Benedict XVI: On eve of WYD Papal visit, Cardinal Pell's pathetic excuses prompt resignation calls Print E-mail

The Age ~~ Melbourne ~~ Friday July 11 2008

Pell stands discredited. His failure is one of understanding

By Muriel Porter, author of  Sex, Power and the Clergy Hardie Grant Books, 2003 

Scroll down for the tidal wave of criticism of Cardinal George Pell, a close associate of Benedict XVI. following exposure on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Lateline of Pell's direct role in covering-up evidence/denying victim justice following sexual abuse/attempted rape by a Sydney priest

AS THE controversy deepens over Cardinal George Pell's handling of a sexual abuse case, comparisons are inevitably being drawn with the situation faced by former Anglican Archbishop Peter Hollingworth in 2003.

Under sustained public pressure, Dr Hollingworth was forced to step down as governor-general over his mishandling of sexual abuse complaints when he was Archbishop of Brisbane. In particular, he had been criticised for his response to a decades-old case involving the abuse by a priest of a schoolgirl in his care.

Now Pell is facing calls to resign, within days of the Pope's arrival in Australia for World Youth Day. The current controversy for Pell concerns an adult man indecently assaulted by a Catholic priest, since removed from the priesthood. In the matter that helped trip up Hollingworth, the priest had gone on to become a bishop, still licensed to officiate in the church in his retirement despite the complaints of his victim. Hollingworth, as Archbishop of Brisbane, had failed to remove that licence.

The similarities between the cases come down to a seeming lack of understanding of the nature of abuse on the part of these two church leaders. Hollingworth was criticised when he hinted that the schoolgirl had initiated the relationship with the priest. Pell has similarly courted anger because he decided that the abuse was a consensual act. In coming to this view, he ignored the contrary advice of the church's own investigator.

This may explain why Pell insisted in a letter to the victim, Anthony Jones, that there were no other complaints of sexual assault against Father Terence Goodall ­ even though on the same day he wrote to another victim of assault by the same priest.

Neil Mitchell summed up the situation on 3AW yesterday, when he repeated several times that Pell "just doesn't get it".

Pell's comments in a television interview on Wednesday night corroborate that assessment. He spoke of taking the view that the act was consensual because of the circumstances. "There was a candlelight dinner, they swam together, they were sitting on the bed together," he said. "It was because of the circumstances as explained that I took that view …"

Similarly, Hollingworth was seemingly confused about the abusive nature of the case involving Bishop Donald Shearman, because the relationship between the schoolgirl and her abuser continued for many years.

As Anthony Jones has explained, he initially tolerated Goodall's abuse because of his respect for the clergy. Had it been anyone else but a man of the cloth, he probably would have hit him, he is quoted as saying. That is what is central to the issue of clergy sexual abuse, and what makes it different in kind to that perpetrated by other people in positions of power and influence over their victims.

Clergy, particularly in the Catholic Church, have traditionally been exalted as representatives not just of the church, but of God. For devout believers, particularly in earlier generations, they were untouchable. Abusive clergy often deliberately misused their status as holy men. Claiming "God wants us to have this relationship" was typical of their abuse technique.

Some commentators have described this as "soul stealing", because many victims are so scarred by clergy abuse that they lose their Christian faith as well as the other damage they have suffered. People who are particularly vulnerable, either because of their age, personality or personal situation, find it spiritually almost impossible to reject the sexual advances of people they hold in such awe.

Until the abuse crisis hit the Christian churches in the mid-1990s, most church leaders held views similar to those of Pell. If there seemed to be any element of the abuse that suggested consent, they assumed it was indeed consensual. They fundamentally misunderstood the significant power imbalance between clergy and victim.

But by the 21st century, there was no longer any excuse. The evidence of the nature of clergy abuse was laid out for all to see. Pell, like Hollingworth, should have understood the sexual and spiritual dynamics at work. That it seems he did not, even while he was developing church protocols for dealing with the crisis, is deeply disturbing.

This is perhaps the gravest condemnation he now faces, above and beyond the issue of the two conflicting letters he signed on the same day.

Just recently, a retired Sydney Catholic bishop, Geoffrey Robinson, has tried to point out the danger the church is in because of the failure of its leadership to understand the reality before their eyes. A former director of the church's processes for handling sexual abuse complaints, he is deeply disturbed by the church's refusal to deal honestly with the issue instead of managing it superficially to avoid public scandal.

But Robinson has been ignored and pilloried by the church hierarchy, evidently unable to hear authentic, constructive criticism. Now, on the eve of the Pope's visit, misguided management has itself led to scandal. George Pell stands discredited. Worse, any apology the Pope makes to abuse victims while he is here may similarly be discredited.

It is unlikely the leader of Australia's largest Christian denomination will stand down from office. But the damage done this week would take much more than that to be redeemed.

Dr Muriel Porter is the author of Sex, Power and the Clergy (Hardie Grant Books, 2003).
Sydney Morning Herald ~~ Friday July 11 2008

Church agrees to review claim of sexual abuse

By Joel Gibson and Erik Jensen

George Pell … on the defensive (Peter Morris)

THE Catholic Church agreed last night to reopen the case of an alleged sexual assault by a Sydney priest - two days after Cardinal George Pell admitted he had made mistakes in dealing with the allegation.

The investigation will examine claims that Anthony Jones was sexually assaulted by Father Terence Goodall in 1982, with new evidence suggesting the priest admitted to the attack despite a letter in which Cardinal Pell said it had been categorically denied.

"Although the complaints of Mr Anthony Jones have been dealt with by the church, the criminal court and the civil court, out of consideration for Mr Jones, Cardinal George Pell has formally referred the matters raised this week to an independent consultative panel established under Towards Healing protocols," a statement from the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney said.

"The panel, which is chaired by retired NSW Supreme Court judge Bill Priestley, QC, has been asked to advise Cardinal Pell on the options open to him. It consists of prominent lay people … as well as a senior priest."

The investigation comes after a civil action last month, settled on condition Mr Jones would not seek compensation and would remain silent - the latter clause removed before it was signed.

Last night the Greens senator Christine Milne called on Cardinal Pell to consider resigning before World Youth Day.

"I think he should reflect on whether he is putting his own aspirations ahead of the church," she told the Herald.

"By holding on, the Pope is going to be flying into Sydney with the host cardinal in the middle of a scandal."

But the Liberal frontbencher and prominent Catholic Tony Abbott defended the cardinal yesterday, saying he had "a pretty good record" on conduct in the church.

Mr Jones has become the face of hundreds of abuse victims who want to use next week's papal visit to seek an apology from the Pope and expose what they say is the church's insensitive handling of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Pell has said he rejected Mr Jones's claim of sexual assault against Father Goodall because the priest told him in a private conversation that the encounter, in a Gymea presbytery in 1982, was consensual.

But he said he might reconsider after being told of a taped phone conversation in which Father Goodall said he had not claimed consent and apologised to Mr Jones.

Mr Jones said he remained "somewhat cynical" about whether Cardinal Pell would reconsider his position. The disability pensioner, who lives near Lismore, would not say how much compensation he was seeking.

"For me it's about justice, about a very sincere apology that they haven't been truthful."

Meanwhile, a barrister representing another clergy abuse victim, John Ellis, said Cardinal Pell and the church continued to show "absolute contempt" for his client and others.

Mr Ellis, a former partner at the law firm Baker & McKenzie, unsuccessfully sued the church for being abused from the ages of 13 to 18 by Father Aidan Duggan at Bass Hill.

Andrew Morrison, SC, said Mr Ellis had lost his high-paying job because of the legacy of the abuse and was now in financial and psychological limbo because the church would not say whether it intended to bankrupt him with an adverse costs order of more than $500,000.

Sydney Morning Herald ~~ Thursday July 10 2008

Editorial: No excuse for innocent errors

IT IS difficult to understand Cardinal George Pell's inept handling of allegations of child sexual abuse against Sydney priest Father Terence Goodall. It reflects badly not only on the archbishop but on the entire Catholic Church. The reform of the clergy must be founded on compassion and care for the victims of abuse. After all this time, the Catholic Church still does not seem to get it.

