Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pell: The Pastor Of Coins

Before heading off to become the Vatican's financial boss, Cardinal Pell had a few rough days explaining how he handled clerical abuse as Australia's clerical boss.  Not well.

I have been following the sexual abuse inquiry by Australia's Royal Commission for weeks.  It's been an eye opener, but nothing opened my eyes quite the way as did the testimony of Sydney's Cardinal Pell.  The Commission put Pell through two and a half days of questioning.  Days of questions for which Pell found all kinds of ways to pass the blame to subordinates, claim a faulty memory, and sometimes use a bizarre logic which seems part and parcel of a mind set removed from the reality of everyday life.  I guess that's not too surprising since Pell has reached the pinnacle of a reality that is by definition removed from much of everyday life, especially if one has chosen to make one's life mission ascending to the heights of that reality.  Cardinal Pell demonstrated in spades why clericalism, amongst some other trends,  will be the death of this Church.  Like many other failed pastoral leaders, he jetted out of Australia the very next day for a new position in Vatican City.  Vatican City, where the clerical heart beats strongest, and where he will become the Pastor of Coins.

The following excerpt is from the Australian blog Pearls and Irritations and was written by Chris Geraghty, a retired New South Wales district court judge.  Judge Geraghty watched the entire proceedings and his take is an honest expression of a Catholic truly saddened by what passed for Catholic pastoral leadership in a time of crisis for the Church of Australia.

"George Pell, Cardinal Archbishop, sat there day after day, an image of King Lear, a broken man, weary, slow and incompetent, a man who had spent his life climbing the greasy clerical pole, now at the tail-end of his life, being forced to answer questions and to confront his conscience, summoning hollow logic to assist in his defence, thrashing about blaming others, constructing academic distinctions, trying to exculpate himself and deflect the load which will inevitably be heaped upon him. His private secretary, Dr Casey, Mr John Davoren, the elderly man and ex-priest who used to be in charge of the healing service of the archdiocese, and Monsignor Brian Rayner, his former chancellor – all muddlers, all incompetent and unable to provide an accurate version of events, while he was macro-managing the show with his hands off the wheel. The board of any public company would have long since called for the resignation of its CEO.....

......As the days wore on and the archbishop grew tired, I began to understand a little of how the man’s brain worked. Slowly. Some confusions. Circles and dead-ends. Non sequiturs. Fending off blows, protecting himself. Appeals to trivial logic in the face of catastrophe. I could see how he came to be a man-made climate change denier, why over the years he had not given a lead on the many ethical and moral issues which were confronting our nation, why he had led the English-speaking world back to the old, fossilized and awkward formulae of the Mass, why he had not even mentioned the name of Father Ted Kennedy when he opened the Jesuit school for aborigines in Redfern, why he was unable to comprehend that his placement of Neo-Cats in Redfern had been a mistake and needed to be remedied, why he had not inspired his Sydney brethren to faith and action, why he had failed to engage the general community and had preferred to identify with the conservative, reactionary forces of times now past. He was dull. Colourless. Distant. Pugnacious. Yesterday’s man. Some might even say dumb. Now, for a few days, we were able to look behind the figure on the plinth, observing a king without his finery, seeing the man behind the frills and furbelows.  It was frightening to see how the system worked – and riveting.....

..... From his evidence, it was clear that Pell was desperate to regulate the outflow from the Church’s financial dam of assets. He wanted to remain in charge of the show. After all, the Roman Catholic Church was different – powerful, independent, international. A history going back centuries. Its own language, structures, legal system, customs and practices. Tax exemptions and immense political influence. She has always been treated as special.....

..... Pell exposed himself before the commission as the prize muddler par excellence. A tragic figure. I positioned myself at the back row of  les arenes,  and watched the commissioner and his cool, analytical counsel-assisting teasing the witness, delivering wounding blows at will, drawing blood, playing with their prey, delaying to the end  their final thrust into the very heart of an old bull already mortally wounded, standing beaten and defense-less in the centre of the ring.


