Now is a hard time for the Catholic Church in Australia, with the first stage of a “Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse” held in the regional city of Ballarat this week.
Cardinal George Pell has been the focus of a lot of attention because he was a roommate of a notorious pedophile ex-Father Ridsdale. While the ex-Father continued to be moved around by the church to shift that problem on, George went onwards and upwards to become the Archbishop of Melbourne and then the Archbishop of Sydney (more of a sideways step I think) and then he really started picking up some interest in Rome where he has now risen to the dizzy heights of Head Honcho of Economy for the Vatican (some say he was just pipped to the pope by Francis!).
Even though His Holiest George has now been implicated in knowing about Ridsdale’s interests (probably since the 1970s) and discussing the problem as part of a Ballarat church leadership group (in the 1980s) and even accused of bribing a victim (in the 1990’s), I think just like with FIFA and Sepp Blatter, now is the time for us to all stand behind and support HH George.
Sure, some people might think that he was responsible for everything that went wrong in the Church during his watch, but really, like Sepp says, if someone wants to do something wrong they will. Ridsdale might be a pedophile but he isn’t stupid – who knows, he might have shut his bedroom door back in the day at St. Alipius (do they expect George to have X-ray vision or something? The man is not God, for Christ’s sake!). And I don’t know, maybe he just said vague things in confession, like “I touched some stuff I shouldn’t have, please forgive me”.
And it is totally understandable that HH George does not remember everything. If you asked me about our meetings at the shop I would have no idea if we talked about our stock of red ties last week, let alone back in the 1970s! You just cover so much stuff. I don’t think Madge has ever raised anything about pedophilia but with all of the other performance issues that get discussed (probably just like at a presbytery), you know, I actually can’t say for sure. So what are you going to do? Arrest me too?
Like with Russia’s World Cup, we need to honour our commitments. If we start breaking them just because of pedophilia, where will it stop? I once went to a wedding just outside of Ballarat in a lovely little church where we had the big man himself presiding – he was Melbourne's Archbishop at that time so we were very lucky indeed (I felt a bit queasy afterwards, but at the time it definitely felt like the closest I had ever been to God.) If, like some people are now saying, HH George should be forced to resign, what will happen to this marriage? They haven’t thought of that now have they? Will people say that that my friends aren’t married anymore? And then what about their kids? Will that mean they become bastards? (Sure they are little pricks but they’re still alright, at least while they are of God anyway). No, we need to honor this marriage just like we need to honor HH George.
He has made mistakes. As soon as he saw Ridsy put on those black wrap-around sunglasses to wear to court, George should have realized that something was up. Even I would have had enough sense to ask Jesus Himself to take those off before offering to help Him with the cross. You never know who is watching. But isn’t it bad enough that my married friends – who were already questioning their vows – now have to question their choice of priest too? (If only they went for one of the normal little ones it would have been so much easier now, and cheaper then – by George the man does have a holy appetite!)
So until the FBI comes to arrest HH George, and Sepp Blatter too, I say let us continue playing on the field that God has given us.