Australian police charge Vatican cardinal with sex offenses
Published on: 12:57 am, June 30, 2017 by: mattersindia.com.
(Note: Sex related crimes in Catholic Church are shaking it from every angle. In Kerala, recently two cases of parish assistants absconding with married ladies of their parish and another with a choir girl were reported. Now similar news do not at all scare Church authorites; every segment of the Church is dumped with sex allegations against priests. I think this Australian news is published only because the alleged is a top brass. I'm reminded of a comment an ex-Jesuit priest, Swami (Dr) John K Thekkedam, who is an authority in Bibilcal interpretations recently wrote:
He wrote, "The Catholic Church and all other Christian denominations and other religions need radical reformation. I have no doubt about that. Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan, who was more popular than Cardinal Josef Ratzinger to become the next Pope opted out because of his health. He gave a famous interview shortly before his death. You can find that all important interview through Google search. In that interview he stated that the Catholic Church is at least 200 years behind times. The Catholic church in Kerala is at least 300 hundred years behind times. Now that said, I do not want to look for quick remedies.I do not believe Church Act is a solution to corruption in the Church. There are some bad apples. Most priests and nuns are good persons wanting to do the right thing for the Lord and the people.They come from our families. But they do not think for themselves and follow unquestioningly the bishops and cardinals who do not discern the signs of the times, and mostly live in the "triumphant" Church of the past. If Christ were to come today, he will not recognize this pompous Church that does not teach his teachings for which he was crucified. The remedy we propose should not become worse than the malady. The reformation movements need to come together and develop a plan with a strong theological and spiritual base, and put all the energy in conscientization of God's people. Peace, love." – Joseph Mattappally Asso. Editor, CCV)
Sydney: Australian police on June 29 charged a top Vatican cardinal with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offenses, a stunning decision certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See.
Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ chief financial adviser and Australia’s most senior Catholic, is the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal.
Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said police have summonsed Pell to appear in an Australian court to face multiple charges of “historic sexual offenses,” meaning offenses that generally occurred some time ago. Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell, but gave no other details on the allegations against the cardinal. Pell was ordered to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18.
Pell has repeatedly denied all abuse allegations made against him. The Catholic Church in Australia, which issues statements on Pell’s behalf, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges.
“It is important to note that none of the allegations that have been made against Cardinal Pell have, obviously, been tested in any court yet,” Patton told reporters in Melbourne. “Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process.”
The charges are a new and serious blow to Pope Francis, who has already suffered several credibility setbacks in his promised “zero tolerance” policy about sex abuse.
For years, Pell has faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney.
His actions as archbishop came under intense scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children.
Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse — the nation’s highest form of inquiry — has found shocking levels of abuse in Australia’s Catholic Church, revealing earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades.
Last year, Pell acknowledged during his testimony to the commission that the Catholic Church had made “enormous mistakes” in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims in his Australian hometown of Ballarat.
But more recently, Pell himself became the focus of a clergy sex abuse investigation, with Victoria detectives flying to the Vatican last year to interview the cardinal. It is unclear what allegations the charges announced Thursday relate to, but two men, now in their 40s, have said that Pell touched them inappropriately at a swimming pool in the late 1970s, when Pell was a senior priest in Melbourne.
Australia has no extradition treaty with the Vatican. That leaves two likely outcomes: Either Pell volunteers to return to Australia to fight the charges, or the Vatican could tell the cardinal to do so, said Donald Rothwell, an international law expert at the Australian National University.
“I would think that the pope would be very concerned to think that one of his cardinals, and someone who holds a high position within the Vatican government structure, is being wanted on criminal charges in Australia,” Rothwell said in a recent interview. “So if the pope was to say, ‘Well look, Cardinal Pell, I’d like you to return to Australia and mount a defense,’ I’m sure Cardinal Pell would probably follow that instruction. … In the case of someone like Cardinal Pell, the sway that the pope and the church has over him is much greater than the ordinary citizen.”
The charges put Pope Francis in a thorny position. In 2014, Francis won cautious praise from victims’ advocacy groups when he created a commission of outside experts to advise him and the broader church about “best practices” to fight abuse and protect children.
But the commission has since lost much of its credibility after its two members who were survivors of abuse left. Francis also scrapped the commission’s signature proposal — a tribunal section to hear cases of bishops who covered up for abuse — after Vatican officials objected.
In addition, Francis drew heated criticism for his 2015 appointment of a Chilean bishop accused by victims of helping cover up for Chile’s most notorious pedophile. The pope was later caught on videotape labeling the parishioners who opposed the nomination of being “leftists” and “stupid.”
When Francis was asked last year about the accusations against Pell, he said he wanted to wait for Australian justice to take its course before judging. “It’s true, there is a doubt,” he told reporters en route home from Poland. “We have to wait for justice and not first make a mediatic judgment — a judgment of gossip — because that won’t help.”
“Once justice has spoken, I will speak,” he said.
Francis appointed Pell in 2014 to a five-year term to head the Vatican’s new economy secretariat, giving him broad rein to control all economic, administrative, personnel and procurement functions of the Holy See. The mandate has since been restricted to performing more of an oversight role.
It remains to be seen how Pell — and the pope — will respond to the developments.
Given Francis’ credibility is on the line, any decision to keep Pell on as prefect while facing charges would reflect poorly on Francis, given he remains one of the pope’s top advisers.
At the same time, the Vatican has a history of shielding its own: When Cardinal Bernard Law resigned in disgrace in 2002 over his cover-up of abuse in Boston, victims expressed outrage that St. John Paul II gave him a plum position as archpriest of a Rome basilica.
The transfer spared Law what would likely have been years of litigation and testimony in U.S. courts as victims sued the archdioceses for their abuse, though Law himself was never criminally charged with wrongdoing.
In the 1980s, the Vatican refused to cooperate with Italian investigators when one of its officials, Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus, was indicted over a banking scandal. The Vatican successfully cited his diplomatic immunity.
(Times of India)