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After 4 Days of Interrogating Cardinal Pell what evidence does the Royal Commission have?

March 4, 2016

After 4 Days of Interrogating Cardinal Pell what evidence does the Royal Commission have?

I am still at loss as to what good the Royal Commissioners are trying gain out of grilling Cardinal Pell for 4 straight days in a row. I watched the live television casts waiting to see if any new evidence would be introduced to the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse. I am still waiting for that crucial bundle of paper or tape recording or key reliable witnesses who can corroborate a story that will take down the third highest ranking clergy in the Vatican. How great a scandal would it be for the Catholic Church to have one of its highest Princes taken down in the shame of secular institution like the Royal Commission? How many eager watches are waiting to see the Pell’s scalp hang from their belt?

The only problem with fantasy is the total lack of evidence.

Sitting in a hotel conference room, surrounded by journalists and victims of abuse Cardinal Pell has been subjected to the most intense cross examination and interrogation by the Commissioners. Some journalists are calling this a forensic investigation. I am yet to see anything forensic about the line of questioning. The question, especially from council assisting, was aggressive and dismissive of his statement. From time to time he was being told that his version of events was ‘incredulous’. It was as close as you can get to calling him a direct liar.

Referring to events and meeting minutes from over 40 years ago is a haphazard way of finding anything objective. At best you have a vague recollection from the people who attended these meetings. To go further and draw absolute negative judgments without corroborating evidence drags the commission down to level of guilt by insinuation. Regardless of how many allegations are made by people it is material evidence that matters. Trying to destroy the reputation of the witness without evidence seriously prejudices any investigation.

After 4 days of hard core questioning there is little of any substance coming out of it. Some of the questioning became farcical such as when Pell was asked if he considered that Priests were human. When Pell responded that certainly hoped so the assistant commissioner then claimed that being human Priests must therefore be engaging in idle gossip. I seriously doubt that the Commission would be able to draw such a conclusion if she was questioning a woman. The whole line of questioning was predicated on the most cynical view that being human directly translates to being corrupt.

Whether the Royal Commissioners choose to take Cardinal Pell’s evidence on face value or whether they have already taken a dislike to him it up for speculation. It is entirely possible that hardball style of questioning was to see if Pell would crack under pressure. However whatever the Commission does conclude will need to be supported with concrete evidence. So far innuendo and conflicting versions of events from an array of witnesses has failed to produce any so-called smoking gun.

No doubt there are people who are salivating at the prospect of taking down Cardinal Pell. Old enemies like gay rights activist David Marr took to the Fairfax News to pen his opinion piece telling the Royal Commission what questions to ask. Marr has considerable history of making slurs against Cardinal Pell’s reputation which culminated in him publishing a hatchet job in his essay called The Prince. Anti-religious atheist writer for Fairfax News, Peter FitzSimons claims without the slightest evidence that because the Cardinal is so smart Pell must have known about the abuses in Ballarat. This is a strange call from the likes of FitzSimons who repeatedly calls anyone who holds religious belief stupid. Comedian (if you can call him that) Tim Minchin recorded an abusive song about Cardinal Pell calling him ‘Scum’. Long-time critic of Pell’s conservatism and former Labour Premier of NSW Christine Keneally loves the song and its abusive tone. In a subsequent interview on Sky News Keneally says that Pell should be held responsible for the action of other people’s past crimes because his is in a senior position now. The channel 10 Project program played the song in entirety with all but one host delighted at its abusive choice of words. In 2010 Minchin provided entertainment for a USA run Atheism conference with a song called ‘F*** the Pope’. Change.org has been running a campaign called Sack Pell. The online clictivist campaign has been running for over a year and is yet to reach its target of 1000 clicks.

676 supporters. 324 needed to reach 1,000

The people in the paragraph above are at the polar extreme of Anti-Pell sentiment. Many like David Marr and Minchin are just bigots using scandal to give justification for their own empty rhetoric. Christine Keneally would probably describe herself as ‘Progressive Catholic’ and supports Gay Marriage. This can go for many other public criers. Making people wonder where genuine concern starts and their long held vendettas finish.

The question of Cardinal Pell appearing before the Royal Commission has been so emotionalized in the public debate that it is almost impossible to see any reference to objective evidence. Unfortunately for those on this emotional journey, the courts and Royal Commissions are bound by what can be proven with evidence.

Until such time as some objective evidence is tabled it would be a travesty of justice to issue the punishment.

Editorial Comment:


1954 Communist China, “People’s Court”

I can understand that this subject may be difficult for victims of child abuse. However I can see a wide range of third parties who are trying to appropriate their suffering as a vehicle for other agendas.

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