The latest furore can be dated from 2003. In January of that year, Cardinal Pell received an independent investigator's report supporting claims by two men that they had been assaulted many years earlier by Father Goodall. On February 14, Cardinal Pell wrote to one victim accepting his claim. On the same day, however, he wrote to the other victim - Anthony Jones, of Lismore - saying his claim could not be substantiated because no other victims had been found. Cardinal Pell now concedes his letter rejecting Mr Jones's claim was "badly worded and a mistake", an "overstatement" and an "innocent error".

It was an error the cardinal might have set right a few months later when he received another report alleging more abuse by Father Goodall, including the rape of a 16-year-old-girl. But Cardinal Pell did not communicate any of that to Mr Jones. Cardinal Pell denies any deliberate cover-up, but that is likely to be of no comfort to Mr Jones, who says the cardinal's handling of the case has destroyed his religious faith.

Complaints of sexual abuse by clergy should be handled with sensitivity for the still-raw emotions of the victims, and with uncompromising administrative rigour. There should be no room for mistakes and overstatements, however innocent. For too long the Catholic Church hid from the problem of sexual abuse, moving accused clergy from parish to parish, and school to school, hoping the problem would somehow go away. The church's Towards Healing program, first implemented in 1996, was supposed to be its way to acknowledge past wrongs and compensate victims. Yet the Anthony Jones case - revealed only now by the ABC's Lateline program - raises serious questions about the quality of the justice being done behind closed doors.

Asked if the Anthony Jones controversy was an embarrassment on the eve of the Pope's visit next week for World Youth Day, Cardinal Pell prayed that it would be over by then. Perhaps. However, the wider issue of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy clearly has a long time to run.


The Age ~~ Melbourne ~~ Wednesday July 9 2008

Cardinal's conduct holds bitter lesson for abuse victims


CARDINAL George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, is about to play host to the Pope and an estimated 25,000 young Catholics from around the world. It can be assumed that yet another scandal about clerical sexual abuse is not the kind of advance publicity he would have been hoping for. The controversy in which he is now embroiled, however, appears to be of his own making ­ even if the accusations of dishonesty that have been levelled against him are set aside. To many critics, inside and outside the church, of the way the Catholic hierarchy has dealt with the sexual-abuse crisis, the lesson will be that Australia's most senior Catholic cleric has learned nothing.

In 1982, Anthony Jones, then 29 and working in religious education, was assaulted by a Sydney Catholic priest, Terrance Goodall. Twenty years later he lodged a formal complaint with the church, and the matter was investigated by a former policeman, Howard Murray, who recommended that the allegations in the complaint be sustained without qualification. Mr Murray also investigated another complaint against Goodall, by a man who was an 11-year-old altar boy at the time of the assault. In 2005 Goodall was convicted of indecently assaulting Mr Jones under a law dating from the time of the incident, when homosexual acts were still illegal in NSW.

In a letter to Mr Jones, however, Cardinal Pell told him his allegation was not being upheld by the church because no other complaint had been received about Goodall. On the same day, he also wrote to the other man who had complained about the priest. The cardinal now says that his letter to Mr Jones was a mistake, because he had believed that aggravated sexual assault was synonymous with rape. The letter was "poorly put", he maintains, because he was attempting to inform Mr Jones that there had been no other allegation of rape.

In an ABC interview on Monday Mr Jones accused Cardinal Pell of misrepresenting the truth. "He had to know that there were other complaints because he wrote to the man who as an 11-year-old boy was assaulted by Father Goodall on the same day. His signatures are on the letters, so he had to know."

Whether or not Cardinal Pell's explanation of his response to Mr Jones' complaint is disingenuous, however, it is undeniable that he has at least grossly mishandled the matter. The cardinal did receive Mr Murray's report on the complaints against Goodall, and shortly after signed letters to two complainants on the same day. What would be said about a senior officer of the Attorney-General's Department or the Department of Human Services who, after responding to two victims of sexual assault, later admitted that he had misunderstood the term "aggravated sexual assault", and who appeared to have forgotten about one of the victims when writing to the other? There would be a public outcry, with demands for the officer's dismissal. Some of those making such demands might even be prominent church leaders.

Cardinal Pell is not going to resign or be sacked as a result of his handling of Mr Jones' complaint. But if Pope Benedict does apologise to the victims of clerical sexual abuse during his visit to Sydney, as many within the church have been urging him to do, the apology will have a hollow ring ­ not because of any insincerity on the Pope's part, but because the practice of senior clerics still does not reflect sufficient understanding of, and compassion for, the plight of victims.

Even if there was no deliberate misrepresentation of the truth on Cardinal Pell's part, the implicit message in his letter to Mr Jones and his subsequent defences of it is that sexual abuse by those who have the pastoral care of others is a problem to be managed, in order to minimise damage to the church though bad publicity. The bitter irony, of course, is that such attitudes generate even worse publicity, as has now happened in the case of Mr Jones.

And it is not the only bad publicity the church must contend with in the lead-up to World Youth Day. Changes in the law in NSW will allow police to arrest and fine anyone deemed to be causing "annoyance or inconvenience" to those attending World Youth Day events. In effect, this gives police broad powers to prevent even peaceful protests. It is a shameful infringement of free speech, and Cardinal Pell ought to have advised the NSW Government that the laws are unnecessary. In the wake of the revelations about Cardinal Pell's handling of Mr Jones' complaint, the likelihood is that there will now be more protests than might otherwise have been the case.
 July 8 2008

More sex-abuse scandals await the Pope in Australia

By Broken Rites researchers

Pell accused of sex abuse cover-up

As the Catholic church awaits the arrival of the Pope to celebrate World Youth Day, ABC TV's "Lateline" program (on Monday 7 July 2008) has published church documents that raise new questions about how the country's most senior churchman, Cardinal George Pell, has handled sexual abuse allegations against a Sydney priest, Father Terence Goodall.

You can see the Lateline program on the ABC website, where you can click one button to see a video report on the topic and another button to see an interview with the president of Broken Rites Australia.

You can read a report on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

And you can see a report of the conviction of Father Terence Goodall in a criminal court on the Broken Rites website.

A sex-abuse T-shirt to welcome the Pope

Australian sex-abuse victims are designing T-shirts to wear for the Pope's visit to Sydney during July 13-20, 2008, for World Youth Day events. The T-shirts will draw attention to the Catholic Church's record of sexual abuse of Australian youth.

One victim is planning a T-shirt that will incorporate the names of 107 Australian Catholic priests and brothers who have been sentenced in court for sexual offences since Broken Rites began initiating prosecutions in 1993.

But is there a T-shirt big enough to hold all these names? Another victim suggests using just the 64 worst offenders, so as to make the names easier to read.

Better still might be a T-shirt with just the headline: 107 Catholic clergy sentenced for sex crimes.

The list of 107 sentenced offenders is on the Broken Rites Black Collar Crime page. But these are not a complete list -- these are merely the cases in which Broken Rites has had an involvement.

And they are just the cases that reached court. Most church-victims are intimidated into remaining silent.

