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THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE POWER OF THE STATE – WHAT CARDINAL PELL’S CONVICTION MEANS FOR THE FUTURE.

OpinionThe Catholic Church and the power of the State: What Cardinal Pell’s conviction means for the future

Massimo Faggiol
Crux Wed 27 Feb 2019

920x920

The conviction of George Pell is a calamitous event for the Catholic Church ― not just in Australia, but globally. It is the first time a cardinal has been found guilty of sexual abuse against minors by a secular tribunal.

The guilty verdict made public on 26 February 2019 against Cardinal George Pell represents a first in the history of the Catholic Church in its dealings with the modern state: a cardinal, one of the few members of the Church with the right to vote for the pope, has been convicted of sexual abuse against minors by a secular tribunal. This is a very different case from that of Theodore McCarrick, whose defrocking was announced by the Vatican just a few days ago, on 16 February. McCarrick, who was expelled from the college of cardinals by Pope Francis in July 2018, was found guilty by a canonical trial at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican, and never had to face secular justice.
The conviction of Cardinal Pell is a calamitous event for the Catholic Church, not just in Australia, but globally, and it must be placed in context.
Since late 2017, the Church has entered a new phase in its dealing with the consequences of the sexual abuse by clergy: it is an annus horribilisthat refuses to end. What inaugurated this new phase were the waves of revelations in various countries which effectively called into question the personal responsibility and decisions of the last three popes ― John Paul II and Benedict XVI with respect to McCarrick, Francis in Chile. Australia is playing a particularly important role in this new phase, beginning with the final reportof the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in December 2017 and the response of the Australian Catholic Church (bishops and religious orders) to the recommendations of the Royal Commission in December 2018.
Few figures loom as large in this new phase ― given the central role Australia plays within it ― than Cardinal George Pell, who was chosen by Pope Francis to lead the newly created Vatican Secretariat for the Economy and whom Francis permitted (or indeed, asked) to return to Australia in June 2017 to face trial before a secular court. It is also important to remember, in this respect, the case of former Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson who was convicted by a secular court in July 2018, but then acquitted on appeal in December 2018. Pope Francis had, however, already accepted Wilson’s resignation immediately after his conviction, and after the then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia made public statements about the need for Pope Francis to “sack” Archbishop Wilson.
The cases of both Archbishop Wilson and Cardinal Pell have thrust the Church into uncharted territory: we are witnessing the way that clerical sexual abuse is redefining the relationship between Church and State, between the justice of the Church and the justice of the State. The very notion of some established separation between, or of juridically discrete spheres belonging to, Church and State is being tested to its core by the sexual abuse crisis. Quite simply, “Church and State” no longer means what it used to mean.
And both Church and State are repositioning themselves in response to this crisis. With the pontificate of Francis, there is no question that the institutional Catholic Church no longer fights against secular justice or shields alleged criminals from prosecution by the civil authorities. The Church actually welcomessecular justice, knowing now that without the intervention of public prosecutors many cases of sexual abuse in the Church would have never been addressed, investigated and punished. The Catholic Church is now totally on the defensive ― locally and globally; in Australia and in the Vatican; in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion. And it is on the defensive because of an uncovered history of the indefensible practices of covering up abusers, re-victimising victims, vilifying the media investigating the cases and shielding top clerics from justice ― sometimes by shipping them to the Vatican (beginning with the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, in 2004).
The point worth emphasising here is that the Catholic Church is now structurally, even if not explicitly, reliant on the verdicts of the secular courts to make determinations about the firing (and the hiring) of its cardinals and bishops. This is why any talk of “zero tolerance” for abusers in the Church ― in the Church’s ministries as well as among the Catholic clergy as ordained members ― becomes meaningless if it does not consider who determines if a member of the Church is a sexual abuser. The fact is that the fight against sexual abuse in the Church is, to a large extent, only as good as the rule of law in a given country or state.
This gives rise to an immensely complicated situation, because we live in an “age of anger” in which it is apparent that the highest court is now public opinion ― but public opinion which is now no longer informed exclusively by mainstream media. This new court of public opinion, where both the institutional Church and mainstream media have less influence than they may once have had, is increasingly presided over by social media. It is, frankly, impossible to understand the current wave of the clerical sexual abuse crisis without adequate consideration of the role played by social media in the psychology of collective indignation. In a social media saturated age, the old juridical dictum in dubio, pro reo(“when in doubt, for the accused”) no longer applies, no matter what the written law says ― especially when it is clergy accused of sexual abuse who are on trial.
It is, moreover, impossible to understand the significance of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis without looking to the further horizon of bilateral relations between Church and State. For if there is one globalised power that the secular nation-state today can wage war against, it’s the Catholic Church: the assertiveness of the secular courts against Catholic clergy ― an assertiveness welcomed by most Catholics, who have grown frustrated with the inaction of the Church on this issue ― could give ideas to nationalist politicians with an interest in silencing dissenting voices in the Church. This could happen especially in countries where the rule of law and the freedom of the press are weaker than they are in established democracies.
But it is also impossible to understand the significance of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis without recognising that there is no possible separation between Church and State when a secular court tries a high-profile cleric like a cardinal. The higher the ecclesiastical rank of the accused, the more likely it is that other factors ― prejudicial opinions held by the press, by jurors, by judges, police and politicians ― will influence the verdict and its reception. This is destined to split the Catholic Church at the local and global levels in new and unforeseen ways.
Cardinal Robert Bellarmin wrote four centuries ago about the legitimate influence of the Church over the State; he said that the Church wielded a potestas indirecta in temporalibus (“indirect power in secular affairs”). Now the situation is in some sense reversed: the State possesses a new kind of potestas indirecta in ecclesiasticis(“indirect power in ecclesiastical affairs”). This could have seismic consequences for the future of the institutional Church and the next generation of its leaders. Just consider the effect that the clerical abuse crisis will have on the next papal conclave. It is no longer a question of whether, but simply of what and to what extent