Cardinal Pell managed to do a number of things while leading the Australian Church.  First he brought in a very conservative mindset and supported 'new lay movements' that had power and connections in Rome. Especially those lay movements with direct connections with the two previous popes. These included Opus Dei and the Neo Catechumenate.  Pell also led Vox Clara, the committee which over saw the new English translation of Roman Missal and which conveniently turned itself into a rubber stamp for blatant Vatican control of the translation.  On this front whatever Rome wanted Pell gave them. 

The second thing Pell managed to do was double the assets of the Sydney Archdiocese to some 1.2 billion dollars.  This was a pretty nifty trick given the general world economy during his tenure. One of the reasons for this increase in assets is directly attributable to the outcome of the Ellis case--the very case for which Cardinal Pell was called before the Royal Commission to testify.  The ruling in the Ellis case, which Pell took all the way to the Australian Supreme Court, determined neither the Roman Catholic Church in Australia nor it's Diocesan components were legal entities eligible to be sued in court.  In other words, under Australian law, the Roman Catholic Church did not exist as a legal entity and could not be sued.  Only individual bishops or priest perpetrators could be sued.  Ask Cardinal Mahony recently of the LA Archdiocese what that kind of ruling would have meant to the coffers of the LA Archdiocese....billions saved.  What that ruling meant for Australian victims was a kick in the teeth, but it ultimately resulted in the very Royal Commission which is now vindicating victims like John Ellis.  For an in depth look at the Ellis case and the reasons why Pell is no longer allowed to pastor people, but just coins, I suggest this article from the UK Guardian.  It's long, but well worth reading for the portrait of Pell the as the compassionless competitor who not only ran roughshod over Ellis, but had no scruples about throwing his subordinates and legal team under the landing wheels of his soon to leave for Rome plane.  

I do not think Pell's appointment to Rome as what amounts ot number three in the Vatican behind Pope Francis and Secretary of State Parolin has all that much to do with his personal business acumen as it does with his connections to Opus Dei and members of the Knights of Malta.  As Betty Clermont points out in her latest posting at Open Tabernacle, Pope Francis has appointed a lot of OD members or sympathizers to positions having to do with economic matters.  I sometimes wonder if the real 'work' of Opus Dei isn't using Roman Catholicism as the entry point and front for creating an new form of conservative global corporate oligarchy.  As long as the Holy See retains it's status as a Sovereign State, having all the rights and privileges  minus any obligations, it's an exceptional place from which to engage in global empire building of the hidden sort.  This is especially if true if one views the clergy as essentially a Trojan horse for access to governments and politicians.  In short, I'm not enthused about Pell's appointment.  I would have been more enthused if Pope Francis had appointed Cardinal Pell the Vatican Almoner and place the current Vatican Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski in Pell's position as overseer of papal assets.  Unfortunately, even in the Vatican money rules so Pell is where that rule says he should be....pastor of coins.


  1. Thanks, Colleen. Great article. I hadn't really been following Pell's testimony that closely. I read someone who opined that Pell proves that the top churchmen are atheists. Sounds about right to me.

  2. sylvesterpatsteffenApril 6, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    The RCC is "ontologically" invested in corporate consumption culture, especially since the de Medici Popes. Opus Dei is but another incarnation of commercial pietism. Seems like corruption to me. How is that like anything in the Good News Gospel of Jesus? As long as people keep flooding the imperial coffers with coins, I expect the hierarchs will justify their consciences and continue pietistically to cloth their minds and bodies in royal pomp.

  3. "The rules say that those abuses must be reported and examined and guilty priests punished."Except they weren't -- everywhere, by everyone. Including popes. Some rule. The rest of what you've written restates the same stuff.

    We have established that you believe in the "perfect church run by imperfect people" standard that maintains an inscrutable hierarchy. We have established that those who don't must be lying and therefore can't be trusted or even heeded. We have established that all other data is not worthy of your discussion unless a pope wrote it.

