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The Long History of Cardinal Pell and the Hostile Media Part 1

February 22, 2016

The Long History of Cardinal Pell and the Hostile Media Part 1

What if I told you that the media’s seething hatred toward Cardinal Pell has little to do with any enquire into child abuse? You may think that I am crazy. But unfortunately this is precisely what has happened. Some may say that origins of the hate predates Pell being born and has its roots deeper in the long sectarian and secular battle for hearts and minds of the people.

Orthodoxy is not a Political Structure

The secular media like to describe Cardinal Pell as conservative catholic as if it is the same thing as a political conservative. Unfortunately politics and religion are fundamentally different entities meaning that political definitions are hardly applicable to theology. In reality terms like Liberal and Conservative have minuscule relevance. The correct term for Pell is an orthodox catholic. In other words he is someone who is following the orthodox teachings of his religion. It is what he signed up for a priest and what he was expected to do as bishop.

What some outside observers, such as the media, activists and politicians, fail to grasp is that their observations is like comparing apple with oranges. The political pertains to power structures and popular movements whereas orthodoxy pertains to what is considered as objective truths. For people who are only interested in seeing the world in political constraints then traditional concepts of any religion is nothing more than another form of political conservatism and by extension, dangerously right wing.

There are people who are determined to apply political definitions on every institution they see. There are people who will engage in power struggles for their own political and social agendas even from within the church.

Over the last 50  years or so there has been a battle between theological modernists and traditionalists. The modernists want to rewrite church dogma and traditions in favour of contemporary social interpretation to match the world. The traditionalists want to stay within the orthodox practices and teachings of the church. Modernism should never be confused with modernity as it an ideology that it directly attacks the notion of orthodox religion.

When Pell was appointed archbishop of Melbourne he took over a diocese that had almost entirely been consumed by modernists. Accountability in some parishes was almost non-existent. Catholic schools were producing an entire generation of students who had no knowledge of their religion. In Melbourne, many religious classes had no structure because they relied upon a vague set of guidelines from the modernist friendly Catholic Education Office. The matter went further with religious education being watered down in the colleges that instructed catholic teachers. Even the education facilities, seminaries and convents, virtually gave up on teaching orthodox instruction to its students. By the time that George Pell was installed as a Bishop the norm in schools was rely upon the modernist rhetoric rather than formal instruction. In many cases, 12 years of education in catholic schools produced a generation who knew no more about their faith than students who had spent 12 years in public schools.

One of the first initiative that the then Archbishop Pell took was to have the religious instruction for catholic schools completely redesigned. Vague fuzzy feel good lessons were to be replaced with a formal curriculum. New text books were designed to reflect the traditional orthodox teachings of the church.

As a direct result of this George Pell won the hatred of the Modernists, activists and self-declared rebels within the church. Many fearing that they were losing the battle in their modernist revolution resorted to called archbishop ‘Pell Pot’ after the Cambodian mass murderer Pol Pot. Even within the secular media, Archbishop Pell was derided as an old fashion reactionary to the modern world and its newly discovered moralities.

One of the earliest conflicts to be reported widely in the media occurred in the 1990s when gay and lesbian rights activists decided to stage a protest inside the Melbourne St Patricks Cathedral. Activists wearing prominent rainbow sashes to signify what they represented attempted to embarrass the Archbishop by lining up to receive communion specifically from him. Each person who wore the sash was given a blessing but was refused communion. The activists gave a television interview outside the cathedral to a waiting television news scrum condemning George Pell for refusing to go along with their publicity stunt. The same media stunt was attempted on several occasions with the same result: Condemnation of Pell by the activists and the media. When George Pell was transferred to Sydney, gay and lesbian activists tried the same stunt.

Sydney activists pose for a press photo. May 2002

George Pell also inherited the clergy abuse scandal that had its origins in 1970’s and was largely curtailed by the late 1980s. Much of the media attention had broken about the abuse in the very late 1980s to the early 1990s. However, the peak period where the abuses had occurred was already being addressed with the advent of Pope John Paul 2 and his second in command Cardinal Ratzinger (who would eventually become Pope Benedict). Pope John Paul 2 was an orthodox traditionalist in matters of theology and as a result was utterly hated by the Modernists within the church. The move back to orthodox and away from modernism came after Cardinal Ratzinger produced a report known as the ‘Ratzinger Report’ which pinpointed where he perceived the problems in the church existed. George Pell comes from the same school of thought as John Paul 2 and Cardinal Ratzinger and often has the same enemies inside and outside the church.

Soon after Pell was installed as Archbishop of Melbourne the premier for the ♠State of Victoria had come under pressure to do something about the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. He called Archbishop Pell to his office and demanded that something be done about this. However, Pell had already setup one of the first organisations for dealing with clergy abuse in the world. The organisation called ‘Towards Healing’ became the model that adopted around Australia and in many places in the world. It was set up to hear accusations of abuse and deal with issues like compensation for victims. Despite his efforts, Pell received very little thanks for fixing an issue that had festered under his predecessor. Instead, he was portrayed in the media as Vatican stalwart against political correctness. As Archbishop he was unashamedly opposed to the legalisation of abortion and the moral legitimization of homosexuality. For a gay media activist like David Marr, the existence was a constant irritant that he often lashed out for not condoning his lifestyle choice.

The biggest issue to strike at Archbishop Pell came soon after he transferred to Sydney. An accusation was raised in 2002 that he had sexually abused someone when he was a young seminarian in the city Ballarat. Whilst the charges were still being investigated George Pell was subjected to the same conditions that he had installed in the Towards Healing program. He was stood down from his position until the matter was resolved. The media had a field day as this went on, with many scarcely containing their delight. The reporting was as gratuitous as it was salacious. One editorial mentioned how many people were delighted to see Pell finally being taken down. Unfortunately, for the 2002 lynch mob, the allegations were proven to be false and Pell was cleared of all charges. Why? Because George Pell was not even in Ballarat at the time of the alleged incident.

A blatant hatchet job on Cardinal Pell by long-time critic David Marr

Soon after being exonerated George Pell was promoted to the position of Cardinal, which in hierarchical terms is one step below being a pope.

End of Part 1.

Part 2 Here

♠Update: 5/3/15  It has often been reported that the Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennet demanded that Cardinal Pell do something about the child abuse  scandal. However Cardinal Pell had already discussed the issue with the Governer of Victoria and as a result was able to tell Kennet about the Towards Healing program that he was setting up.



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