Massimo Faggioli is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University and Conjoint Professor at BBI―The Australian Institute of Theological Education in Sydney. He is the author of Catholicism and Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Century, A Council for the Global Church, Receiving Vatican II in History and John XXIII: The Medicine of Mercy.

THE VATICAN IS A ROGUE STATE AND SHOULD BE EXCLUDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

Because of the widespread sexual criminality and total corruption of the RC church, Italy should now annul the1929 concordat with the Vatican and take the territory back into Italy where the Vatican criminals can be prosecuted under Italian, European and International law.

There are good grounds, I believe, to arraign Pope Francis, certain cardinals, bishops and curia members at the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

They have committed crimes against humanity and children.

I congratulate Australia for leading the charge against RC criminality.

Pell sould only be the first in a long line of clerical criminals to be brought before the criminal courts.

Countries should expel papal nuncios and papal representatives.

The vatican observer to the UN should be returned to Rome.

Papal visits should not be allowed by national governments.

The Vatican and the RC church sould have the status of golf or tennis clubs.

This medieval kingdom should be outlawed and ostracised.

In another way they are as dangeroys as Isis.

They are spiritual terrorists and child torturers.

59 replies on “THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE POWER OF THE STATE – WHAT CARDINAL PELL’S CONVICTION MEANS FOR THE FUTURE.”

“Cardinal George Pell, who was chosen by Pope Francis to lead the newly created Vatican Secretariat for the Economy… ”
HUH! I still believe Pell, in collusion with the Vatican, tried to do a Bernie Law and, in part succeed, by refusing to return to report to the Royal Commission… the old bastard must have thought he was high and dry.

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Hi up ya boy ya Vatican is a throwback to centuries ago. The Pope could operate like the Queen She still has her status but the government calls the shots hi. There is no need for embassies and all that poopopalloo The Church of God is the Embassy A citizen should be subject to the law of the land not toy land. Pope doesn’t need to be emperor to maintain papal authority. Money spent on embassies and haftershave could be far better used hi

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Hello, hi fly; fly, I think ye might be onto sometin hi. Fly, tell me tis and tell me more, but is the vaticana a victim of
its own successes fly? Are they a wee bit trapped by th past like havin too strain their necks lookin over their shoalders? Do they use a lot of haftershave fly? Poopopalloos a new one on me fly but I’m not buyin it!
I’m out for som el dopa fly. A few puffs sees me throu th day with daddy G. Bye hi.🌱

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Success or failure I don’t know hi. Maybe tis like lord of the flies. Born out of necessity but evolved into a dangerous sub culture but. Tis that time again Where’s me pills woman.