    Do you have anything else?

    And yes, those are the reasons you, and those like you, continue to allow a deceitful hierarchy to control the People of God. I remain faithful that the Holy Spirit is above that control. I remain hopeful for you. And that's what drives you now, because all of these are incomprehensible to you and must be corrected.

  4. *sigh*
    Hundreds of people rape and murder.

    This is not the same as the State teaching rape and murder.
    It is not the same as saying that "the Nation is perfect, people are imperfect".
    It does not mean that the State is "deceitful".

    It means (and nothing else) that the rules have been disobeyed. So, let's be realistic, and stop attacking the Church..?

  5. 1. My quote is above. It doesn't say any of that.

    2. I'm attacking the Church? The church is the people of God. I was attacked. Many other people of God were attacked. The majority of the attacks are by rogue priests bringing down the good name of those good priests called to serve the people of God. I'll defend the people of God against those men. If you think that's an attack, so be it.

    The men who could stop this are the bishops in charge. They did not. They continued the "ministry" of these rogue priests (documented) in new places. They cowed victims into silence and lawyered up when the silence was broken. Many of them remain in unchecked and unscrutinized power. I'll defend the people of God against that attack. If you think I'm the attacker, so be it.

    3. You have nothing else? You keep whacking the strawman of me attacking the church I've loved and forgiven. You can't answer the documented and cited facts of the situation. You've had two weeks to try.

    You stand exposed. Are we through here?

  6. Your article contains great contents. Its really informative for all of us.Thanks, Colleen. Great article.

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  7. Your quote was that the Church tells us it is so important for a priest to fulfill his Eucharistic function that we should cover it up if he is found be be abusing children. That was, and is, clearly bollocks, which is why I pushed you to back it up with evidence that that is indeed what the Church teaches us.

    You do not seem to have forgiven the Church.

  8. So when this happened in each and every diocese, by each and every bishop, when many of those bishops remain in power (not service, power), when no bishop has been held up as a model either by victims or by the hierarchy, when lies can be documented all the way to the papacy.....your response for two and a half weeks is "The Church doesn't teach that."

    We see that you won't see. We see you have nothing else. I have forgiven the Church, but I won't forgive and forget. People remain more important than ritual, just like Jesus says.

    We're done here, right? Unless you'd like to counter all of these reams of facts with anything besides "no it's not", because yes, it was and still is. Open your eyes.

  9. You didn't give any facts, through any of this. You've just made milder and wilder (unsubstantiated) claims about clerical abuse of children. Why, now you're saying that the problem occurred in every diocese and that every bishop failed to report a known case of sexual abuse of children. I mean, really. That is mad. You say all of the 5,000+ bishops have A) discovered sexual abuse of children in their diocese and B) covered it up?

    This is getting silly.

    It was weird enough when you were saying the Church taught us to cover it up. Now you're saying that not a single bishop has reported it. What-ever next, I wonder?

  10. Yes, unconquered, each time a grand jury forces a diocese to open its books, the bishop has been lying to the people. Some have been reported, but each and every time some more have not, The grand jury in Los Angeles documented this. So did Philadelphia. So did Sydney. Books and documentaries about Boston, Albuquerque, Ireland. Liars promoted, both conservative and liberal. Look it up. I do not make unsubstantiated claims. Stop calling me a liar.

    It is not silly or weird. It is not an argument where you try to win by twisting my words into a straw man you can knock down. It is my life in the Church, nowhere near unique and yes, in every diocese. Whatever next are the same facts you refuse to see, same thing for 2 1/2 weeks, so stop wondering and open your eyes.

    We're done here, right?

  11. Ok, So this blog post is by a "catholic mystic/psychic" and we are meant to take this seriously? Anyway, when I started reading it I thought there may be some substance to the litany of calumnious cynicism therein contained. But if a self proclaimed psychic also wants me to donate "between the pet food and the entertainment budget" for this drivel then I realise that it he is just as bad as those he criticises.