And here is the news for the Pope

When the Pope comes to Australia on 13 July 2008 for World Youth Day events, he will spend the first few days holidaying at a camp run by controversial Catholic organisation Opus Dei. This will give His Holiness time to catch up on Australia's latest scandals about the Catholic Church's youth-abuse. For example:
  • On 3 July 2008 ­ ten days before the Pope's arrival in Australia ­ prosecutors filed new child-sex charges in the Ballarat Magistrates Court against Christian Brother Robert Charles Best, aged 67. The court has listed the charges for a mention on 25 September 2008, when the prosecution and defence can make submissions regarding a subsequent committal hearing. The charges include multiple counts of sexual offences against boys, allegedly committed at St Alipius boys' primary school in Ballarat East between 1970 and 1973 and at St Leo's College in Box Hill (Melbourne) in 1976. The prosecution file was compiled by the Ballarat Criminal Investigation Unit of the Victoria Police. Best was convicted in 1996 for sexual child-abuse, committed in the 1970s at Ballarat East. See some background about Best here .
  • Father Paul Raymond Evans (who was originally a priest in the Salesian order, working at the Boys Town residential school in Engadine, NSW) is currently in a jury trial at the Sydney District Court on child-sex charges. It is possible that the trial might finish by July 18 ­ while the Pope is still in Australia. See more about Evans here.
  • In Canberra on 23 June 2008, Marist Brother John William Chute (alias "Brother Kostka") was jailed for sexual child-abuse at a Canberra Catholic boys' school, Marist College. Kostka is in jail and therefore will not be able to welcome the Pope. See our story here.
  • On 25 June 2008, an Australian former employee of the Vatican (Brother Rodger Moloney) was convicted for sexually abusing intellectually-handicapped youths. And, while Australian taxpayers are paying mega-dollars to stage the Catholic Church's World Youth Day, the church has spent mega-dollars during the past five years trying to protect Brother Moloney. See our story here.
  • Australian police are currently arranging to extradite a Catholic priest, Charles Alfred Barnett, 66, from Indonesia to South Australia, where he will face child abuse charges. Australian police allege that Father Barnett molested a number of boys, aged between 12 and 17, from 1977 to 1994, around Adelaide and Port Pirie, an Indonesian court was told. It is believed that Father Barnett was ordained into an Australia-wide religious order and that he may have also ministered in other Australian states (perhaps Queensland and New South Wales), as well as South Australia. See our story here.
  • The Sydney "Sun Herald", on Sunday 22 June 2008, reported that Father Ronald John McKeirnan (who was jailed in 1998 for sexual child-abuse) is still being harbored in the Brisbane archdiocese. The paper said that McKeirnan has been employed doing work on church websites, including websites that are relevant to youth. The Brisbane Catholic Leader, on 29 June 2008, confirmed that the Marist Brothers community in Brisbane still use Father McKeirnan to say Mass for the Brothers. See some background about McKeirnan here .
  • The Catholic Church is paying big money to its lawyers to fight victims in the civil courts if victims try to sue the church. A feature article in the "Weekend Australian" (28 June 2008, page 25, by Ean Higgins and Nicola Berkovic) describes how the church is refusing to pay reasonable compensation to victims. The article says: "With the Pope due here next month, complaints of past child abuse by his church are growing." The heading on the article is: "Pontiff has chance to lift the church's pall of shame." The article is available on the internet.

 The youth who attend World Youth Day in Sydney in July 2008 will certainly have plenty to talk about.

"Annoying" T-shirts are OK in Melbourne

Catholic Church sex-abuse victims, together with their supporters and advocates, are holding a protest outside Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral each Sunday morning during the lead-up to World Youth Day events. Unlike New South Wales, Victoria has not enacted laws to ban "annoying" T-shirts or placards that criticise the Catholic Church's record of sexual abuse against youth.

The Melbourne sex-abuse victims are demanding that the Australian bishops should become more genuine, and less evasive, in responding to victims. The victims also want to have a meeting with the Pope, during his Australian visit, as well as receiving a papal apology.

On Sunday 6 July 2008, the protest by sex-abuse victims co-incided with another protest outside the same cathedral, staged by members of Melbourne's Iraqi Chaldean Catholic community, who are objecting to their Iraqi chaplain being transferred to Sydney.

At the July 6 gathering, both of the protesting groups called for a meeting with Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.

A spokesman for Archbishop Hart told the media that Hart had no plans to meet victims of clergy sexual abuse. Hart's response is typical of the evasiveness of the Australian bishops.

"Thou shalt not annoy the Catholic Church re its sexual abuse"

The New South Wales government has issued laws to protect the Catholic Church from embarrassment during World Youth Day events. If you stand near a World Youth Day event wearing a T-shirt that criticises the Catholic Church's sexual abuse, the police can arrest you.

The laws (outlined in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 July 2008) are designed to stop people (including church sex-abuse victims but also other citizens) from "causing annoyance" to the church during World Youth Day events. The laws allow police to order any citizens to cease any "annoying" activity, including wearing dissenting T-Shirts.

The laws have since been slammed as a harsh infringement of human rights and have put the New South Wales State Government's priorities under serious question. Critics say the laws are even stronger than those during the APEC event in Sydney in September 2007, when U.S. president George Bush was in town. Many Sydney people feel "annoyed" because the New South Wales and federal governments are giving the Catholic Church millions of taxpayers' dollars in public funding for the event.

The laws are likely to encourage a wave of civil disobedience, with lots of people wearing dissenting T-shirts, conducting marches and carrying banners and placards. The whole scene will interest the world media, drawing attention to the Catholic Church's behaviour on various issues, including its sexual abuse.

The new laws have been ridiculed in Sydney newspapers, on Sydney talk-back radio and on internet blogs.

Various people are busy drafting slogans for T-shirts.

One online blog, "Web Diary", mentioned a T-shirt which combined the papal visit with the church's sexual abuse. This T-shirt says: "The Pope touched me Down Under".

Sprechen Sie deutsch, Herr Ratzinger?

Pope Benedict, who was born in Germany, was originally named Joseph Ratzinger. A South Australian man (Martin M.), who experienced mistreatment in church institutions as a child in Germany after World War 2, is writing slogans in the German language, to be placed on T-shirts, placards and banners in Sydney for the benefit of German-speaking television audiences around the world. Martin has told Broken Rites Australia in an email that he feels annoyed about the New South Wales "anti-annoyance" laws for World Youth Day events. Martin says:

"It has occurred to me that hardly anyone in the New South Wales police force would be able to understand German. However, the Pope ­ Herr Josef Ratzinger ­ understands German only too well, and the German news media that will undoubtedly be present will film everything that takes place. Whatever does take place will be seen all around the world, including in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and all German-speaking folks will be able to see it and understand it without any problem. That is the one and only way to get the message out, to get the message across loud and clear and without hindrance and interference by anyone.

"In close cooperation with people in Germany ­ whose German is even better than mine ­ I have put together a list of hard-hitting (but non-offensive ! ) Slogans in the GERMAN language that could be used on banners, placards and T-shirts for consideration by protest organisations and T-shirt makers alike."

Police interview church sex-abuse victims

New South Wales police officers are currently contacting various victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse. In these meetings, the police describe what church-abuse victims can, and cannot, do during the "World Youth Day" month to draw public attention to the Catholic Church's sexual abuse.

The police officers are from the "World Youth Day Investigation Team", care of the NSW State Crime Command, phone (02) 8338 7332. This team is based at a "secret location" in Sydney.

The officers are handing around copies of a multi-page document, outlining the provisions of new "World Youth Day" laws, recently issued by the New South Wales government. These laws effectively prohibit sex-abuse victims (and any other citizens) from gathering at hundreds of locations around Sydney that are deemed to be associated with the Catholic Church's World Youth Day.

The officers are also handing around copies of a form which (they say) must be filled in by any group of sex-abuse victims who wish to hold a "public assembly" in Sydney during the World Youth Day month. The form has spaces for filling in the time, place and duration of the proposed assembly, plus other details. One officer has told church-abuse victims that there is a section on the form ­ Section 3 (iv) ­ where sex-abuse victims can write down the wording of any proposed T-shirts, placards or banners. The forms must be returned to the NSW police.

And the interviews extend beyond New South Wales. On 1 July 2008, two officers from the "World Youth Day Investigation Team" travelled to Melbourne, where they had arranged to meet various Victorian victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse.

These officers had already had similar contact with New South Wales sex-abuse victims. The officers told the Victorian victims the names of two NSW men who have complained about having been the victims of church sexual abuse:

  • the name of a man who has complained publicly about having been sexually abused at St Stanislaus boys' boarding school in Bathurst; and
  • the name of a man who has spoken publicly about having been abused in his childhood by a Maitland-Newcastle diocesan priest.