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10:29pm
Hello hi fly, fly, I think ye hit th hammer on the nail, a subculture that’s lost the run of itself fly.
Did ‘herself’ find the pills for youse ? I have a dickey ticker meself but d’ trinity of puffs of el dopa calms.
Bye hi! 😉

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Yes, the Romanists have had their day (centuries, for crying out loud!).
Now it is payback time for these Christ-betrayers.😆

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12:57

Yes, the article was interesting, but also revealing about Pell, not in the way the author deduced, but entirely in the opposite anthropological direction. Pell believes that no human is capable of a morally selfless act; in other words, ‘human altruism’ (philantropism, etc) is a myth, and a waste of time, since such apparent acts make the ‘doer’ feel good about himself or herself, and therefore self (rather than other) conscious.

Setting aside for the moment the fact that one or both creation accounts in Genesis state that what God had created he saw as good (and therefore must have made him feel quite pleased about it), human conduct is capable, certainly in extreme moments, of being absolutely non self-reflexive. What’s an example? In a moment of extreme danger, a person, driven not by feeljngs of self-satisfaction or self-publicity, but by compassionate horror, runs into the road to save a child from an oncoming vehicle. This is a moment of raw, unadulterated human goodness, which the likes of Pell, and their morally fatalistic view of humanity, would not recognise. This intrinsic capability for moral selflessness is, I believe, the reason God incarnate could seek to redeem humankind, but not the fallen angels, since their rebelliousness was entirely wilful, absolute and, therefore, irreversible.

I said on a previous blog that Pell had either psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies, as might anyone who holds such a morally desensitised view of human nature.

Pell could sexually assualt those two little boys in Melbourne cathedral (and, I believe, others as well), because he saw in them nothing but propensity for endless sinning and, therefore, moral unworthiness.

It is why he allowed his barrister, Richter, to make that truly shocking remark about ‘vanilla sex’ in a pathetic attemt to bargain over sentencing.

Pell is an extremely dangerous paedophile.

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If the international and civil authorities “de-stated” the RC church they would help the church to return towards Jesus’ model of humbleness, powerless etc.

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Pat at 10.32: Look up the meaning of “humility”: then look in the mirror. What do you see? Not a smidgen of Jesus-like qualities. None. Zero. Your rant is that of a madman.

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11.02: Jesus wasn’t a rambo style machismo, nor did he act like a despotic, raving lunatic inciting hatred of people, even in their sinfulness and wrongdoing.

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6.13: Thankfully God is our ultimate judge not the extremist, tyrannical and contemptible judgments made by Pa t and ithers. Of course all who have abused others, especially children, young people and vulnerable people should face the justice of civil law. That’s indisputable. Are we therefore to sledge hammer an individual into the ground because of our outrage? Yes, we can and should express our anger, disgust and outrage and seek justice for the victims and survivors but let the civil law adjudicate on the violence of the perpetrator. Pell is experiencing an ignominious end to his life. That and the court sentencing is judgment enough. Let us look beyond our protests and ensure that all who deserve truth, healing, support, care, compensation and justice will be given urgent priority. And the Church must begin a reparation now. I am horrified each time I say mass and when I engage with people I am conscious that I carry out my ministry against a very mistrusting public and against a bleak background, knowing that the bleakness is caused primarily by the institution itself. It is a huge challenge for me.

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‘The fact is that the fight against sexual abuse in the Church is, to a large extent, only as good as the rule of law in a given country or State.’

Why were no bishops in the Irish state jailed following, in particular the Murphy report or any other of the many reports into child sexual abuse? An audit of each diocese would probably highlight more of the same.

