A survivor's take on the Pell verdict

23 Comments

 

Trigger warning: sexual abuse, sexual assault, child abuse.

When invited to give a victim's view of the events of last week I thought yes, I can give my 'thoughts' — or I can give a view that allows for contemplation. So here we go!

George Pell arrives at Melbourne County Court on 27 February 2019. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

I, along with others, was abused by a Jesuit. We spoke out, justice was sought, and he was convicted. He now rots and most likely will die in jail. Right up to his sentencing he maintained his innocence and made no apology. There was no media circus leading up to his conviction. Factual evidence proved his guilt.

I was uneasy with aspects of the Pell trial. The media frenzy sickened me. The court-issued gag orders to Australian media were laughable. All information was readily found on Google. Does this allow for a fair trial? I think not.

Do I have the utmost contempt and hatred for the Catholic Church? Yes. Do I have anger and hatred for the Pope and the Vatican? Yes. Do I want to see every paedophile in the Church worldwide sought out, and charged? Yes. Do I see just how hypocritical the Church is? Yes.

Are the Pope and Catholic Church taking real action to fix this evil? No. Are the Australian Church and Jesuits taking a true stand? No. Are the Australian Church and the Jesuits sincere in supporting the victims of abuse at their people's hands? No.

Should the Vatican, the Pope, the Australian Church, and the Jesuits take a sincere, united, transparent approach to together denounce these atrocities, apologise and not be afraid and ashamed to show what the church supposedly stands for? Yes.

The Church worldwide, and for me especially the Jesuits, are slow to act. They have total disregard for what the victims of these abusers have to deal with day in, day out. That in itself is criminal.

 

"It disgusts me that a religious organisation like the Catholic Church sits back and has a summit, a summit that is all talk and no action."

 

They seek to protect themselves. They don't really care about the survivors, or those who have departed this world at the hands of these 'demons'. They care only about their image and how to avoid litigation.

Apparently there are committees deep within Church institutions that secretly work on tightening up, amending and making standards for their schools and churches to follow. I can guarantee there wouldn't be one abuse survivor on any of these committees. How can they be genuinely attempting to correct the past for the present and the future — purely by using so-called 'experts'?

Having experienced abuse myself, I was repulsed to hear from Pell no apology, no acknowledgement, no statement at all about what he'd been accused and convicted of. Please tell me what's wrong. Say something! You are/were the third most powerful Catholic in the world. I'm a victim, show some form of empathy, some human emotion, towards us.

It disgusts me that a religious organisation like the Catholic Church sits back and has a summit, a summit that is all talk and no action.

The Catholic Church isn't a law unto itself. Pull your heads in and take a good hard look at yourselves and the laws you follow and hypocritically teach and preach. You've given a new meaning to the word 'coverup', and in doing so have become a laughing stock and possibly the most hated organisation in the world. So much for Christian values!

From  the Pope, to the Jesuit Provincial here in Australia and others: show leadership, sincerity and transparency. Don't hide behind the 'cloth' — or the lawyers. You are meant to be people of God. Evil has been committed by 'people of god'. For me, therefore, there is no God.

Despite all this, as I see it, the Church can still rebuild its tarnished and rapidly-diminishing reputation. It just needs to be open and honest.

Victim #6, abuse survivor

 

For confidential counselling and support call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit https://www.1800respect.org.au/ 

 

Main image: George Pell arrives at Melbourne County Court on 27 February 2019. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Topic tags: George Pell, clergy sexual abuse

 

 

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Dear and valued survivor. You have shown great courage in reporting what you experienced and what you have written here. Like you, I harbour similar views regarding the evil elements that have brought such distress to so many, both the abused and non-abused. I can assure you that there are many good Catholics and good priests including the Jesuits who feel for you and are genuinely saddened by your plight. I also realise that such empathy with your plight is not necessarily a healer. You are correct in demanding that the institutional system which has failed miserably realigns its attitudes and hopefully that will now happen with the shock of jailing a Catholic Cardinal. In the midst of the terrible distress you have suffered I sincerely hope that you can accept that there are many who love you and others like you, not the least of whom is the God that Christianity has abandoned and abused in favour of the human hubris that allowed this evil for so long without taking any action. While it is understandably so difficult to heal this terrible wrong through our human resources, the one who will always extend a healing hand is that God who has also been damnedly abused by these evil people. I pray that you can find healing again one day. God bless.
john frawley | 06 March 2019


