Tag Archives: Cardinal George Pell

Australian cardinal won’t fight sentence if he loses appeal

Australian cardinal won’t fight sentence if he loses appeal
By Trevor Marshallsea AP
https://cruxnow.com/church-in-oceania/2019/05/australian-cardinal-wont-fight-sentence-if-he-loses-appeal/

Disgraced Australian Catholic cardinal George Pell will not fight for a reduced jail sentence if he fails in his appeal of his conviction for molesting two choirboys in the 1990s, a court spokesman said Monday.

The 77-year-old Pell — the most senior Catholic official convicted of sex abuse — was sentenced in a Melbourne court in March to six years in prison. He must serve at least three years and eight months of the term.

Pell will appeal his conviction next month. His lawyers have filed an application arguing it should be overturned on three grounds.

But the application does not include an appeal of the length of the sentence, Andre Awadalla, a spokesman for the Court of Appeal in Victoria state, told the Associated Press.

“The only appeal application filed on the matter is an appeal against conviction,” Awadalla said. “His lawyers haven’t filed an appeal in relation to sentence.”

In sentencing Pell in March, Victorian County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd acknowledged that there was a real chance that Pope Francis’s former finance minister could die in jail.

Pell was convicted by a unanimous jury verdict in December on one charge of sexual penetration of a child and four charges of committing an indecent act with or in the presence of a child.

He was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old choirboy and sexually molesting his 13-year-old friend in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996, months after he became archbishop of the city. He molested the first boy again about a month later. One of his victims later died of a heroin overdose at the age of 31.

Pell’s appeal application is set down for hearing on June 5 and 6, with three judges to first decide whether he should be granted leave to appeal.

His legal team will first argue that the verdicts were “unreasonable” since the jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Pell was guilty based on the word of the surviving victim against “unchallenged exculpatory evidence” of more than 20 prosecution witnesses.

Pell’s lawyers are also expected to argue that Judge Kidd erred in not allowing them to use a video graphic in their closing arguments, which they said would demonstrate the offending that was alleged would have been impossible.

The third ground details an alleged “fundamental irregularity” in the trial in that Pell was not arraigned — asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty — in front of the chosen jury.

If the judges accept the first ground, Pell’s conviction will be overturned and he will be released.

A new trial could be ordered if they accept the second or third grounds.

While Pell remains Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, the Vatican has launched its own investigation into his convictions.

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups
By Nicole Winfield
https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/03/catholic-church-cardinals-implicated-in-sex-abuse-cover-ups/

The conviction of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report a known pedophile priest to police deepens the crisis confronting an already discredited Catholic Church hierarchy. The verdict handed down by magistrates Thursday shows the church’s once-untouchable “princes” increasingly are judged accountable for priests who abuse children and the superiors who allowed the abuse to continue.

After centuries of impunity, cardinals from Chile to Australia and points in between are facing justice in both the Vatican and government courts for their own sexual misdeeds or for having shielded abusers under their watch.

Here is a look at cases implicating Catholic cardinals, members of the exclusive club of prelates that advises the pope and eventually elects his successor.

Australia — Cardinal George Pell

In December, the Vatican’s former finance minister was convicted in his native Australia of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s.

Pell was convicted of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and his 13-year-old friend in 1996 and 1997, months after the 77-year-old cardinal became archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell has denied wrongdoing and planned to appeal. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Each of his five convictions carries a potential 10-year maximum sentence.

After his conviction, the Vatican said its sex crimes office had opened an investigation and confirmed the Sydney archbishop restricted Pell’s ministry after the cardinal returned to Australia to face trial.

United States — ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick 

Francis last month defrocked the onetime leader of the American church after an internal investigation determined McCarrick sexually molested children and adult men; some of the molestation took place during confession. It was the first time a cardinal had been defrocked over the scandal.

One of McCarrick’s victims has filed a police report and spoken to prosecutors in New York City, but it is unclear if any criminal charges can be brought given so much time has passed since the abuse occurred.

The McCarrick scandal has implicated high-ranking churchmen in both the United States and at the Vatican since it was apparently an open secret he slept with adult seminarians.

Chile — Cardinals Javier Errazuriz and Riccardo Ezzati 

The current and former archbishops of Santiago are under investigation by Chilean prosecutors for allegedly covering up for abusive priests.

Errazuriz, who retired as Santiago archbishop in 2010, was recently forced to resign from Francis’s kitchen cabinet after the depth of his cover-up was exposed last year.

His successor, Ezzati, was sued this week by a man who accused him of protecting a priest who allegedly drugged and raped him in the Santiago cathedral. The victim first filed a complaint with Ezzati in 2015. Ezzati issued a church sentence against the priest last year.

Prosecutors have overseen raids of church offices around the country. Ezzati and Errazuriz have so far refused to answer questions in the investigation.

