|Cardinal Pell with Pope Francis|
As has happened in many parts of the world, Australia has seen an ongoing and growing sex abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church and its leadership's systematic cover up of sex crimes against children and youths. While not yet on the scale of what happened in Ireland where the Church's power has collapsed and the country now has a gay prime minister, the problems have been growing. Now, Cardinal George Pell, Australia's highest Catholic cleric has been charged with at least three (3) sex offenses. For many months Pell has been pummeled for his role in cover ups. Now, it seems that Pell may have been a predatory himself. The Sydney Morning Herald reports on this development that one can only hope will put new pressure on the Vatican to clean house of bishops and cardinals involved in the aiding and abetting of predator priests and their subsequent protection. Here are story excerpts:
Cardinal George Pell, Australia's highest ranking Catholic will face at least three serious sex assault charges, including at least one count of rape. Victoria Police has confirmed Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons over multiple allegations against multiple victims and is due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18 for a filing hearing.
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton confirmed in a brief press conference that Cardinal Pell had been issued with multiple charges relating to historic sexual abuse allegations. The charges were served on Cardinal Pell's legal representatives in Melbourne on Thursday, Mr Patton said.
Police did not take any questions during the press conference and did not detail what the allegations were. Mr Patton said it was important that due process was followed.
"Preserving the integrity of that process is essential to us all and so for Victoria Police, it is important that it is allowed to go through unhindered and allowed to see natural justice is afforded to all the parties involved, including Cardinal Pell and the complainants in this matter," he said.
All was quiet at Cardinal Pell's Roman residence as the news broke. He lives in a block of apartments on a square just outside the Vatican walls, metres from St Peter's Square, and a minute's walk from the doors to the Basilica.
[T]he announcement is set to send shockwaves through the Catholic Church in Australia and around the world. . . . Cardinal Pell is the third most senior Catholic at the Vatican, where he is responsible for the church's finances.
The charges are likely to force Cardinal Pell to step aside from his Vatican post while he fights the charges. . . . . a legal source told Fairfax Media that the Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions, John Champion, has been assessing whether Cardinal Pell should face charges of rape, buggery or indecent assault.
As Australia has no extradition treaty with the Vatican, Cardinal Pell may avoid prosecution should he choose not to return to Victoria, but he is expected to come back to fight the charges.
One can only wonder if and when accessories to child sex crimes within the Church hierarchy will ever be held accountable by the Vatican. I am not holding my breath. Meanwhile, moral people should walk away from Catholicism until a thorough house cleaning takes place against bishops and cardinals involved in sex abuse and sex abuse cover ups.