The word is George Pell will walk free … but first the high court must have its say

David Marr The Guardian

The word around the bars is: George Pell will walk free.

These barristers don’t have a heads up. They’re only talking among themselves.

But those who have followed this prosecution as it has made its slow and dramatic way to the high court must face the possibility that the cardinal is about to be acquitted.

Historic child sex assaults make difficult cases. The facts are frequently bizarre. So often there is no corroborating evidence and the word of the accuser is simply pitted against the denials of the accused.

These trials test the criminal law.But Pell’s accuser was undoubtedly convincing.

We will never know everything he had to say about events at St Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996 and early 1997 – he gave all his evidence in camera – but we do know that after convincing the police and prosecution authorities in Victoria, he convinced a jury and then two out of three judges of the court of appeal that Pell raped him.

Pell’s lawyers disagree, of course, but acknowledge how compelling the unknown young man’s evidence has been. Indeed, it’s the lynchpin of their case. Pell’s counsel,

Bret Walker SC, argues the jury and the court of appeal were so swept away by the cardinal’s accuser – by his testimony and his demeanour in the witness box – that they downplayed the evidence in Pell’s favour.George Pell’s appeal ‘glosses over’ evidence that supports conviction, DPP saysIn lawyer speak: “Belief in a ‘compelling’ complainant does not, ipso facto, equate to the elimination of reasonable doubt.”

When the court assembles on Wednesday, a dozen of the finest legal brains in the land will be debating Pell’s fate at a level of stratospheric complexity. But the core argument for the cardinal is simply stated: that the testimony of more than 20 church witnesses left no “realistic opportunity” for him to assault two boys after a solemn mass at St Patrick’s in December 1996.

These altar servers, organists, masters of ceremonies and choirboys from back in those days spoke of locked corridors, regimented processions, old rituals inside the building, new practices on the cathedral steps, crowded rooms, church law, and robes too complicated to expose an archbishop’s penis.Walker’s point is that the combined testimony of these “undisputedly honest witnesses” ought to have left the jury doubting “highly improbable” allegations of rape and sexual assault.

And he accused the appeal court judges whi believe that George Pell is guilty.If the Australian high court acquires him he will be free and presumed innocent.We must all accept the court’s verdict.Could the Aussies retry him?


I am having an IT guru to come to The Oratory over the weekend to help me to set up live Mass broadcasts.I’ll keep readers informed.


Dear Bishop Patrick,

I’m taking this opportunity to thank you, especially now, for your invaluable support to vulnerable, homeless young people during these uncertain times.

Hopefully I’m able to reassure you that we, like you, are doing our part in taking precautions and tackling the challenges that the Coronavirus is placing on each and every one of us.

As the entire country prepares to take more drastic measures to contain the pandemic – school closures, reduced public transport, social distancing, city lock-downs – at Centrepoint, we too, are doing our very best to focus on the safety of the young people in our care and the wellbeing of our staff.

Operating over 60 services across the country and providing over 1,100 bed spaces for homeless young people, we remain, as ever, firmly dedicated to providing the additional support that young people need during this difficult time.

And while this may be the biggest challenge Centrepoint has ever faced, we are fortunate to have such skilled and compassionate people who, I’m confident, will get us through it.

I’d like to share a message from our Wandsworth Housing and Support Manager, Matthew Carlisle, who tells us what his service is experiencing right now.A message from the front line“We are working tirelessly to ensure that young people have all the right information they need to keep themselves safe, whilst providing the everyday essentials – like toilet roll, sanitiser, cleaning products, hand soap, etc.

This is a struggle in itself, due to the panic buying that is happening everywhere.”Visitor bans are in place in our services to restrict the number of people coming in and out, as we want to keep young people’s homes as safe as possible throughout this period. Funds are being used to buy food and other essentials as and when young people need them, as a lot of our usual food donations have stopped deliveries due to the crisis.

“We will also help young people if they have to go into self-isolation by adapting services to cope, and we are reassuring them they’re not alone and staff will be here to help them through.

One of the most important things we’re doing is giving emotional support to young people – who are scared like the rest of us.

“Young people have said to me today that they are shocked that staff are still here in services. I have told them, ‘I will be here unless I get sick, and so will my staff. We won’t disappear when things get tough. We will get through this together by following the guidelines and supporting each other when needed.’

“I cannot keep services safe and Covid-19 free without young people’s cooperation, and as always they have not disappointed me yet. They are positive, listening to advice, and they are a pleasure to serve.

”We are expecting a major loss in our income as several of our fundraising activities and events are now cancelled.

But we are doing what we can to minimise the impact of this to our support services for homeless young people. The situation is constantly evolving and we will be updating you regularly in the following weeks. On behalf of everyone at Centrepoint, and the young people we serve, thank you for standing with us. We will get through this together.

