Cardinal Pell is Australia’s most prominent Catholic. Since this book was published in May 2017, Cardinal Pell has returned to Australia to face (and to fight) multiple charges of historical sexual assault offences. He faced the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 26 July for a filing hearing.
I approached this book with some trepidation: I’ve read several accounts about the horrific sexual abuse suffered by children and about the effects of this abuse on those children (and their families). I’ve also read about how some of the priests were moved between parishes, thus allowing for even more children to be abused. I cannot begin to understand how the church hierarchy permitted this. And, perhaps, this is why I decided to read Ms Milligan’s book. Cardinal Pell has claimed that he was the ‘first in the world’ to introduce a sexual abuse protocol, and also claims to have not known about the abuse going on around him.
Ms Milligan certainly covers, in detail, the rise of George Pell. But I think that any talk about his fall is premature. He is after all, still a Cardinal. And he has not yet been found guilty of anything.
But I cannot warm to Cardinal Pell. I would expect a practicing Christian to demonstrate empathy for victims of abuse well ahead of any concern about legal cases, costs and consequences. I would expect a member of the clergy to want to protect the vulnerable, to be attuned to signs of distress, to investigate as to the cause(s) and act. I would not expect to read the following exchange between Gail Furness, SC and George Pell at a hearing of the Royal Commission in March 2016:
‘There is a reference in that paragraph to Father Searson stabbing to death a bird in front of the children.’ To which George Pell replied: ‘I don’t know whether the bird was already dead.’
I froze. Why on earth would it matter whether the bird was already dead? Surely, in this context, it is the behaviour of Father Searson in front of the children which is most important? What does this response say about Cardinal Pell?
I don’t want to write more about the contents of the book– the story is not yet complete – there is a court case pending. This book is uncomfortable and unsettling, but worth reading.
This book deals with blighted lives - lives of great promise the innocence of which as little children they had abusively taken by paedophile priests and others. Here in Australia.
This account however deals with one state - Victoria - with ripples centered on beautiful Ballarat - and the heartless enforcer and priest George Pell. Louise Milligan gives the reader chapter and verse - and names the man's right wing media supporters - to a man and woman the usual suspects. There are many people not abused within an institution but in other contexts feeling their privacy intruded upon as it appears has been done by Pell in swimming pools and change-rooms.
One prays that now Pell has proved that his medical problems have been overcome - that he will shortly be flying home to Australia from The Vatican to meet his due judgement here in front of those he has so badly affected.
The death of Mr foster in recent days adds another twist in this tale and reveals that the disease of historical child abuse in the catholic church in Australia is deadly and needs to be eradicated asap.
What happened in Australia on Pell's watch and before was exactly what happened all over the world. Protection of the mother church was always the priority. No-one within the church hierarchy really cared about the abused children and they still dont
What a difficult book to read for a (now lapsed) catholic. Well written, forensic in its approach and detailed research. I believed that Pell wasn’t stupid enough to do what his trial said he did. Now I’m not so sure. He seems to be a deeply flawed man, as are most religious fanatics. I’m not so sure now. My complements to the Author. A must read.
This book is based on outstanding research. It shines an exceptionally bright light on the shocking failings of the Catholic Church in Australia and particularly in Victoria. The horrific issue of paedophilia and the decades of cover-up by the senior hierarchy are exposed in Louise Milligan's brilliant work. Her book has also helped me understand how George Pell rose through the ranks to become a Cardinal. This was previously a mystery to me.
Heartbreaking, detailed, research which confronts the reader. This is a strong book, hard to read in places but worth a second or third read for any one who loves and protects children. Some pages will anger you. And rightly so.
An amazing, ballsy job by the author to facilitate the survivors telling their truths. I applaud those that have come forward and had the courage to speak up, it is the only way change will be realised. The obfuscation and avoidance of the truth by Pell and the Catholic Church is shameful.
A very interesting book, Pell may never be charged for the crimes he has committed, but we live in hope. This book provides evidence and information about the terrible abuse that the Catholic Church tried to cover up. It's sad to read, but still worth it.