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The future of the Church ? Well, with a bit of luck it will not be the same as the Church of the recent past.
I think that it is generally agreed that the underlying facilitating cause of much of the Church’s recent ills, and in particular the abuse crisis, is not because of The Devil, or The Gays, or The Secular World, or any of the rather feeble transference excuses the Church and its leaders have come up. We know that it has to do with something systemic to the Church and its organisation, its hierarchy, and its clericalism. It is this that has allowed the evil of abuse to fester and grow in the Church, in a climate of entitlement, immunity, deceit, and coverup.
The problem is that those who are charged with coming up with a way forward for the future of the Church are precisely those who are most imbued with the clerical and hierarchical mentality that has been at the root of abuse. I believe that it is going to be almost impossible for these men (and old men they are !) to have the vision, capacity and flexibility to deliver a new way forward. They will inevitably stick with what they know best and feel confident about and comfortable in, which is precisely the culture and way of being Church that has got us in to this problem.
So, I am not hopeful that we will be led to a new future. My only solution is to wrest control and influence from these men and hand it over to others – to women, to married people, to families, to anyone who genuinely wants to live a Christian life and cares for the Church. And, I don’t mean the orthodox, traditionalist, reductionist nutters who want to purify the Church to a few elect who live a very strange and isolated life from the world. Perhaps we a need a new Church Council, of the Laity, who will decided a way forward for the Church ?

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Well said. All organisations need checks and balances to counteract abuse, corruption, self interest etc. That’s just the nature of things. The hierarchy have proved they need outside influences to keep them in check, whether the law or the media or advocacy groups. The laity will have to be on an equal footing with the clergy when it comes to running the church in matters of finance, administration, oversight of clergy. The power will have to be shared. There seems to be no other solution. Priests won’t like being held accountable by lay committees who may be charged with hiring, even firing, but it seems things will go this way if bishops are not prepared to stop turning a blind eye to the abuses which are taking place. The laity are the people who pay the wages. A time may come when the passive laity may finally take matters into their own hands. People have been patient but patience isn’t unlimited. I’m a priest by the way.

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4:11 – Yes. lay oversight of clergy is required. The clergy can’t be trusted to supervise or to oversee themselves. Hiring, firing, appraisal, oversight, accountability. All these things are required, with the laity having a large influence in them all. I have always thought it mad that in our parish we just sit passively by when a new priest is to be appointed. No one consults us, no one asks us what kind of priest we need, we just have to wait until one day, voila, he appears from somewhere we not not and by a process that is by and large the bishop of VG just moving around the pieces to fit their picture. The same goes when a new bishop is to be appointed.
I would not rule out external secular oversight either. Indeed, by and large it has only been because of secular involvement that the whole abuse scandal is beginning to be addressed. Left to the Church we would still be in the culture of denial and coverup, and moving priests around the place where they can act out again. It is salutary to see the likes of + Nichols others brought before IICSA to give an account of themselves. There is no turning back from that now. + Nichols knows that times have changed. I’m not sure he likes it.

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4:11
‘Passive laity’ ! Hyperactive omnicompetent clergy, might be more accurate! How can the laity participate in
‘running the church’ when arrogant members of the clergy and hierarchy ‘know best’. What structures are in
place to facilitate the ‘passive laity’ in ‘running the church’?

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Interesting. Thanks for the link.
Confirms my absolute conviction that Pell is a dangerous paedophile.

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2:57 & 4:41
From a systems theory perspective, the Church is rapidly moving from a state of homeostasis to a state of entropy and desperately needs feedback loops, particularly positive feedback loops, from somewhere, anywhere !. The laity aren’t going to be patronized or become tokenistictly used participants, which has gone on to date, with the church’s listening sessions!

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The church is a hierarchical structure with power concentrated at the top. There are power differentials mirrored from the top down the ranks to the lowest form of life in the church, which is? Don’t patronize, please. The laity didn’t create the moral morass the church finds itself in today.

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Biggest revelation by kool kat today, it really did surprise me – “the church is a hierarchical structure”. Well i never.

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6:04
We now know the moral rot goes right up to the third in command, Cardinal Pell, who apparently, according to his legal team had ‘vanilla sex’ with teenage boys. What does that involve? What Cardinal Pells conviction means for the future, God only knows.No new revelation there either. Maybe some of the Omnicompentant clerics will outline the future course the Church must take! It’s full of armchair bishops and papas.

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You idiot. The vanilla comment is a typical, although in this case also counterproductive, legal argument strategy. Not to be taken literally.

