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13 April 2013


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I'm afraid that at least one of the Cardinals appointed by Francis is a disappointment. Pell, the Australian Cardinal, is a very nasty piece of work. You won't get any "reform" out of him. He has systematically opposed any meaningful engagement with the question of Catholic Church child abuse forever.

"Cardinal Pell was also under fire at the inquiry from the parents of two children abused by a priest, who said he showed a "sociopathic lack of empathy" for their plight.

At yesterday's hearings the Committee heard from the parents and sister of Emma and Katie Foster.

Both girls were in primary school when they were raped by their parish priest.

Emma Foster later committed suicide.

Anthony Foster spoke of a mediation meeting with George Pell - then the Archbishop of Melbourne.

He told the inquiry the discussion was "gruelling and unpleasant".

"In our interactions with the now Cardinal Archbishop Pell, we experienced a sociopathic lack of empathy, typifying the attitude and responses of the church hierarchy," he said.

The Victorian inquiry's hearings continue on Monday."


Then of course he relies on legal niceties:

"I then read this article published in On Line Opinion earlier this year, in which the author explains why in NSW the Catholic Church cannot be sued when its priests sexually abuse children:

Put simply (as Cardinal Pell would no doubt argue), the situation is that when a Catholic priest commits sexual abuse, it does not happen in the Catholic Church because there is no such thing. It happens instead in one of its unincorporated parts and therefore responsibility for its rests totally on members of that part, especially the perpetrator and those responsible for appointing or supervising him. That is to say, responsibility is completely limited to the parish, school, hospital or whatever is the unincorporated part in which it occurred.

As the trustees merely own the property within which the abuse occurred and have no responsibility whatsoever for appointing or supervising the perpetrator, they cannot be held responsible for the abuse he committed. Of course, victims are perfectly free to sue the perpetrator or the unincorporated part but they have no assets (the Trust has them all and anyway priests take a vow of poverty) so there is nothing to be gained by it.

It seems that where sexual abuse of children is concerned in NSW, the Catholic Church has two parts: one that does the damage and one that owns the wealth…"


"Statement from Cardinal George Pell

From: The Australian
November 04, 2011 12:00AM

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RESPONSE to "Child abuse ruling ups pressure for legal reform" - by Ean Higgins The Australian 24/10/11.

Church parties accept their responsibility when victims of abuse seek damages through legal proceedings and when liability or potential liability is clear. Indeed I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that various Church agencies or officials in Australia have ever avoided paying damages awarded against them.

More importantly, it is the Church's strong preference for proceedings to be settled when liability is clear, rather than requiring victims to litigate matters in the courts to final judgement, and so pay expensive lawyers.

On 24 October 2011, the Australian published a story repeating the inaccurate and fanciful claims of plaintiffs' lawyers and NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge that Catholic parties cannot be sued by victims of sexual abuse.
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This claim is absurd and mischievous and has no basis in fact. Church officials and entities that are responsible for abuse in the Church, either directly or by their negligence, can be (and are) sued. The Catholic Church does not seek to shift legal responsibility where the Catholic party sued faces liability.

The judgement of Justice Hoeben of the NSW Supreme Court on 19 October 2011 concerned a case brought by victims of Patrician brother Edward Grealy for crimes he committed as a teacher in a Catholic school in Sydney. Various Patrician Brother parties, who remain defendants in the case, have admitted that the Patrician Brothers appointed brothers to the school (and this would include Br Grealy) and that the Patrician brother principal had responsibility for the day-to-day management of the school.

Despite this, lawyers for the victims attempted to join the property trust of the Archdiocese of Sydney to the case. While title to the property where the school is located was held by that property trust at the relevant time, the evidence showed clearly that the property trust played no part in running the school or employing and supervising teachers and particularly that the property trust did not appoint or supervise Br Grealy.

The Archdiocese of Sydney always tries to assist in identifying the church party or entity which may have had responsibility in any particular case. In this case, lawyers for the victims were told repeatedly that the property trust was not the responsible entity, but for reasons unknown they continued on this course.

The Supreme Court's decision stands for nothing more than the common sense proposition that you cannot be liable for the wrongs of others unless you are directly or indirectly responsible for supervising their conduct. In this case, some responsibility may lie with the Patrician brothers who appointed and supervised Grealy, and this is a matter which will be determined by the Supreme Court. Certainly responsibility does not lie with the property trust of the Archdiocese of Sydney, which had nothing to do with running the school.

Unfortunately the story failed to mention this basic fact, or to explain that various Patrician brothers defendants continue to be defendants in this case. This left the false impression that there is no one for Grealy's victims to sue.

The Catholic Church is not like a corporation with one basic structure for all its activities. It is a large and diverse community consisting of individuals, unincorporated associations and different legal entities. There are parishes, religious orders, lay associations and many different groups providing services in education, health and welfare. There is a wide variety of structures each with their own areas of activity and responsibility.

Given the complexity and variety of church organizations, it is important to ensure that individuals or entities responsible for the operation and control of church activities are accurately and clearly identified. This is essential to investigating claims of abuse and to responding to civil action in the courts.

It is no service to victims of abuse for lawyers to suggest that they sue parties which had no involvement with the appointment and supervision of the perpetrator of abuse or any responsibility for the circumstances in which the abuse occurred.

The Supreme Court decision was not about avoiding liability. Instead, it simply concluded that as a matter of fact the property trust of the Archdiocese of Sydney had no involvement in conducting the school or Catholic schools generally. The judge found that the plaintiffs' case against the property trust was not even arguable indeed it was said to be hopeless.

While the Trustees are no longer a party to these proceedings, Grealy and various Patrician brothers parties remain defendants, and the Patrician brothers have admitted that the principal, a Patrician brother, had responsibility for the day-to-day conduct of the school.

Whatever the legal position may be in any particular case, the Church acknowledges its moral responsibility to address legitimate claims of abuse and to ensure victims of sexual abuse are treated justly and at all times with compassion and respect. This is an obligation which the dioceses and religious orders take most seriously. Church authorities regularly pay for counselling for victims.

Fulfilling this obligation is not helped by misinformation about the facts from MPs and plaintiff lawyers.

Cardinal George Pell
Archbishop of Sydney
3 November 2011"



O'Malley (Cardinal Sean to most members of the 300 parishes in Boston) is a good man and will make a great Councillor to Francis.

He has not posted this latest news on his blog yet. Here is one from the day before the announcement after his return from a pilgimage.


Edward Amame

It's clear now that the calls to unconsolidate the controls the Vatican hierarchy consolidated during the John Paul II - Benedict XVI era have come from the Cardinals themselves, and probably as a direct result of how the sex abuse scandals were extravagantly mishandled by the Vatican hierarchy. I'd be pretty surprised if their idea of reform included turning over clerical molesters to local cops, though.

Medicine Man

Sorry for the late comment, Col. This is an interesting read of the tea-leaves though. I wonder if the new Pope's intention is to re-distribute authority from the Holy See to the local Bishops?

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