Broken Rites wants more than just an apology

Some Australian church people expect that the Pope "might" mention his regret for church-abuse in one of his speeches in Sydney but Broken Rites will not be satisfied by a brief, or evasive, reference or a "motherhood" statement because this would be a continuation of the Catholic Church's age-old cover-up.

Broken Rites believes that the Pope must also promise that his Australian bishops will do more than they have done in the past to help church-abuse survivors.

Broken Rites believes that the papal apology should be delivered in the presence of an audience of church sex-abuse victims.

Early in 2008, indigenous Australians were invited to federal Parliament House for a special day to witness Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying ‘Sorry’ to the stolen generations. Broken Rites wants a similar audience of church sex-abuse victims to be present for any apology by the Pope.

On 7 June 2008, five weeks before the Pope's arrival in Australia, Broken Rites Australia wrote to the the Vatican's diplomatic representative in Canberra (Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto), requesting that a deputation of Australian church sex-abuse survivors should have an audience with the Pope in Sydney. Lazzarotto replied to Broken Rites, in a letter dated 16 June 2008, saying merely that he had passed our request on to the Vatican.

But, in view of past experience with church procedures, we at Broken Rites are not holding our breath.

A pre-Pope conference

On June 20-21, representatives of Broken Rites attended a conference in Sydney about religious-based sexual abuse. Organised by the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the conference was attended by other professionals and academics from various disciplines (such as social sciences and law), as well as by victims' advocates plus some individual victims/survivors.

Religious leaders from all denominations were invited to join a panel to discuss progress. Only the Anglicans accepted.

Broken Rites was very impressed by several of the speakers, especially:

  • Dr Gary Schoener, psychologist, director, of the "Walk-In Counseling Center", Minnesota, USA; and
  • Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs, who lectures in Child Development at the University of South Australia.

Rachael Kohn, of ABC Radio National, interviewed these speakers for her program, "The Spirit of Things", which was broadcast on Sunday evening 29 June 2008. You can listen to those interviews on the ABC website.

And here is the news on Channel 9

On 2 July 2008 the Channel Nine News in Sydney had an interesting story, entitled 'Annoying' World Youth Day shirts for sale.

You can see the news-item video (lasting 1 minute 37 seconds) on the NineMSN website. But you might have to watch a 30-second advertisement first.

 Tuesday July 8 2008

Pell 'gave weight' to priest's version

CARDINAL George Pell dismissed a sex abuse complaint against a priest because he gave weight to his claim the encounter was consensual, fresh documents show.

Cardinal Pell, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia, has become embroiled in the sex abuse claim just days before Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the country for World Youth Day.

Letters obtained by the ABC and aired on Monday showed Cardinal Pell told Anthony Jones, who had complained of being sexually assaulted by Father Terrence Goodall, that his complaint could not be upheld because the church was not aware of any other complaints.

But another letter shows Cardinal Pell was aware of a second allegation of sexual abuse against Father Goodall.

Cardinal Pell yesterday said he had got it wrong and expressed himself poorly.

Tonight, the ABC revealed another letter which showed why Cardinal Pell dismissed Mr Jones' complaint: because he gave weight to Father Goodall's side of the story.

"What cannot be determined by me however is whether it was a matter of sexual assault as you state or homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults as maintained by Father Goodall," said the letter, written by Cardinal Pell to Mr Jones in 2003.

"In the end it is a matter of your word against his."

Mr Jones maintained the encounter was not consensual.

Father Goodall was later convicted of indecent assault.

The ABC also revealed an internal church report which found Father Goodall had had sexual encounters with a 16-year-old female, as well as Mr Jones and the other young male complainant.

Father Goodall admitted to asking altar boys to swim nude, and to propositioning young men, the report found.
The Age ~~ Melbourne ~~ Wednesday July 9 2008

Pell denies covering up sex abuse by priest

Joel Gibson, Erik Jensen and Arjun Ramachandran

Cardinal George Pell said his letter to a man who complained of abuse was "badly worded and a mistake". 

THE Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has denied he covered up sexual abuse by a Sydney priest, and refused to stand aside or resign over his treatment of a 2003 sexual assault claim.

His denial was made as new claims were aired last night by the ABC's Lateline program that Cardinal Pell had rejected assault allegations by Lismore man Anthony Jones relating to when Mr Jones was a trainee teacher, despite advice from a church investigator that they should be substantiated.

Documents aired by the ABC also showed Cardinal Pell did not alter his view or inform Mr Jones of the recommendation despite a July 2003 church report that said Father Terence Goodall was guilty of other sexual and indecent assaults, had "no boundaries" and "no sympathy for victims" and "was likely to reoffend".

Cardinal Pell said yesterday he had not contacted Mr Jones after realising he had misrepresented the investigation but considered the matter closed.

Cardinal Pell, Australia's highest Catholic, wrote to Mr Jones in 2003 saying the church's investigator had not found his rape claim to be substantiated and that there had been no other complaints against Father Goodall.

Both statements were untrue, Cardinal Pell said yesterday, but "there was no cover-up". He said the letter was "badly worded and a mistake", "an innocent error" and an "overstatement".

Documents obtained by the ABC showed Cardinal Pell wrote to a second victim the same day to say he believed his claim of indecent assault.

The documents showed Cardinal Pell was informed in July 2003 that Father Goodall had also abused a 16-year-old girl, propositioned two seminary students, invited altar boys to strip naked while swimming and had consensual sex with another adult male in 1996.

Three months after the first letter, Dr Pell wrote to Mr Jones again. He did not correct his previous letter, and maintained that: "In the end it is a matter of your word against his."

The latest revelations are an embarrassment a week before World Youth Day, and a visit from Pope Benedict XVI, but Dr Pell defended his record dealing with sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, saying he was the first to set up diocesan protocols in Melbourne in 1996.

He said his position on Mr Jones' assault had been validated by a subsequent criminal case where the prosecution did not allege sexual assault.

Mr Jones said Dr Pell was "dishonest", had caused him two nervous breakdowns and undermined an expected apology from the Pope to thousands of Australian abuse victims.

His civil action against Dr Pell and Father Goodall was settled by mutual consent last month after it reached the Supreme Court.

The agreement stopped Mr Jones from pursuing compensation, covered his legal fees, and included a confidentiality clause later removed.
(Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ~~ Monday July 7 2008

Exclusive documents reveal church ignored abuse allegations

Reporter: Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer

Lateline reveals documents that show how the Australian Catholic Church's most senior figure, Cardinal George Pell, misled a man who complained of being abused by a Sydney priest.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: As the Australian Catholic Church prepares to host the Pope for World Youth Day, Lateline can tonight reveal new evidence showing how its most senior figure, Cardinal George Pell, misled a man who complained of being abused by a Sydney priest.

Lateline has documents that show George Pell wrote to the man telling him his sex assault allegation wasn't being upheld because the church had received no other complaints of sexual assault by the priest.

But on the very same day, the Archbishop signed a letter to another man, upholding his claim that the same priest had sexually assaulted him when he was a young altar boy. The new documents also show that Cardinal Pell ignored the recommendations of the church's own investigation.

While many in the church are anticipating that the Pope will shortly apologise for the Australian church's role in sexual abuse, the victim in this case says George Pell destroyed his faith and damaged his life.

Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer produced this report.

CONNOR DUFFY, REPORTER: As a young man, Anthony Jones' life revolved around two things: the surf and his faith. From a family that had already produced a bishop, Anthony Jones too was drawn towards a life with the Church.

ANTHONY JONES, ABUSE VICTIM: I loved Catholicism, I loved the liturgy, I loved the music. I loved the pomp, the ceremony. I loved good liturgy. It spoke to my heart. I experienced God in that.

CONNOR DUFFY: At 28 as a young religious education coordinator, he came to meet Father Terence Goodall, a Sydney Priest. A social meeting in January 1982 ended with the two men coming to this pool for a swim. It was a night he spent a lifetime trying to forget.

ANTHONY JONES: The water wasn't that deep so I crouched down so that the water was up to my shoulders and then the next moment, hands come around from behind me, and a hand goes down in to the speedos that I had been loaned by Father Goodall, and he became to fondle my penis. He had his other arm around me so it was hard to move away.

