Why people hate George Pell: A victim speaks

As the legal process for Cardinal George Pell drags on into the appeals process, and unease grows in some quarters that a miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated, it?s also worth considering the visceral hatred for Pell in other quarters, most notably in the legacy media and the political left. The mood in some quarters was openly celebratory.

Pell inspires strong emotions. The following, from a sexual abuse victim, gives some insight why. Quote:

As a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest over a period of more than 12 years?I feel saddened that the experiences of the complainant have been so disrespected by many commentators who feel the need to express doubt over what a jury of 12 has been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. End of quote.

While his dismay that the verdict (and therefore the testimony of the complainant) is being questioned, I would argue that people are merely questioning the fairness of the second trial rather than ?disrespecting? anyone. Quote:

George Pell apologised to me for the legal abuse perpetrated by the church under his watch as Archbishop of Sydney. Before he departed for Rome in 2014, he famously recited a public apology not to me but to the assembled audience at the conclusion of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing. I had a cup of tea with him. While that was a private meeting and will remain so, I can say that I have never felt any warmth from the man. I was not left with a sense of any acceptance of personal responsibility for how he sought to crush me or any appreciation of the impacts of his own actions?

George Pell has been a controversial figure for decades and has been a staunch defender of the church. He has repeatedly touted his credentials as a person to whom sexual abuse of minors is an abhorrent scourge on the church. He has done so as a cover to seek to divert attention away from his record as a man who has waged a covert war on victims and survivors of abuse and who orchestrated the church?s defence to my claim ? the “Ellis defence”, by which I was figuratively hung, drawn and quartered and displayed as a warning to any other survivor who may have the temerity to seek to sue the church. It claimed there was “no legal entity responsible for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church”. End of quote.

Some of this is fair enough. The Ellis defence was a dismayingly tricky legal manoeuvre, but perhaps unsurprising when, as Pell related, the incumbent pope viewed abuse allegations as a Communist plot. To his faint credit, Pell had also earlier organised the ?Melbourne Response Program? and ?Towards healing?. Both programs were clearly inadequate, but they were also the first real response in the world from the church to the growing scandal of priestly abuse.

Particularly, the use of a ?general apology? (again, probably a legal manoeuvre to avoid personal liability) rather than a personal apology failed to satisfy victims and deepened the image of Pell as distant and uncaring.

This is the key to the public opprobrium of Pell: ?George Pell has been a controversial figure for decades and has been a staunch defender of the church?. For the many people who have come to hate the Catholic church, Pell was its most visible face in Australia. As such, he quickly became a kind of political voodoo doll on everything from gay marriage to priestly abuse. Quote:

He will be judged ultimately in the court of public opinion, whatever the outcome of the processes still to ensue in the civil courts?

His detractors will focus not so much on whether his conviction stands or the details of what happened in St Patrick?s Cathedral in 1996, but rather on what he has been as a leader of the Catholic Church and how he has affected their life or the lives of their loved ones. End of quote.

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That?s the nub of it all: the specific conviction (whether it stands or not) is almost irrelevant. For many, Pell was convicted long ago of being George Pell. In their eyes, that man is an uncaring monster.

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