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I’ll be brief@ 12:07pm
The ‘vanilla sex’ comment was a counterproductive, legal strategy!
Summary: ‘he didn’t , but if he did, it was only this i.e. vanilla, and not strawberry, rasberry or fudge! (Smart or what?) And some, still consider Cardinal Pell, a potential future Pope?( Denial.)

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Excellent comments so far today: JS, KC, MC, A@4:11. Regardless of whether or to what extent I might agree it is certainly refreshing to see intelligently expressed opinions and less of “the other!”
MMM

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Bishop Pat, before my wife and I get more abuse and vilified after commenting on yesterday’s blog, can we ask just one serious question please? How do we know for sure the Trocaire box money actually gets to the poor? When we see clergy wining and dining, bishops on all expenses paid trips by Trocaire to Africa and such like. Wasn’t Trocaire money used by bishop Casey to travel the world on its behalf? My wife tells me Trocaire have expensive office spaces, highly paid employees and expense accounts. We did not fill any Trocaire box last year nor will we this year. The priest was quick last Sunday to remind us to take a Trocaire box with us. There is so many unanswered questions as to how they properly spend this money entirely on the poor. Time for accountability please. Too much wining and dining by priests.

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You were quite entitled to express all your views.

I know one thing for certain – I would not support Trocaire or any charity connected to the RCC.

All the charities I support are non RC.

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7.40: More of your crazy, blatant gung ho approach. You are nuts. So many charities, including Christian charities have been found guilty of impropriety. THANK GOD FOR TROCAIRE. Despite your propaganda Buckley, you’ll never deter Catholics from supporting worthy Catholic Charities. You are a vicious, nasty piece of humanity. Again, allow yesterday’s gospel to challenge your moral impoverishment.

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7.40. Quelle surprise! Anything or anyone of a Catholic connection is anathema to you Pat. Your only offering is to express hatred. The only charity you give to is “yourself”. Oh, what about the abuse of vulnerable young immigrants for whom you performed sham marriages and which were CRIMES with many victims. All done for personal financial gain as the judge said. You should have been imprisoned. Was that your “charity” in action? Just asking……And you weren’t just getting pennies – but handsome sums of money. Hypocrite.

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Pat at 7.40: When you hate the Catholic Church so much, we wouldn’t expect you to support any Catholic Cause. What’s new? One just wonders why you revel in such hatred. It doesn’t do your face any favours!!!! 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🐱🐱🐱

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6.55: Thus nutty pair are back again. Nisey, interfering busybodies. You should stop goingbto your Catholic Church and join Pat’s oratory. You are a bunch of spent out auld ones with nothing to do except gossip. Obviously you go out all too often as you seem to find priests everywhere you go. Get a life you liars. You have said all this many times before, the only additional extra being the “Trocaire” box. Don’t take one. Simple as. Crackpots.

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6.55: The Newry Happy Couple are back again telling porkies. If you spent as much on charity as you do on the frequency of your nights out dining and wining you would do much to alleviate (help) the starving of this world. You pair of moaning minnies. Priests receive a salary out of which they are entitled to go out for a meal. You don’t get the irony of your moaning about others enjoying a meal while doing the same yourselves. You are nauseatingly hypocritical. Now go and say your night prayers…..

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Who were you and the aul bat spying on today, Mr and Mrs Creep at 6:55pm?
No one is forcing you to take a Trocaire box so why not just not bother? Trocaire will survive.
And why you two nosey aul biddies bother going to Mass is beyond me too! Stay at home. It’ll give yiz more time to gossip and snoop.

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There is much talk and reflection about the absolute need for good, meaningful structural changes required within the Church. I believe we are almost at a stage in this crisis where the survival of the MEMORY of CHRIST (once the mission of this blog!) is now reliant on the people of God. No meaningful renewal will happen unless ALL who profess belief in Jesus will come forward and rightfully own their Christian community, a community that will be characterised by a living out of the Early Church’s way as described in the Acts of the Apostles. It’s clear, uncomplicated and titally ficused on humble service for one another: Living Eucharist by being a sharing, caring, praying, welcoming community, truly rooted in Christ. It is an enormous challenge because a huge swsthe of our population have grown up with a narrative that’s not at all encouraging. We have an enormous task of evangelizing.