Victim No 6, That's a great expose. Dont worry, the Church may be riddled with rank and status but we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. Recall Luke 14 -7 /14: "But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Not all Jesuits are bad. O'Connor, Daly were great Jesuits. And you are right, the survivors should be on the committee. Bless you.
francis Armstrong | 06 March 2019


Where were the Catholic school teachers when abuse was occurring? If state school teachers had to comply with mandatory reporting of abuse why were the Catholic teachers covering their eyes?
Anne Ramsay | 06 March 2019


Dear No6. I support everything that John Frawley has just written. As a bit of Catholic suffering and shell-shocked pew-fodder, on this Ash-Wednesday, I want to say how very very sorry I am for your suffering and the inadequacies of my/our leaders who have made it worse. At these times I can only think of Jesus our Christ nailed bleeding in terrible pain on the cross. Beyond that there is no sensible explanation.
Eugene | 06 March 2019


Congratulations Eureka Street for publishing this searingly honest article.
victoria graham | 06 March 2019


LASTING HURT AND DISAPPOINTMENT I’m either brave or foolhardy to comment as I am not a fellow survivor of sexual abuse. Yet to ignore this post surely does nothing more than suggest that it has not been heard. It is obvious that the writer still has vehement feelings about what happened to him/her. In spite of that the points raised have validity and suggest that no change in the church will spell its “death” - indeed in the eyes of many it is already dead. Might I suggest that the solution to a church resurrection does not lie in the Pope or Bishops proclaiming, enacting and policing new laws and protocols however important these are seen to be. Rather I believe too little emphasis has been, and continues to be, placed on our Christian identity as a result of our Bapism. Too much emphasis has been placed on the word Catholic, too little on the word Christian. If we take seriously the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are taught is the gift above all others given at Baptism why do we not pay greater heed to what this means? For me it has always meant that I am privileged to bring the love of God to ”my world.” That is the failure of the Catholic Church when it lauds clerics and religious thereby relegating other baptised members. I believe that only a focus on Christian spirituality that has every Baptised man, woman and child live each day with such an awareness can “save” the church. This is not new. It simply has to be taught, to be preached and most of all to be lived.
Ern Azzopardi | 06 March 2019


Brilliantly but sadly spot on. I confer as a victim/survivor and as an academic researching the issue.
Stephen de Weger | 06 March 2019


Thanks Victim #6, abuse survivor, for sharing some of your story. May God bless you and heal you. I think the extensive child sexual abuse and cover ups in the Catholic Church are a symptom of the Church's dysfunctional governance and unless its governance becomes transparent, inclusive, consultative and accountable, I believe it will have many more scandals and will also continue to decline. Pope Francis rightly sees clericalism as an evil in the Church. Perhaps its time for the Church to abolish ordination! Jesus never ordained anyone. As for the ordained being entologically changed and an ordained man being an 'alter Christus', another Christ, I don't buy that! If that were true, we wouldn't have had the child sexual abuse and cover ups scandal.
Grant Allen | 06 March 2019


Thank you for your honesty. You have helped me understand ,partly, the extent of your suffering.I offer you my shame and deep sorrow, for the pain inflicted.
Bernie Introna | 06 March 2019


Dear Victim 6 Thank you and my sincerest best wishes. Also thank you Eureka Street this occasion is why since its inception I still support Eureka Street.
Judith Quilter | 06 March 2019


Outrage, anger and hurt: these are the lasting legacies of sexual abuse. Your writing is courageous and intensely honest, Victim #6, thank you. There are still many people in the Church who just do not 'get it', parishioners and leaders alike. The media frenzy after the verdict in the Pell trial was, and continues to be, a trigger for so many people who have suffered sexual abuse in an institutional setting and in other contexts. To have the verdict dissected in such a way has been disrespectful to the process of law and to survivors. I would add that faith is about a personal relationship with God, nothing to do with ego, but about the ground of our being. Hold on to this, if possible.
Pam | 06 March 2019