CONNOR DUFFY: Anthony Jones did break away and swam to get out of the pool. With his clothes back at the presbytery however, Jones had no choice but to drive back there with Father Goodall. He says when they got back, the priest ambushed him while he was getting dressed.

ANTHONY JONES: I thought at the time that he wanted to apologise to me because my actions of moving away from him in the pool indicated to him that I did not consent to what he had done or what he did and that I did not approve of what had happened. So I sat on the bed. A few moments passed and he pushed my shoulder down and lifted my legs on the bed and within a flash he had taken the towel off me, he pulled his own towel off, and he had the full weight of his body upon my body and he was rubbing his erect penis up against mine, and then he placed his penis in between my legs and was rubbing his penis up against my anus and my scrotum. I couldn't believe that this was happening. I was speechless. I was in shock. I was frightened that this was happening to me.

CONNOR DUFFY: Anthony Jones says Father Goodall only let him up after the Priest had ejaculated. I quickly got dressed and he said to me, "Oh, I've been seeking a gay relationship on the quiet." And I said, "I'm not into this whatsoever." And I grabbed my wallet and just walked down the stairs. I felt so angry, and got into my car and I just felt like driving to Cronulla Beach and drowning myself. Then when I got home I stood under the shower for three hours washing my body.

CONNOR DUFFY: Anthony Jones says he complained to the Catholic Church the next day but that his complaint wasn't even raised with Father Goodall. 20 years later, Anthony Jones would finally force the Church to investigate the assault. How the Church responded now raises grave questions about the most senior Roman Catholic Church man in Australia.

Lateline has obtained the Church's own documents relating to the investigation of Father Goodall. It started with this letter from Anthony Jones.

LETTER FROM ANTHONY JONES: I write to you to formally report that I was a victim of sexual assault by Father Terence Goodall.

CONNOR DUFFY: And the Church did look into the matter, appointing a layman Howard Murray to investigate. By early 2003 he produced this detailed report.

While the report says that Father Goodall raised the issue of an element of consent, the investigator recommended that Anthony Jones' allegations be sustained without qualification. The report, as well as a number of other documents, was referred upwards to the desk of Archbishop George Pell. And it was the Archbishop who would eventually respond to Anthony Jones about the outcome.

But the letter George Pell wrote to Anthony Jones differed markedly from the investigation's findings.

The Archbishop wrote: "After examining all of the material, Mr Murray provided me with a report, and he has recommended that the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against you be found to be substantiated. However, as no other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall and he categorically denies the accusation, Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of attempted aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to have been substantiated.

The letter was a shattering blow for Anthony Jones.

ANTHONY JONES: It destroyed my faith. Ripped it to pieces. I now hate Catholicism because of what Cardinal Pell has done to me. More so than what Father Goodall did to me.

CONNOR DUFFY: But if the Church had hoped to close the matter with that letter, it failed. Jones took his allegations to the Criminal and Civil Courts. Those proceedings resulted in a dramatic discovery. The Church, forced to produce a range of documents about Father Goodall, handed over material that now raises questions about the conduct of Cardinal Pell. Lateline has now obtained those documents.

Remember, George Pell had written to Anthony Jones on the 14th of February saying his claim couldn't be substantiated and basing that on his statement that "No other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall."

But what the Archbishop wrote was not true. On the same day George Pell signed a letter to another man who had claimed that when he was just 10 or 11 years old he'd been attacked by Father Goodall. In a letter to that victim, which was put into evidence in the District Court in 2006, George Pell accepted his complaint.

LETTER FROM GEORGE PELL TO ABUSE VICTIM: After examining all of the material, Mr Murray provided me with a report in which he recommended that the complaints of inappropriate behaviour with altar boys and of indecent assault of you when a young be found to be substantiated."

ANTHONY JONES: He had to know that there were other complaints because he wrote to the man who as an 11 year old boy was assaulted by Father Goodall on the same day. His signatures are on the letters. So he had to know. Cardinal Pell misrepresented the truth.

CONNOR DUFFY: The complaint involving the young boy that George Pell upheld has striking similarities to what happened to Anthony Jones at the beach. It found that at this church in Campsie in Sydney's Inner West, Goodall approached the boy in the Church's sacristy after Mass and then fondled his penis. In fact, by coincidence, the two complaints were made within months of each other and both were dealt with in the report sent to Archbishop Pell by Church Investigator Howard Murray. In that report, also put into evidence in the District Court in 2006, the investigator told George Pell "That both Tony and [name withheld] be informed in writing that their allegations have been sustained and appropriate follow up action be taken to provide any necessary remedial assistance.

CONNOR DUFFY: The report is stamped as having been received in January 2003, just weeks before George Pell wrote to Anthony Jones and said there were no other complaints about Father Goodall. In 2005 Father Goodall was convicted of indecent assault against Anthony Jones.

Lateline has asked the office of Cardinal George Pell a series of questions, chiefly: How did the Archbishop come to write to Anthony Jones, dismissing his allegations on the grounds that they were the only ones against Father Goodall when he knew of another matter and wrote confirming that assault on the same day. And why in the letter did he contradict the findings of his Church's investigation. One which recommended that Anthony Jones' complaint be upheld.

So far the Church has not responded. Connor Duffy, Lateline.

TONY JONES: We offered Cardinal Pell the chance to join us tonight to put his side of this story in addition to those questions in writing.

And as we go to air we've received no direct answer to any of our questions and the only response has been in the form of a letter from the Church's lawyers suggesting that for legal reasons the ABC should not reveal the documents.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation ~~ Lateline Monday July 7 2008

Broken Rites president joins Lateline

Reporter: Tony Jones

The president of Broken Rites, the group established to help victims of church-related sexual abuse Chris McIsaac, joins the program to discuss exclusive documents revealing controversial information about the Australian Catholic Church.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: We are joined now in the studio by Chris McIsaac, the President of "Broken Rites," the group established to help victims of church-related abuse.

Thanks for being there.


TONY JONES: Can I ask for your immediate reaction to the story that you've just seen?

CHRIS MCISAAC: Well, it's quite shocking. It doesn't surprise me, though, because we have complaints all the time about the Church's process. But this case shows the great weakness of the process. It's left to each individual bishop or church authority to deal with the matters, and their decision is the end of the line for victims. So if there's something done that's incorrect, like in this case, there's nowhere for that victim to go. Luckily for this particular victim, he had the ability to go further forward and go through the criminal process. Broken Rites always advises people if it's possible, go through the criminal process first.

TONY JONES: And indeed he was able to go through the legal process and find documents which lay behind the scenes, telling a very different story to the one that appeared in the letter that Cardinal Pell sent him?

CHRIS MCISAAC: That's correct. Well, obviously, whatever made Dr Pell act that way on that particular day, that's just very strange and very hard to understand. I mean, there's no reality in this. You've got two letters signed on the same day, one going completely against what your investigator has told you, the assessor I assume. That's what they're called in the process. And there's just no rhyme nor reason to this. I don't know why a decision like that would be made. It can't be a mistake.

TONY JONES: Have you ever seen anything quite like this? I mean, in terms of the contradiction between the two letters that you've just spelt out? You've looked at many, many cases obviously involving different bishops and so on?

CHRIS MCISAAC: Nothing quite like this, but we have seen lots of situations where it's impossible for the victim to get any justice from the particular church authority, only because that authority, that person has dug their heels in and refuses to do anymore. Even though the processes tended to say well, "We believe you", the victim has felt going right through the process that their allegation has been accepted, but get to the church authority and it's dismissed.

TONY JONES: I think you can tell from looking in the victim in this case, Antony Jones, you can tell how deeply this has all affected him. He says it's actually destroyed his faith. The letter from Cardinal Pell, the legal process he had to go through and so on. What does it actually mean to victims of sexual abuse by priests to get real transparency into the investigations into their cases?

CHRIS MCISAAC: That is vital. This is what we've been calling for. This is why we're asking for a papal apology that's absolutely meaningful, meaningful with further action, that will bring processes into play that allow for transparency, and somewhere where there's an overriding body that can control things, rather than the bishops making individual decisions.