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I note that + Nichols recently tried to minimise (or as he would say, put in to perspective) clerical sexual abuse, by saying that sexual abuse happens in all parts of society and the world, and the Church is nothing exceptional. Transference of guilt, minimisation of guilt, is his game when he does that.

However, it is true that sexual abuse exists in other parts of society and the world. Which does not, of course, excuse what has been allowed to happen and facilitated by the failures of our clerical hierarchy. Over on this side of the Irish Sea, IICSA is currently about to embark on a Westminster strand of its investigations – as in Parliament and political figures, not the Archdiocese. This will look at allegations that have been made over the years against people like Edward Heath, Leon Brittan and various other political and establishment figures.

Amongst them will be Lord Greville Janner. He was looked at by the police many decades ago, and eventually by 2005 was being looked at for prosecution, but by the time his case was due to be heard he had developed dementia and the case was dropped as no longer being in the public interest. Jenner was establishment, law, politics, and a very prominent Jewish figure. Two of his children, a QC and a female Rabbi, are very active in trying to defend his name, which is not surprising in that children would naturally want to defend their father from such accusations. Laura, the Rabbi, appears regularly on BBC Radio – she does BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day. The son is an eminent QC, writing today in the Daily Telegraph about his father and what he believes are false accusations.

There is no doubt in my mind that Janner Snr had a case to answer – indeed, the prosecution people did want to bring a case against him before he got ill, and they would not have arrived at that stage without being sure that there was a realistic prospect of conviction – in other words, in their assessment and judgment, Janner was very likely to have committed these crimes of abuse on children over many decades.

My point is, that even though I do not see the fact that abuse happens elsewhere in society and the world as an excuse to minimise the complicity and guilt of the Church and its clericalism in the abuse committed within the Church by clergy, nevertheless it is a fact that abuse of children is widespread, and that very clever and very manipulative people, like Janner et al, were able, as were many bishops and clergy, to obfuscate, deflect, deny, and bully their way through whatever accusations were thrown at them.

We should be thankful that such times have come to an end where people are able to cover up and carry on with their crimes with impunity.. They were assisted by threats, by fear, by influence, by entitlement, by exemption, by power, by authority, by position. That culture existed and probably still exists in some degree in other parts of the world and society, and it existed and probably still exists some degree in the Church. Less and less so, please God.

The thing is, as a simple Catholic, I think I have a right to expect better of a Church that claims to be the successor of the early Church, of St Peter, and instituted by Christ. I can put up with politicians letting me down. I cannot put up with bishops, priests, clergy, the hierarchical Church, letting me down so badly. I expect that of politicians, not of my Pope, Cardinals, bishops and priests. Shame on them for betraying the trust that was given to them by Christ. Shame on them.

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And this is exactly what the people who claim there is an anti-Catholic conspiracy going on, don’t get. Any attempt to minimize the abuse is also ignoring your point about what the church claims to be.
I think the article above is overly optimistic about the church being willing to engage with state authority – I don’t think they’re at all willing to engage and fully expect life to carry on as before. The odd cleric might be offered up as media fodder, but nothing has really changed.
But… This means that this will run and run. A tiny proportion of child abusers are accused and successful convictions are very few indeed.
What this means is there are many more clerics with things to hide… There is no way this is over.

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JS: Since you “entered the fray” on 24/2 your comments have been increasingly enlightening. Thank you. Keep it up.
MMM

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With lent beginning this week maybe it’s time for all the Church to get on its knees and repent for what’s happened in the name of Jesus.

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The Age a print and digital media daily publication from Melbourne has this recent article on the subject of Cardinal Pell;
https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/church-knew-pell-was-at-centre-of-decades-old-lurid-sex-claims-20190307-p512ci.html

I quote
“An ex-seminarian known as ‘‘Joe’’ came forward alleging that Pell and several other priests had, 10 to 15 years earlier, been having sex with Mannix College trainee clerics at ‘‘parties … involving young men’’.

Pell’s appeal is listed to be heard at the Appellate Court in June 6-7. He continues to have many defenders and may well have the convictions for the 5 offences overturned.

If so then what?

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