Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Cardinal Speaks: {And Dr Freud Was Listening}

Cardinal Pell and 'the deer in the headlights' look.

No Cover-up

+ Cardinal George Pell Archbishop of Sydney8/7/2008

I should preface my remarks by pointing out that I have a good record in dealing with sexual misbehaviour and was the first to set up diocesan protocols in Melbourne in 1996. There was no cover-up: The accusations against Father Goodall were investigated by the Church and the police, and Father Goodall was stood down. Church authorities fully cooperated at every stage. {All of the above is absolutely true except the cover up part, but in this case it's not the classical type of cover up. It's more of an uncover up}

The Jones case which was revealed on Lateline last night is unusual in a number of ways.

1) At the time of the incident with Father Goodall, Jones was 29 years of age. He was not a minor.

2) The case demonstrates how difficult it is to do justice to all parties. I accepted Howard Murray’s two basic recommendations (of January 2003)

a) that Father Goodall be assessed for suitability to continue acting as a priest. This was done and he was then stood down from priestly activity.

b) that the allegations of both complainants had been sustained and they be offered remedial assistance. However I differed from Murray, because I did not believe there was sufficient evidence of rape (where that was alleged.) {Except Mr. Jones never alleged rape or penetration, to either the criminal courts or the Church.}

3) The letter to Mr. Jones was badly worded and a mistake. I was attempting to inform him that there was no other allegations of rape and I overstated my agreement with Murray, who found all allegations sustained. I accepted all these findings, including the homosexual misbehaviour; but (I repeat) found evidence for rape insufficient. {This statement is in my opinion, the crux of this abuse case.}

4) The case is also unusual because it was taken up by the criminal courts after Mr. Jones was dissatisfied with Church findings. Goodall was convicted in court under the laws in vogue in 1982 which are now changed. There was never any allegation by prosecutors of rape. Goodall was sentenced until the rising of the Court and the Judge remarked publicly that his conviction would be unlikely under today’s law.

5) Church authorities are regularly updating their protocols. In July 2003 I approached retired Supreme Court Judge Bill Priestly to head an Advisory Board to me for cases of alleged sexual misconduct. That Committee is set up and continues today. Secondly I no longer rely only on in house advisers on legal matters and always now take outside legal advice as well. {He didn't rely on the advice of his sexual abuse board (called Towards Healing) as evidenced by the fact he acted against their recommendation with regards to Mr. Jones.}

6) Another unusual factor is that only 2 weeks ago Mr. Jones’ civil claims were resolved by mutual consent in the Supreme Court. My offer to provide help to Mr. Jones is still on the table. There was no attempt at a cover-up. Both sets of allegations against Father Goodall were followed to their conclusion.


The Cardinal has spoken and if we use a little left brained logic we can see truth in his statement. There was no classical cover up. The Church did cooperate with civil authorities and Father Goodall was removed from the active priesthood. He was subsequently jailed for his actions with Mr. Jones, and not for the abuse of the young boy in the second complaint. Had Mr. Jones not followed through on the civil criminal complaint, Fr. Goodall would in most probability still be out in the community, if not as an active priest. Kudos to Mr. Jones.

Towards Healing, of which Mr. Murray was the lay head, treated both abuse complaints against Fr. Goodall equally, recommending the same punitive action in both cases. Cardinal Pell chose to see them as distinctly different as one involved a child and one involved an adult. He chose to see Mr. Jones's case as a problem of 'homosexual misbehavior' rather than abuse, and subsequently decided not to affirm the allegation because in his words "he did not believe there was sufficient evidence of rape." There wouldn't have been, because rape was never a part of the allegation. Apparently Cardinal Pell defines rape as penetration, and the allegation from the young boy did not include penetration either, so the case of Mr. Jones in Pell's mind was never substantiated by another claimant. Except Mr. Jones did not claim rape, and what he did claim was substantiated by the other claimant.

It appears we have a situation where in Cardinal Pell's mind the same activity engaged in with a young boy is sexual abuse, but if it's done with an adult male it's 'homosexual misbehavior'. The use of this term implies some kind of consent on both parties and takes it from the realm of abuse to the realm of homosexual sin. It's quite obvious the criminal court did not see this behavior as 'homosexual misbehavior' but criminal sexual activity perpetrated by one person on another unwilling person. Towards Healing members saw this as abuse. Cardinal Pell unilaterally chose to see this incident differently and acted on his own assessment. He subsequently retracted this in another letter to Mr. Jones. A copy of that letter has not been posted or revealed at this time.

The two parties essentially settled their civil suit out of court because it became apparent to Mr. Jones and his legal advisor that proceeding with it would be useless. Mr. Jones, under Australian civil law, could only name Cardinal Pell and Fr. Goodall as defendants. He had no reasonable chance of getting a dime out of either of them as private citizens and not representatives of the Church. They settled, agreeing to pay their own court costs. This settlement was reached just a couple of weeks ago, so the timing of this press account can't really be seen as an attack on the Church just before WYD. I would imagine though, that Mr. Jones could give a rats ass about WYD.

The FACT that Cardinal Pell chose to see this case far differently than his lay board and the criminal courts when viewing the same objective evidence is most interesting. It seems to be a case of left brain thinking based in assumptions which were not universally shared by any other parties in this complaint. What other people saw as sexual abuse, Cardinal Pell saw as 'homosexual misbehavior'. Certainly not the same as sexual abuse, more along the lines of two immature queers having a 'bitchy' disagreement and misbehaving. Why would he come to this conclusion? Why define penetration as the end all and be all line of male adult abuse? He was so blinded with this thinking that it didn't even compute that Mr. Jones had never alleged rape.

Is this perhaps a symptom of the clerical world that Cardinal Pell lives in? A world in which 'homosexual misbehavior' only becomes a real issue when forcible rape is involved? Is this symptomatic of a clergy that has too many psycho sexually immature clerics that 'messing around' is the norm and only becomes an issue when the 'messing around' is taken to forcible rape? How else does one insist on seeing rape as the claim when it wasn't there in the first place.

One makes this kind of mistakes when they have lived with unexamined assumptions and these kinds of experiences for a long long time. Cardinal Pell may just have given the world a real insight into the hidden sexual life of the Roman Catholic clergy. But he also made another telling statement: that no bishop has to pay any attention to the advise of lay boards when the Bishop thinks he knows best or has greater insight into an issue. He is not accountable to anyone or anything except Rome. The trouble is in this particular case, Cardinal Pell's greater experience and insight blinded him to the basic facts of this case.

Which leads right back to Bishop Geoffrey Robinson. It really is about sex and power in the Church, and the clerical system and warped thinking the two issues coupled together have created. I find it fascinating that this case with Cardinal Pell is only one of three which involve the questionable pastoral handling of sex and power issues currently plaguing Catholic bishops in Australia. ( See Catholica Australia for more information on the other two.

Three is often seen as a powerful number, a trinity if you will, and in Australia it represents an unholy trinity unfolding just as WYD gets into gear. Maybe the Holy Spirit is trying to get the attention of young Catholics. Maybe the Spirit is trying to warn all these young believers that the elder generations have something important to say, and it has nothing to do with Latin Masses and cappa magnas. It's much more critical than that to the future life of the Church they love. It's about the real rotten energy which is affecting the mystical life of the Church. It's about the two issues the powers that be are teaching them to avoid--sex and clerical power.

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