But coming back to the point, all victims feel that it's a huge hurdle to bring their matter before the church process and then when there is an outcome like this, or they find that they just can't move forward within the process, they feel re-abused and they all say that. It's worse than the abuse itself, because they've come to a church that they think will be caring, a church that will look after them, this distressful thing has happened, an abhorrent thing has happened. Crimes have been committed against them and yet, they find that it's not taken seriously. They feel that the people that they're dealing with are insincere and it really is quite heartbreaking to a lot of people.

TONY JONES: In this case, it is very different, because the person at the heart of responding, the final responded if you like to the victim, is the highest authority or effectively, the highest authority in terms of being a cardinal of the Catholic Church in Australia. I mean, does that change it, and what are the implications for the church if that can happen?

CHRIS MCISAAC: Well, I don't know about the implications for the church, but this matter certainly needs to be sorted out and maybe, you know, Dr Pell even needs to stand aside while it is sorted out. Something needs to be done that's significant, that shows how serious a matter this is. We, as the advocates on behalf of victims, victims ourselves, we're just a small support group, we feel that the matter for the last 16 years that Broken Rites have been in operation, really is not taken seriously within the inside of the church and this current situation with World Youth Day just says that again.

We're told we don't even know if the Pope's going to give an apology. There's comments like, "We think there might be one" but they're not saying, "We think there's going to be these other organised events for World Youth Day", that is definitely all organised. So where does the sexual abuse issue sit in terms of how important is it to the church? Situations like we've just seen should never, never happen, and yet it has. How many others like that have happened? Well, certainly Broken Rites know of many, not exactly the same, but many, many complaints come to us constantly from people who are not happy with their process.

TONY JONES: Sorry to interrupt you there; do you know, is there a mechanism within inside the Catholic Church to deal with an investigation into what the most senior Catholic has actually done?

CHRIS MCISAAC: Well, there is according to their process a review process, but I haven't seen that successfully worked in a successful manner, as yet. I'm not quite sure if there are cases that have been reviewed. Situations have been re-looked at, or whether decisions have been overturned because of that review. We certainly haven't heard of that happening.

TONY JONES: Looking back over the cases you've dealt with, how common is it for the church, I'm talking about the Roman Catholic Church here, when dealing with individual victims, to conceal the fact there are other victims of the same priest against whom allegations are being made?

CHRIS MCISAAC: Well, this is a big problem and this again is another wounding to the victim. This is the sort of thing where they feel re-abused. If they go along and they tell their story and they're looked at as if "Well, you're number one to come and tell us and we really sort of feel that Father was a good man," and then later on they find there were lots of other victims, that really is very difficult for them to cope with.

TONY JONES: And this is not the first time you've heard of this kind of incident, or leaving aside Cardinal Pell's involvement?

CHRIS MCISAAC: No, no, no. Unless the priest has been before the courts and perhaps in goal because of his crimes and the church know that people will know about this situation, you're not told whether the priest that you're speaking of has abused others.

TONY JONES: Is there a problem here for the church? I mean, a lots of the victims wouldn't want their names to become public, wouldn't want other people to know what happened to them, is that ultimately the excuse the church makes? Or do you feel something else is going on in these cases?

CHRIS MCISAAC: Whether it's an excuse the church make, they certainly hide behind this fact that people won't come forward, because it really is something that cuts into somebody's psychic in a deep way. It's very hard to talk about. And while the abuse is going on, while they're groomed by these perpetrators, it's all about guilt, and the victim's the guilty party. And so they grow up with that and in latter years, even in their adulthood, in terms of trying to talk about it, there's still a lot of guilt associated with it. So coming forward is very difficult to do.

Broken Rites know of 107 priests and brothers that have been convicted, but we also know they're the tip of the iceberg, because there's so many that people have not spoken about, but they have not been prepared to go to the police, or have charges laid against these people. So it's a very sad story and we don't think it's one that the church really have taken seriously enough and been proactive in looking for victims.

TONY JONES: Chris McIsaac, we'll have to leave you there. We thank you very much for coming in to talk to us tonight.



Australian Broadcasting Corporation ~~ Tuesday July 8 2008

New evidence in church abuse case

Reporter: Connor Duffy

Last night Lateline aired evidence that Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell misrepresented the truth when he responded to a man who complained he'd been abused by a priest. Tonight we reveal new evidence that church investigators - and through them, the Archbishop - were later told by the same priest that he had assaulted another victim: a 16-year-old girl. We also raise a series of new questions, including why George Pell gave weight to the abusive priest's word that his attack on Anthony Jones was, in fact, consensual.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Last night Lateline revealed the case of Anthony Jones, a former religious education teacher and his evidence that Cardinal George Pell misrepresented the truth when he responded to Mr Jones' complaint of sexual assault by a priest.

Today cardinal George Pell admitted he'd made a mistake when he wrote a letter to Mr Jones falsely telling him his was the only complaint against the priest and that the church investigation said his complaint of sex assault shouldn't be upheld.

Tonight we reveal new documents from the case that show that the church investigators and, through them, the Archbishop were later told by the same priest that he'd assaulted another victim: a 16 year old girl. She has never been identified.

We also raise a series of new questions, including why George Pell gave weight to the abusive priest's word, that his attack on Anthony Jones was in fact consensual.

Conor Duffy and Tim Palmer produced this report.

CONOR DUFFY, REPORTER: Last night Anthony Jones told Lateline how he was sexually assaulted by a Sydney priest, Father Terence Goodall.

Letters and a report published by Lateline show that Archbishop George Pell subsequently misrepresented the findings of the church's own investigation into that attack.

Anthony Jones says Cardinal Pell's actions destroyed the faith that had been the bedrock of his life.

ANTHONY JONES, ABUSE VICTIM: It affected me the same way as Father Goodall sexually assaulting me. Cardinal Pell assaulted me by his words all over again.

CONOR DUFFY: Today Cardinal Pell was forced to put aside last minute preparations for World Youth Day to respond to the serious questions over his handling of the case.

Among them, why he wrote to Anthony Jones saying:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): No other complaint of attempted sexual assault has been received against Father Goodall.

CONOR DUFFY: When he knew there had been, and in fact had written to another of Father Goodall's victims accepting his allegation on the same day he wrote to Mr Jones.

All just a poor choice of words according to Cardinal Pell.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: The letter to Mr Jones was badly worded and a mistake.

CONOR DUFFY: Cardinal says his description of the type of crime in the letter caused the confusion. When the Anthony Jones matter was investigated, church investigator Howard Murray recommended to Cardinal Pell that the allegations raised by Anthony Jones be sustained.

However when Cardinal Pell wrote to Jones he claimed:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of attempted aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to have been substantiated.

CONOR DUFFY: Today Cardinal Pell said that too was an innocent mistake, not a fabrication.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: No that is an overstatement I acknowledge that.

REPORTER: Is it an overstatement or is it just not true and made up?

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: No because I accepted the basic conclusions of Murray, that the charges were substantiated.

REPORTER: Why did you say then Mr Murray was of the opinion that the complaint of aggravated sexual assault cannot be considered to be substantiated when Murray said nothing of the sort.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: Because I'd come to that conclusion after advice and considering the matter and also confirming that all along Goodall insisted that it was consensual, and he confirmed that to me.

REPORTER: But why did you contribute that to Mr Murray...

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: That was an overstatement. That was an innocent error.

CONOR DUFFY: Today Cardinal Pell acknowledged that Howard Murray sustained all of Anthony Jones' allegations.

Lateline has obtained another letter sent by George Pell to Anthony Jones in May 2003.

In that letter Cardinal Pell once again contradicts the findings of the Murray investigation. He wrote:

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): What cannot be determined by me, however, is whether it was a matter of sexual assault as you state, or homosexual behaviour between two consenting adults as maintained by Father Goodall. In the end it is a matter of your word against his.

CONOR DUFFY: But the report to George Pell had only given the issue of consent passing mention.