Francis secured offers of resignation from every active Chilean bishop last year as part of Vatican efforts to clean up the Chilean church.

Scotland — Cardinal Keith O’Brien

O’Brien, once the highest-ranking Catholic leader in Britain, recused himself from the 2013 conclave that elected Francis pope after unidentified priests alleged in British newspaper reports that he acted inappropriately toward them.

The priests said they had complained to church authorities about O’Brien’s conduct but never received a response. None of the men were thought to have been minors when the alleged inappropriate behavior took place.

In 2015, Francis accepted O’Brien’s resignation after he relinquished the rights and privileges of being a cardinal. The decision was reached after the Vatican sent its top sex crimes investigator to Scotland to look into the allegations.

O’Brien was allowed to retain the title of cardinal and he died a cardinal in 2018.

Belgium — Cardinal Godfried Danneels

The retired head of Belgium’s Catholic Church has been under fire since 2010, when he was caught on tape suggesting that a victim of a serial predator bishop keep quiet until the man retired.

Two weeks after Danneels met with the victim, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned and expressed sorrow for having long abused his nephew, both as a priest and after becoming a bishop.

Danneels had told the victim it would do him no good going public, and he urged him to forgive his uncle.

Francis has been criticized for having included Danneels, considered a key supporter in his 2013 election, in important church meetings since the scandal.

United States — Cardinal Bernard Law

Law resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 following revelations he hid clergy abuse involving dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, the scandal chronicled by the Boston Globe that led to the reckoning in the U.S. church.

More than any other prelate, he epitomized the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

St. John Paul II’s decision to promote Law to head St. Mary Major basilica in 2004 reinforced the impression the Vatican still hadn’t grasped the scale of the child abuse problem, the trauma it caused its victims, and the moral credibility the church had lost as a result.

At Law’s Vatican funeral last year, Francis prayed for a merciful final judgment.

Austria — Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer

Groer was allowed to retire on schedule as archbishop of Vienna in 1995 despite multiple allegations he sexually abused young boys at a seminary. He died in 2003 without ever facing civil or canonical justice.

His successor as Vienna archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in 2010 accused the Vatican secretary of state at the time of the scandal, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of being behind a cover-up and blocking a Vatican investigation of Groer’s crimes.

The same year, the Vatican gave Schoenborn a rare dressing down for his comments about Sodano, reminding him that only the pope can level accusations against a cardinal.

Vatican — Cardinal Angelo Sodano

As the powerful Vatican secretary of state under John Paul, Sodano has long been held in part responsible for the Vatican’s refusal to take action against pedophile priests.

More than anyone, he has been blamed for blocking a church investigation into the 20th century Catholic Church’s most notorious predator, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order.

Francis recently referred to how then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – the future Pope Benedict XVI – initially failed to secure a sanction against Maciel, a veiled reference to the weight Cardinal Sodano wielded on the decisions of Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“He (Ratzinger) went with all his files. And when he returned he told his secretary, ‘Put them in the archive. The other side won,’” Francis said. “But then, once he became pope, the first thing he said was ‘Bring me the files from the archive,’ and he started.”

Eventually, the Vatican under Benedict sanctioned Maciel to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his crimes.

Study identifies 16 child sex abuse rings in Victorian Catholic Church

Study identifies 16 child sex abuse rings in Victorian Catholic Church
By Debbie Cuthbbertson February 23, 2020
https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/study-identifies-16-child-sex-abuse-rings-in-victorian-catholic-church-20200215-p54158.html

Pedophile and Pedophile Pimp Cardinal George Pell

A three-year research project into paedophile Catholic clerics in Victoria has identified 16 child sex abuse networks operating over six decades involving 99 priests and Christian Brothers.

The investigation found that clergy paedophile rings shared patterns of behaviour with criminal gangs, the Mafia, terrorist cells, corrupt police, drug dealers, money launderers and price-fixing cartels.

The research showed their abuse was facilitated and reinforced by church hierarchy, including five successive archbishops of Melbourne from Daniel Mannix, appointed in 1917, through to George Pell (himself appealing against a conviction for child sex abuse) in 2001.

The researcher, Sally Muytjens, spent more than three years investigating “dark networks” of paedophile clergy in Victorian dioceses. She published the research late last year, receiving a doctorate from Queensland University of Technology.

Muytjens’ research found the largest and most active dark networks were at schools including St Alipius in Ballarat and Salesian College, Rupertswood, and orphanages including St Vincent de Paul’s in South Melbourne and St Augustine’s in Geelong.

One of the worst offenders, convicted paedophile and former Christian Brother Edward “Ted” Dowlan, was active in five of the 16 dark networks, she found.

Her study also identified Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer as a member of two paedophile networks. The Sunday Age last week revealed that Elmer taught at Catholic schools in regional Victoria and Africa for decades after his order first knew he had abused children at a Melbourne orphanage.

