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The Long History of Cardinal Pell and the Hostile Media Part 2

February 27, 2016

The Long History of Cardinal Pell and the Hostile Media Part 2

In the first part, we looked at the historical environment of the last 50 years or so. The ideological and theological rifts that have trouble society and churches still reverberate through today. On the political side, there are people who describe themselves as progressive and other who call themselves conservative. However in theological spheres, the old left versus right politics does not fit the divide between orthodox and non-orthodox. Looking at any religion through purely political eyes is as erroneous as applying political theories to cooking a meal. If you think hard enough then everything can be made fit the warped mind of an ideologue. However, reality sets itself apart from human obsessions.

Archbishop Frank Little

The Little problem

Cardinal Pell did inherit a vast number of problems when he was first elevated to the role of Archbishop of Melbourne. Most of these issues relate directly to the lapse management from his predecessor Archbishop Frank Little, whose style of leadership was to ignore major transgressions. Included in these transgressions was a long list of child abuse accusations against practising clergy. Frank Little was installed as archbishop of Melbourne in 1973 and retired due ill health in 1996. This was the precise period where greatest numbers of clergy abuses occurred.

80% of the complaints related to incidents between 1950 to 1989, with highest number peaking in the 1970s. The numbers sharply fell in the 1980 and 1990s after Pope John-Paul 2 came to power and dragged the church culture back to its orthodox roots.

1996 Archbishop George Pell was given the role of not merely replacing Archbishop Little but also cleaning up the messes that he left behind. Almost everything had to be fixed from the lack of any standard religious education in schools to the open rebellion against fundamental teachings of the religion by serving clergy. Coming into this environment was like sending a sheriff into a town that previously had no law. Hostility toward Archbishop Pell for taking a traditional stance was bound to make him more enemies than the timid Archbishop Little ever had.


It is interesting to note that the theological conflicts in the Australia were documented in several books written by Michael Gilchrist. The most famous book being: ‘Rome or the Bush’.

As described in the previous part, Archbishop Pell was instantly out of favour with the fashionable leftist, the media and rebels within his own church. Despite that fact that he was cleaning up the mess that was created when Archbishop Little was in charge Pell took the almost the entire brunt of the public rage against clergy abuse. Archbishop Dennis Hart succeeded George Pell as the archbishop of Melbourne. When called to a Victorian government run enquiry Archbishop Hart declared that:

Archbishop Little had covered up paedophile priests and moved them to other parishes where they would abuse again.

Retired Archbishop and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Sir Frank Little died in April 2008.

Why the media has largely ignored Little’s role in the abuse scandal and instead focused upon pursuing George Pell is telling.

Part 3 coming soon

Editorial Comment:

In the 1970s we had the peak of the sexual revolution. It was also the peak of the anti-orthodox decent in the Catholic Church and the peak of the paedophile scandal. I wonder if there is a causal relationship between them.

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