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL (Voiceover): He [Father Goodall] agreed generally with Tony's account of the post-swim events at the presbytery although he maintained the move to the bed whilst both men were naked was more consensual than forced upon Tony.

CONOR DUFFY: Ultimately Father Goodall would admit to the non-consensual nature of the pool incident and plead guilty in the district court to indecent assault.

Cardinal Pell's acceptance of Father Goodall's excuse that the incident was consensual infuriated the victim.

ANTHONY JONES: By saying that it was consensual and that there were no other complaints is an absolute disgrace. And I believe that Cardinal Pell should not be Cardinal Pell.

CONOR DUFFY: That Cardinal Pell erred in giving equal weight to the word of Father Goodall and that of his victim, was made clear subsequently when the church investigator sent the Archbishop a report that was scathing about Father Goodall's character.

It found Father Goodall was a serial offender and an ongoing risk.

HOWARD MURRAY, CHURCH INVESTIGATOR (Voiceover): I was struck by the recurring themes of defensiveness, lack of victim empathy and lack of reasonable insight.

CONOR DUFFY: The report also sketches a career long history of problems involving Goodall. And critically finds he committed another offence against another child. In this case a 16 year old girl.

HOWARD MURRAY (Voiceover): I am aware that he has offended against a 10/11 year old male, a 16 year old female, and that he has made admissions to fondling a young adult male without his consent.

Also he has admitted to the following incidents: namely, propositioning two male seminary students when he was attached to the manly theological faculty, inviting a group of alter boys to strip naked whilst swimming, inviting an adult male to stay over at his parish presbytery, and of having a consensual sexual experience with an adult male.

PAUL COLLINS, AUTHOR AND FORMER PRIEST: To me there's a kind of lurking question here, the abuse of the altar boy for instance that he mentions in his letter.

I mean did he report that to the police? This is kind of, this is the essence of the story it seems to me.

PROFESSOR MARK FINDLAY, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY: Well I think it reveals that this church, like other churches, start off from a position which is how can we minimise fire damage.

And perhaps as other churches have found, and the Catholic Church has found, the real consideration is how do we restore public confidence and how do we put forward a positive approach to considerations that relate to sexual abuse

CONOR DUFFY: Late tonight the church told Lateline that it had informed police about the assault on the 11 year old altar boy.

And the church said it only became aware of the offence against the 16 year old girl when father Goodall admitted to it in June 2003.

The church says the priest did not disclose the name of the girl, she's never been identified.

So far George Pell says he hasn't informed the Vatican of the controversy. Paul Collins says he won't have to.

PAUL COLLINS: I'm sure they would be aware of what's happening and I'm sure they would be looking at it carefully.

CONOR DUFFY: Cardinal Pell today apologised to Anthony Jones and suggested that should be the end of the matter.

REPORTER: Not a very good opener for the World Youth Day is it?

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL: Please God we'll be over this before the World Youth Day.

CONOR DUFFY: That's just seven days away

Conor Duffy, Lateline.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation ~~ Lateline Tuesday July 8 2008

Jason Parkinson joins Lateline

Reporter: Tony Jones

Canberra-based lawyer Jason Parkinson says the Catholic church has been avoiding its legal liabilities. He will be representing former students who are among more than 30 involved in abuse claims being brought against the Marist College in Canberra.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Well now to our interview with Jason Parkinson, a Canberra based lawyer who said the Catholic Church has been avoiding its legal liabilities.

He'll be representing former students who were more than among 30 being involved in abuse claims being brought against the Marist College in Canberra.

I spoke to Jason Parkinson in our Parliament House studio just a short time ago.

Jason Parkinson thanks for joining us.

JASON PARKINSON, LAWYER: Thanks very much, Tony.

TONY JONES: Now one thing that's come out clearly from Cardinal Pell's involvement in this latest case is just how hard the Church is prepared to fight against civil cases brought by victims in civil courts. I gather that's your experience?

JASON PARKINSON: It is Tony. What initially happens is the Church will try to dissuade you from going to the courts.

They'll offer that you should go through their Towards Healing program. But then if you show any reluctance to take part in their form of justice and you take your option to go to the courts, they fight very hard indeed.

TONY JONES: Now Cardinal Pell said today, for example, that the case that Anthony Jones brought against the Church, he was seeking damages more than $3 million.

So you could understand them having to fight these cases pretty hard, couldn't you, because a flood of them could actually bankrupt the Church?

JASON PARKINSON: Yes, but it's a question of human rights. One of the fundamental human rights is not to be assaulted and certainly not as a child not to be sexually assaulted.

Now people have to have their dignity and they have their rights. And if their right is to go to court they should have it. And it's for the Church then to go to the courts as well where these matters can be sorted out.

It's not for the Church to have their own form of justice and if you don't abide by their rules of justice, then they make it very difficult for you to go to the courts.

TONY JONES: This system you're talking about the Towards Healing process was set up by the Church itself to privately settle cases like this, settle with victims. How does it actually work?

JASON PARKINSON: Well the Church firstly they will make offers to victims not to approach any independent lawyers, they actually tell the victims that it's not in their best interests to get legal advice and they should be going without any assistance to a Towards Healing process.

Now once they're in there nobody knows what happens. Victims of child abuse are in many times very seriously psychologically damaged. They're not their own best advocates and when they're put into a situation such as Towards Healing they must negotiate for themselves, and I'm afraid they just don't do very well.

TONY JONES: They are given small compensation packages in many cases but also don't they have to sign confidentiality agreements and agree not to take any further legal action?

JASON PARKINSON: That's right. They waive all future rights. Now they sign on for those awards, whatever it is that the Church is going to give them.

But they don't know, and they're not able to get an independent advice, whether it is a satisfactory award or if it's real compensation in the circumstances. Sadly these people aren't able to negotiate against quite a powerful body such as the Church.

TONY JONES: And what's the relationship between the Towards Healing process and the Church's insurers?

JASON PARKINSON: Well apparently the Catholic Church insurance funds Towards Healing, so that it would be in the interests of the Church and also of the insurers that they be able to negotiate with people and get the best results possible.

From the Church's point of view unfortunately that's not best for a victim of child sexual abuse.

TONY JONES: You're saying there's a commercial interest operating behind the scenes?

JASON PARKINSON: Clearly is there is quite a strong commercial interest. And I think that's been born out in a number of cases that have just come forward.

TONY JONES: The other key legal battle is that over precedence. There was a very significant legal precedence set with the so called Ellis case quite recently.

What are the implications of that for victims who are fighting against the Church?

JASON PARKINSON: Well the implication appears to be that the Church can't be sued of itself. Apparently they're like scotch mist, they're just not there.

And in the case of Ellis, where he was abused by a parish priest, the court the Church was able to argue, successfully I might add that it wasn't the Church he should be suing but the trustees of that local parish.

Now generally those trustees are the parishioners who may be doing the bookkeeping on a voluntary basis or arranging the flowers and also with child sexual abuse many victims, sadly the majority of victims don't come forward for many years and those trustees are probably not alive.

So the Church will argue that there's no one left to sue. So then when it's made that difficult, that's when the Church says well there's something we can do. If you come to Towards Healing we will try to sort something out of this wreckage and that's when people, like we say, is not getting fair and just compensation.

TONY JONES: You are taking 30 cases, I think it is, of Marist boys from the Marist Brothers School in Canberra to court for all of whom are alleged victims of sexual abuse by brothers who were teaching in that school. I mean are you concerned that that precedent will be used against you?

JASON PARKINSON: Yes, it's already been raised. The Church through the Marist brothers stated that it was the trustees of the Marist Brothers who ran the school.

Now they told us that in January of this year and indeed on the wall of the school it's written in stone that they are the proper body. Now on the last day of the financial year, they wrote to us apologising that they'd made a mistake, that in fact the trustees don't run the school and think don't know who does run the school.

Now that makes it very difficult because we're then put in a position where we can't sue the proper entity of the school and we've got to do what people haven't done for decades in this country and we've got to go and sue individuals.

So we're going to have to sue past principals, past vice principals, and even some teachers who are in positions of authority at the school.