In her thesis, Muytjens used a research method called social network analysis, which can reveal hidden patterns and ties between members of groups and provide insights into how they operate.

Using SNA enabled her to identify connections between clergy perpetrators and specific locations in Victoria from 1939 until 2000, unearthing what she described as a pervasive “sexual underworld” that had the potential to destroy Victorian dioceses.

Elsewhere, SNA has been used to map links between terror cells involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks and 2005 London bombings, and to track child sex trafficking networks in Britain, Italian money-laundering rackets and an Australian amphetamine trafficking ring.

It has also been employed to track the spread of contagious diseases, as well as population displacement after natural disasters.

Muytjens also drew on material from the Victorian parliamentary inquiry and the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, victims’ advocacy group Broken Rites and media coverage of criminal trials involving clergy, to map links between clergy child sex abusers in Victoria over six decades.

Her thesis examined the responses of the Catholic Church to such criminal activity, describing the institution as a “grey network” that repeatedly facilitated abuse.

“One of these patterns was promoting known clergy perpetrators of child sex abuse to senior positions which not only provided further access to victims but also placed them in positions where they were better able to protect the dark network from exposure,” she wrote.

The code of silence among Catholic clergy in Victoria mirrored patterns of behaviour exhibited by groups including crooked police and the Mafia, Muytjens added, and that “extended to a refusal to give evidence to the police”. “Similar methods were utilised by clergy perpetrator networks within the Victorian Catholic Church to maintain silence.”

Documented clusters of paedophile clergy, including at St Alipius Boys’ School in Ballarat in the 1970s, showed they were “conducting illicit activity in an organised and co-operative way”,  Muytjens wrote.

Dowlan and notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale both had multiple convictions for sexually abusing children, including at St Alipius. Another four clergymen were each part of least two different clusters of abusers at different times, Muytjens found.

“Some [clergy] committed child sex abuse at institutions where they were the only known dark network actor … [but] they were also transferred to parishes where there were clusters of other known clergy perpetrators.

“These perpetrators were part of multiple clusters at different times … As [Ridsdale and Dowlan] were prolific perpetrators, it can be reasonably argued that [they] were transferred out of clusters when subject to complaints of child sex abuse but were returned to clusters where they could be better supported and protected through stronger ties.

“Fr Ridsdale and Br Dowlan’s movement between clusters … [and] the number of convictions for these two clergy perpetrators demonstrates the unfettered access they had to child victims.”

The church’s pattern of response to complaints of child sex abuse by its clerics functioned as a resource for the paedophile rings, Muytjens found.

“Members of the sexual underworld support one another in seeking positions of responsibility by praising one another and condemning any critics … this sexual underworld is so pervasive that acknowledging and addressing this may destroy a Diocese,” she wrote.

Drawing on research from around the world into child sex abuse by Catholic clerics, she said the data showed that “clergy perpetrators … were placed in roles of recruiting boys to the priesthood”.

Muytjens’ thesis was completed around the same time as an investigation by The Age revealed that clusters of paedophile priests in Victoria worked together to sexually abuse children, including at Melbourne’s Corpus Christi seminary.

Her research was supervised by UTQ School of Justice criminologists Dr Jodi Death and Associate Professor Mark Lauchs. Lauchs’ research has focused on organised crime and corruption, while Death has also mapped paedophile networks of Catholic clergy, including among the Christian Brothers in Western Australia.

Associate Professor David Bright, a criminologist and clinical psychologist who has worked with convicted sex offenders, has used social network analysis extensively in his research, mainly in relation to drug trafficking and terrorism.

He said SNA was an effective tool for displaying links between overlapping abusers in the church: “The clustering that Sally found, it’s quite persuasive in that what it’s suggesting is that there were clusters of offenders in institutions and that this is the case more so in some than others.

“It strikes me that either these individuals were incredibly good at manipulating the system to be at the same facility … or the system was just so negligent about this and turned such a blind eye and was so convinced that these things weren’t going on that it just allowed it to continue.”

The Christian Brothers Oceania Province and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne were approached for comment on Muytjens’ findings.

“The Christian Brothers co-operated fully with both the royal commission and the Victorian parliamentary inquiry which undertook exhaustive work into the failures of our institution and countless others that enabled the tragic and unacceptable abuse of children and how such abuse was not properly responded to … we reiterate our enduring apology to those who have been harmed as a result,” said a spokesman.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said: “The issue of historical sexual abuse, across all institutions including the Catholic Church, has been extensively and comprehensively documented in the Victorian parliamentary inquiry and the royal commission. The recommendations from these inquiries, coupled with ongoing institutional reform, have helped bring justice and more effective redress for victims.

“Whilst we believe our parishes and schools are safer than ever, we remain vigilant and committed to ensure our practices, processes and policies deliver a safe environment for everyone.”

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.