Australia’s Royal Pell was officially charged in 2017, and in May of Commission into Institutional Responses to Child 2018 appeared in court before Melbourne Magistrate Sexual Abuse revealed that in Australia, 7% of Belinda Wallington, at which time he pleaded not Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing guilty to alleged historic sexual abuse. These alleged children over the past several decades. Cardinal Pell offenses occurred from the 1970s to the 1990s, starting admitted in testimony to that commission that he had in the Melbourne area where he was a priest, and later, made mistakes by believing priests rather than those after he became the archbishop. who had said they were abused. He testified then via a video-link from the Vatican and vowed to help end THE SECOND BIGGEST STORY HERE IS the rash of suicides that has afflicted abuse victims and THE VATICAN’S SILENCE AS ONE OF ITS their families in his hometown of Ballarat. OWN FACES TRIAL FOR SEXUAL ABUSE Pell has been on a leave of absence from his high-level The fact that the Holy See has not come forward Vatican post and has returned to Australia to fight with protest that a prince of the church will stand the criminal charges filed against him. His committal trial before a civil magistrate is historically unheard hearing is believed to have been one of the longest of. It could very well be the turning point in the ever in the Australian state of Victoria, of which the long chronicle of compelling accountability by first 10 days were heard in closed-session as Pell’s church leaders. This silence comes at the same time accusers were questioned. Pope Francis issued a personal apology for his own mishandling of clergy sex abuse allegations in Chile. Not much more is known about the charges against Such a statement is not only unprecedented, but would Pell as lawyers for both the prosecution and the have been unthinkable in an earlier era of the Catholic defense have been barred from sharing any details, Church’s history. Pope Francis admitted, ‘grave error’ however, reports suggest that the most serious matters in his judgment, adding: “I confess this caused me relate to two accusers. One says the alleged sexual pain and shame.” He also invited the victims to come abuse took place in a Ballarat cinema in the 1970s before him in Rome so he may beg their forgiveness. when Pell was a priest, and the second victim alleges he was sexually assaulted at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Australia’s most senior Catholic figure, Pell, in recent Cathedral in the 1990s, at which point Pell was the years has come under scrutiny for his actions as Archbishop of Melbourne. page 76