TONY JONES: So the Church is effectively divorcing itself from its own brothers and priests and their activities over the years?

JASON PARKINSON: That's right. That's the situation we're in at the moment. And this is what is so difficult in running these cases.

We hear of the Church wanting to make apologies and we hear of the question of whether or not the Pope's going to apologise when he comes to Australia.

Quite frankly apologies just go so far. It would be far better if the Pope were to tell those who run his Church in Australia to take responsibility.

Responsibility is what we need, not more apologies. And if they take responsibility then they can set to make amends for what has occurred to these children.

TONY JONES: Jason Parkinson, that's all we have time for now. Obviously you've raised a number of extremely complex issues but we thank you very much for coming on the program to talk about it tonight.

JASON PARKINSON: Thanks very much Tony.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation ~~ Lateline Tuesday July 8 2008

Robert Kaiser joins Lateline

Reporter: Tony Jones

Writer and journalist Robert Blair kaiser has been covering the Catholic church since the 1960s, when he was Time Magazine's Vatican correspondent. He joined Lateline from Melbourne.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Well Robert Blair Kaiser is a writer and journalist who has been covering the Catholic Church since the 1960's, when he was Time magazine's Vatican correspondent.

He is a contributing editor for Newsweek, and writes about religious affairs for a variety of international publications. He joins us now from Melbourne.

Thanks for coming in.


TONY JONES: You've chosen a very interesting time to visit Australia obviously, so can I ask first your views as an outsider of what's been going on with this case that Cardinal Pell has been struggling to deal with over the past 24 hours?

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: Well I've been watching with fascination for the last 20 minutes here and I want to say one thing to Jason Parkinson, I remind him that Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice".

He's only following the injunctions of Jesus as far as we know and he should be proud of himself. Now as far as Cardinal Pell is concerned I think he's a good man but I think he's a victim of the system.

The system that trained him from his early days in the seminary to think that the power of the Church was absolute, that the Pope was an absolute ruler, ruling absolutely and that if he ever made bishop he would have the same power. He would be able to rule absolutely.

And I'm reminded of Lord Aktin who pointed out once rather famously that all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely and here we have a good example.

Now George Pell's not the only bishop in the world, many bishops are doing the same thing.

TONY JONES: We better jump in and point out we're not talking corruption here, I know you were speaking metaphorically.

Cardinal Pell said he read a document imperfectly and said he made a mistake. He acknowledged that mistake today.

What do you make of his attempt to explain away these contradictory letters and the fact that he didn't follow the dictates of the investigation he himself set up?

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: I don't believe it for a minute. When I saw Cardinal Mahoney on the stand in Stockton, California denying he knew anything about an abusing priest in Stockton, California. I didn't believe Cardinal Mahoney.

You can sort of tell, and the jury didn't believe Cardinal Mahoney and I don't think if any independent observer watching Cardinal Pell's news conference today he was telling the truth.

He was backing and filling and humming and haing. He just doesn't want to take responsibility.

TONY JONES: Can I ask you as someone who has watched the Vatican closely for many, many years now, do you, given the Pope is going to be here in a very short time, how closely will they be watching events in Australia right now?

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: Who are they Tony?

TONY JONES: I presume the advisers of the Pope, the sort of people who look ahead before he comes to a place to make sure he doesn't fall into any traps?

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: There's a certain pressure on Benedict XVI to apologise. I don't know what that would do. Apologies are mere words. I think the bottom line here is how do we make sure that it doesn't happen again?

We have to make good what happened in the past but the main thing that most members of the Church are concerned about is the future. What can we do to get to the cause of this horrible thing that's happened? This may be the worst chapter in the history of the Church?

TONY JONES: I suspect some people might think the inquisition was somewhat worse but that's a long way back in history.

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: Right, right, I wasn't there.

TONY JONES: OK, let's stick with what you know in the past 30 years or more.

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: It seems to me that the Church is two Roman and not enough Catholic. And the followers of Vatican 2, the 2500 bishops who try to update the Church, said the Church should be less Roman and more Catholic.

Now what does that mean? It means that power has to be decentralised and that the Pope ought to allow or, if he doesn't allow, the Churches in Australia and Canada, the United States and Great Britain and so forth ought to go independent.

Now what does that mean? Does that mean that they're going to be in schism, no, not really. There's a model, an ancient model of local churches governing themselves.

We have 20 autochthonous home grown churches in the Middle East mainly the Melchites, the Marinates, the Cops, the Byzantines, and so forth, who are in communion with the Pope but they have their own governance, their own clergy, some married, some unmarried, they're own liturgy, their own language, their own culture, they're an in-cultrated church.

And I think that model can be applied to modern times and we can be a much more responsible, accountable church in a local situation where the bishop is not appointed by the Pope but elected by the people.

TONY JONES: That obviously raises the question of what you think is actually going on with these abuse cases now over many years.

I mean do you think the responsibility for that lies somewhere deep in the heart of the Church doctrine, I mean back in the Vatican, that if it were changed and became more democratic would that solve that problem?

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: I think it would have to. That's the basic problem is that these people, people like Cardinal Pell, he's a good man but he's been caught up in the system he's almost a victim of the system.

He's been trained to think traditionally, he cannot think outside the box. Now it may be impossible for him to think outside the box.

In my novel, Cardinal Mahoney, I have him being challenged to think outside the box and he says to the hero, one of the hero's in the novel "This I thought outside the box I wouldn't be a cardinal today".

So you kind of have to go along with the system unless you have the courage to stand up and say enough already. We've been living under this ancient system for 1,000 years that was ok at one time perhaps.

But we're living in a bottom up kind of world and we still have a top down kind of church where people are not given a voice, a vote, or citizenship in their church and I think we've got to seize it.

Public opinion has to come forth here and we have to start getting vocal. We have to start growing up and demanding that this is our Church.

TONY JONES: Now part of that ancient system that you've described is a doctrine of celibacy for priests. Now the requirement, in fact, that they go against their own natures.

I mean is that part of what's happening here? That the repression of sexual behaviour creates aberrations?

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: Well the Church has a long, terrible history with anything to do with sex. It's anti-sexual, anti-woman for centuries. It goes way, way, way back.

It's a misogyny, it's a fear of woman, it creates a bird like an eagle that only has one wing and it flies around in circles. An eagle needs two wings. In other words we need men and women in the Church.

Women have to have equal say so and they're third class citizens. We've got the clergy, we've got the laity and then we've got a particular form of the laity called women and they do most of the work in the Church and they have very little say so.

So we've got to right that imbalance right away. But one of the chief causes and your Geoffrey Robinson, Bishop Robinson, said this very well in his 15 city tour of the United States recently where he linked celibacy with the aura of well, celibacy means sexless, right and that gives a priest an aura of holiness.

And that helps the seducing priest do whatever he wants with these little kids because he's holy, after all, and whatever he wants to do they say oh well, he must be acting like Jesus and whatever he does, well, I better go along with it because he's got the aura of holiness about him and as a consequence they can't even tell their parents.

Maybe for 20, 30 years they suppress this terrible memory and they are really screwed up. Psychologically maybe forever. Some of them even commit suicide, which is horrible.

TONY JONES: We should recall, however, and I'm afraid this is going to be our last question, we should recall that Geoffrey Robinson he's been virtually branded a heretic by the Church and so it's not likely any of the changes you're talking about even listening to him, are actually going to happen.

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: As I understand the statement of the Australian bishops, they called him a heretic because he dared criticise John Paul II for not doing enough about the sex scandal.

That's not heresy, that's just criticising the boss. He could get fired but that's not heresy. We're not talking about the faith, I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth so forth.

Geoff Robinson believes, in fact he's more loyal to the Pope than many Vatican functionaries that I I've known.

TONY JONES: Robert Blair Kaiser we could talk to you all night obviously, maybe we'll get a chance to do that another time. But for now that's where we have to leave it.

We thank you very much for taking the time to come and talk to us

ROBERT BLAIR KAISER: Thank you very much, Tony.