Dear Victim No6. I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering you have endured and continue to suffer. I believe you. I too was horrifically abused by religious clergy but take no joy in the happenings of the last week or so. I feel bitterly sorry for the victim in Cardinal Pell’s case as he now has to suffer the pain of being disbelieved by so many. However, when one makes allegations and signs a police statement this is made under oath. The victim was cross examined under oath so why on earth would he risk a purjury charge on top of his pain and suffering? I believe him. I pray the church will one day get back to the heart of Jesus of Nazerath and do away with all the pomp and glory. I wish you peace.
Collette | 06 March 2019


#victim no 6 - I am so sorry that you have suffered so much and thank you for your bravery and courage to tell your story - it could have been any of us or our family members telling your story - this is something we should all not forget as we gather you in a cloak of hope, love and healing.
Susan O'Brien | 06 March 2019


Firstly, thank you Eureka Street for having the courage to give Victim #6 a platform to express his (or her) feelings and story. The survivor's point of view makes a good balance to the Frank Brennan's recent take on the Pell verdict. Ironically, of the two the one that rings true is Victim #6's words because they are not coated in legal filters. This is a story from the heart, and it is plain to any open minded individual that they ring true. Brennan's words were about legal strategies that might have seen him found not guilty - hardly the tactic of someone who was completely innocent, methinks. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Victim #6. I appreciate that after not being believed for many years it must feel strange indeed to now, at last, have your voice heard.
Martin Killips | 06 March 2019


What I would want to do, Victim #6, if I met you, would be to give you a great big hug, congratulate you for being the hero you are and thank you and all the other heroes like you who have had the bravery to come out and expose this vile, destructive and demonic abuse that has, uptill now, been concealed within the Catholic Church. It would be hard to know what penance would be sufficient to impose on your abuser, who, whatever legal penalty he suffers, is in manifest danger of burning in the Fires of Hell. That should really be terrifying him. Sadly, I think those of his like are so morally, spiritually and psychologically defective that they often cannot realise the sheer magnitude of the evil they have done. One atrocity of the type visited on you is utterly deplorable and inexcusable, but a multitude...? The hierarchy, with some obvious exceptions, have been found utterly derelict here. Mass resignation and replacement should be the order of the day. Someone said it will take the Catholic Church 200 years to recover. I believe that. The Church needs to be totally cleansed.
Edward Fido | 07 March 2019


Dear Victim #6, Thank you for your courage and passion in sharing this. I'm not a victim of sexual abuse. I, like most of the Church, am a victim of a hierarchy that has, in practice, not only failed to love us, but has treated us with contempt, shown in a thousand ways. I know many of them would be unaware of this, but if they were capable of a humble examination of their conscience, they would be. I know there is a very small handful of bishops who truly know what's happening, but they are too small in number to turn the tide. As far as this Catholic is concerned, the hierarchy has lost all authority. If I believed in excommunication, I'd excommunicate them. As it is, my Church lives and quietly carries out its mission - but only in the parishes, schools, hospitals and works of mercy and healing. I don't believe we find Christ in Rome - we have to find Him at home, and I believe we still do. As for Bishops - repent, and turn to our God again, but don't talk to me! (By the way, I can't find any evidence that Pell is guilty under the law, but I think there's a justice in his sentence. The people have found him guilty of lack of love, whether or not he was the one who so deeply wounded his accuser.
Joan Seymour | 07 March 2019


Congratulations Eureka Street for allowing this victim to write. I, have been in your situation, but I experienced physical abuse from nuns and brothers while in boarding school in the 19510's and 60's. I have never forgotten, nor can I forgive, as I know many others experienced the same. Some were terribly traumatised by their experience My late mother dismissed our allegations with the retort; "you must have deserved it" .She could find no wrong. But;our experiences pale when compared with the loss of integrity you must feel. I have worked with many wonderful dedicated religious brothers with whom I taught over almost three decades .Sadly three turned out to be abusers, which shocked me when I found out years later and still does today. The time has come for us grassroots Catholics to take control of our Church and rid it of the clericalism that has led to this scourge . There are ,sadly, many clergy who use their positions to "lord it over" their congregations and parishes. The days of "Father is always right" are gone forever. Parish and Diocesan Pastoral Councils, nominally in advisory roles, but often in practice, "rubber stamps', need to be given the authority to administer Parishes and Dioceses completely with Parish Priests and Bishops exercising the Pastoral roles given them in Ordination. Parish and Diocesan communities should play a role in the selection of their leaders and be able to affirm them into their positions. The practice of the Vatican appointing Bishops and other Hierarchy should be devolved to the local congregations in the Dioceses. who know at first hand who would be suitable candidates to be entrusted with shepherding the the local Church. Jesus did not intend the situation that has evolved over the centuries where the few, lord it over everyone else. This was very much a result of the official recognition of the Church as a "state religion" . Anne, I was a teachers in Catholic schools. We knew nothing of this abuse. Anyway, if we did, what could we do about it? The Priests, Brothers and Nuns were ranked above us because we were "lay People" . We had little if any say in dealing with such allegations .Simply put, like the parents who did complain, no one would have believed us. During most of my teaching career we had religious in charge of the school. Lay people only assumed these positions recently when the 'supply' of nuns and brothers declined and it became necessary to allow lay leadership. May the good Lord bless you and keep you close to His Heart, so wounded by these transgressions . Shalom.
Gavin O'Brien | 07 March 2019


