Yesterday was a day of sadness. Let me explain. It was announced that Cardinal Pell, the third highest ranking official in the Catholic church, was convicted on a number of counts of child molestation. I think this makes it a sad day for the following reasons.
One, it reminds of how many children across the world have been victimised by some people in power in all churches. Whether it be residential schools, orphanages, schools for the handicapped, church choirs, or whatever, some adults have terrorised generations of children. Countless studies show that these abused children are much more likely, than children who have not been abused, to commit child abuse themselves, use drugs, commit suicide, and have problems in society in general. Children who are hurt, are more likely to hurt themselves and others. So I truly feel for the victims of these crimes.
Secondly, whether the conviction for the charges holds for Cardinal Pell or not, I do have some feelings for the Cardinal. If he is guilty, how did society create such a monster? How many people were complicit in these crimes and turned a blind eye to his acts? How did he ever think he is ok? How do we allow power structures to bury the claims of the innocent? I do believe that if Cardinal Pell is guilty, then he deserves to be punished. If he is innocent of the charges, like any wrongly accused person, I feel sickened that anyone gets such hatred hurled upon them. But I do know that for every wrongful accusation against one person, there are countless real stories of abuse and so many go unreported. If for some reason Cardinal Pell is eventually wins an appeal of the case, it is still the duty of churches to ensure that all its ministry agents are not abusing their power. No one has the right to abuse. No one deserves to be abused.
Thirdly, I feel sorry for people of faith. All denominations, all religious groups have had leaders who have victimised the vulnerable. This has caused a great deal of anger to be expressed against faith groups in general. In Australia, in Canada, and across the globes, more and more people are turning against organised religion, and for many it is because of such stories of abuse of power. The Christian church and other faith groups have done many things which we cannot be proud of in the past. In the light of the story of Cardinal Pell's alleged abuse, all faith groups will face anger once more. People will be less likely to enter any church, mosque, temple, or synagogue. The many good works that we have done and continued to do, will still be tainted in many people's minds. This makes me sad- help that we give is forgotten because of the acts of a few.
No matter what happens with yesterday's announced verdict, and whatever appeals lie ahead, yesterday was a sad day. For it again reveals that we don't treat each other well. Too many of us either abuse power or turn a blind eye to the abuse. Too often we neglect the victim and blame them rather than the abuser. Too often we say that abuse could not have happened because this person is a good bloke or is so influential or the victims are not trustworthy because they have not lived perfect lives because they are still dealing with their abuse. But as a society, we must learn to call out the abuse. We must not let, those who prey on the weak, to be able to get away with their heinous acts. Yesterday was much more than Cardinal Pell and his victims. Yesterday was about how we as humanity deal with those who are vulnerable. May we do a better job. Blessings.