Best wishes,Jane West
Head of Supporter Giving, Centrepoint


We must care FOR EVERYONE in the Coronavirus crisis.

But, if you are homeless how can you self isolate?How can you wash your hands hourly.

You will have no problem being6 feet away from others.

They will not come within 6 feet of you.

I support centrepoint.

Can you support them- or some other homelessness charity?



by Ruth Gledhill The Tablet

Prfessor Alexis Jay, chair, and the IICSA panel.

Forty years of public scandal has “forced” the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches to admit they have a problem of child sex abuse, the latest hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has been told.

“No current Catholic or Anglican leader would come before this inquiry now and seriously try to maintain that clerical sex abuse scandals had never happened,”

Richard Scorer, representing several core participants, told the first day of the hearing into child protection in “religious organisations and settings”.

But he added: “In some, if not many, of the settings here, there is no such admission. Indeed, there is clearly a deep reluctance on the part of many religious leaders to admit that they even have a problem at all.

“He said the evidence from the Catholic and Anglican hearings is clear:

“Self-regulation doesn’t work.”The hearing was due to run for 10 days but was postponed indefinitely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic after just one day.Scorer said that many of the communities being examined in the latest hearings can be relatively closed and isolated from the secular world.

The hearing will examine Baptist, Methodist and other church organisations, along with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim groups, youth groups, camps, religious educational settings and more.

He said: “The Catholic and Anglican Churches are rightly criticised for their failings on sexual abuse, but those churches, at least today, are much more integrated into wider society than many of the organisations you are examining now and this has significant implications for child protection.

“To take just one example, in the Catholic Church of today, a diocesan safeguarding commission will typically include professionals with experience in secular organisations like the police, social work, teaching and law, a commission might include non-Catholics.

By contrast, when you think about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, the idea of a circuit or region of that church having a safeguarding commission staffed by secular professionals is totally inconceivable.”It wouldn’t happen, because the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leadership regards the external world, the secular world, as corrupt and evil and not as a source of useful guidance and expertise.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are, of course, entitled to hold the beliefs they do, but it has to be recognised that this belief system has important implications for child protection. It means that in many of the settings you are examining, secular expertise and child protection norms will not readily be welcomed voluntarily.

“Scorer urged the inquiry chair, Professor Alexis Jay, to “treat with scepticism” any arguments for self-regulation based on religious freedom.He said:

“None of our clients want the state to dictate what people can believe. But, as you know, religious freedom is not an absolute right. It can be legitimately abridged to protect the rights and freedoms of others and there are few rights and freedoms more important than the right of children to be free of sexual abuse.

Where children are at risk, the state has a legitimate right to require action to protect them. Most institutions in wider society now expect to be held accountable and particularly in regard to safeguarding.

“He added: “Religion cannot be treated differently to any other part of society… pleas for religious freedom are really pleas for religious exceptionalism.. and should be rejected.”Fiona Scolding, counsel to the inquiry, said in her opening statement, said that “some individuals do use religious organisations as a route to be able to be with children without suspicion, and they groom and perpetrate sexual abuse upon children in these settings.

The power and influence of those in positions of religious leadership or the way that the community operates itself can lead to such abuses being silenced or ignored.

“There are no reliable statistical surveys to identify the prevalence of sexual offending against children in religious settings.

According to statistics published by the Office of National Statistics in January this year, around 7.5 per cent of all adults in England and Wales experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16, which is around 3.1 million people.

Of the 183 individuals who have spoken to the inquiry’s Truth Project who had been sexually abused by either religious staff or within a religious organisation, most related to the Church of England and the Catholic Church, in line with the general population demographic.

Of other religious organisations, around 11 per cent of those who have spoken to the Truth Project were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The investigation is focussing on the measures religious organisations employ to keep children safe from sexual abuse and to handle safeguarding concerns.


I absolutely agree that the RCC, and other churches, be forbidden to run their own safeguarding systems.

The appearance of people like ELSIE NICHOLS of Birminghan and London is perfect proof that RC bishops are unfit to be in charge of safeguarding.

Diocesan safeguarding officers are paid MASSIVE SALARIES by the bishop.”He who pays the piper calls the tune”.

I have discovered that these safeguarding officers are there to protect the bishop and the diocese.

They send victims to be counselled by church friendly counsellors.

When FATHER CIARAN DALLAT made a parishioner pregnant Bishop Treanor would not allow me, her chosen support person, to attend her meeting with him.

He wanted her to go and see a counsellor he recommended.

I advised her to choose her own counsellor who had no church connections and the diocese did pay for it.

Then Dallat got a few months paid holidays, then was appointed prison chaplain, chaplain to A GIRLS SCHOOL and is now the PARISH PRIEST OF LOUGHINISLAND.

So, you make a parishioner pregnant, get a holiday and then made PP.A non church safeguarding body would NOT TOLERATE this happening.