A very wise commentator compared the recent worldwide Child Sex Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church to the very apparent abuses in Early Modern Times which led to the Reformation. One of the central reasons for both these scandals was, obviously, the rigid, unbending hierarchical approach to Church governance, which was reinforced during the Counter Reformation. I am terrified that 'The Old Firm', the remaining hierarchs who are proven incompetent here, are waiting till this crisis blows away to go back to 'The Good Old Days'. Gavin O'Brien and others have painted an accurate picture of what these 'Good Old Days' were really like. One of the most prophetic voices of the last century to me was the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. He was a Russian Orthodox bishop in the United Kingdom, whose diocese of Sourozh was given a considerable degree of autonomy by the Moscow Patriarchate, which can be just as rigid and hierarchical as Rome. He used this autonomy wisely and his diocese flourished and attracted many converts, often disillusioned Anglicans who were seeking a deeper spirituality. Sadly, on his demise, the diocese was not able to continue on as it had. The current Pope has been appalled by this Child Sex Abuse Scandal and does want to solve it in a collegial way. He also wants the Church to live, not ossify, as it will if it does not change. Joan Seymour is right, the Church belongs to the believers and the world, it is not a clerical boys club.
Edward Fido | 08 March 2019


The Church must change, include women, married priests and female priests. The Priests should only do the pastoral thing and the lay people should look after the administration. Currently the clergy have far too much power. We must listen to the victims and not take as correct what the accused say.
Louis Shane Allan | 08 March 2019


A valuable insight, which I think is spot on. I fail to see real change in the Catholic Church. I know there are many very good religious who have to wear this horror, which is unfair. I don’t know where we go from here. Thanks to the survivor who wrote this and to Eureka for publishing it.
Cate | 08 March 2019


Victim #6 is a brave person to state their anger and disgust, both of which may be keeping them alive. S/he is also the voice of those who've not survived. Who dealt with the degradation and betrayal, through drug & alcohol abuse, suicide and whose stories can no longer be truthfully told. The emotional cost to victims and their families will continue to run for several generations to come. The Church & its institutions are yet to realise that by accepting it's faults, & owning up to it's own shame could be the way to find healing . "The crack that lets the light in..." But right now it seems to me that the need for power, control , and financial security are still the main agenda. Where do we Catholics who want to keep hearing the lessons from a brother named Jesus, find a space to do that? it seems to me that the whole institution will need to fall apart before it can survive . Thank you Victim # 6. Maintain your rage!
Elizabeth Mulrennan | 08 March 2019


Thank you for speaking up, for sharing the vicious darkness that has lingered so long in the shadow and under the protection of the Church and its powerful masters. Thank you also to Eureka Street for publishing the view of a victim, after initially siding with the apologists and printing the offensive accusations of Father Brennan - late to let victims come to word, but better late than never. Maybe there is hope, even for the Church?
Ulf Steinvorth | 08 March 2019


Thanks Victim #6. Unfortunately the case against Cardinal Pell has changed nothing. Proof is the recent Vatican Summit on abuse. The official photograph says it all: row after row of compliant silent figures dressed in Thai green silk with red zuchettas in front and purple behind. Not a lay person in sight. Lots of talk and no real action. It is impossible to find the teachings of the gentle Jesus in all this hubris. I hope you find healing, otherwise your abuser will continue to do so for the rest of your life.
Edward | 09 March 2019


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