Angrepene på kardinal George Pell

Det har blitt kjent over hele verden de siste dagene at den australske kardinalen, George Pell, er blitt anklaget for seksuelt misbruk (av ..? jeg vet ikke riktig hvem disse personene er, det blir nok kjent når rettsaken starter i midten av juli). Selv er jeg ganske usikker på om kardinal Pell virkelig har gjort noe galt, og har et åpent sinn så langt.

Noen mener ganske sikkert at dette er en svertekampanje mot ham, bl.a. Mercatornet skriver i dag:

… The national broadcaster, the ABC, and the flagship newspapers of the Fairfax press, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, have highlighted every rumour, no matter how implausible, and never wasted an opportunity to blacken Pell’s name.

To anyone who knows anything about Pell, the allegations are highly implausible. One of the first things that Pell did as Archbishop of Melbourne was to set up protocols for dealing with sex abuse. They were the first in the world. How likely is it that he would be an abuser himself? In 2001, Pell was transferred to Sydney as Archbishop. A few months later he was accused of abuse. He stepped down while his own protocols were applied to him. The case was not proven.

Pope Francis describes Pell as an honest and energetic man, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, has insisted strongly that he is “a man of integrity in his dealings with others, a man of faith and high ideals, a thoroughly decent man”. Despite the media’s campaign, many Australians regard the allegations as preposterous. Amongst his supporters there is no shame-faced sotto-voce mumbling that «he might have gone too far and after all these years he had it coming.»

George Pell’s problem is his strength of character. He was born two generations before Mark Zuckerberg, but the motto of Facebook, «move fast and break things», expresses something of his style. Even physically, at 6-foot-3-inches, he is an imposing figure. He is a blunt speaker, a tough and practical manager, a theological conservative, a supporter of the Pope, and an outspoken critic of contemporary social mores. He was the plumber of the Australian Catholic Church, the man who fearlessly waded into the sewer of its sex abuse scandal and cleared the blocked drains.

So Pell has no shortage of enemies. When Australia had a referendum on changing the head of state from the Queen of England, he was a leading supporter of Australia becoming a Republic. That was divisive. He opposes homosexual activism, which is divisive. He strongly opposes same-sex marriage, which is bitterly divisive.

He supported John Paul II to the hilt and amongst his clergy that was divisive. He set up his own sex-abuse protocol and amongst the Australian bishops that was divisive. He shook up the Melbourne seminary and that was divisive. In his role in the Vatican, he has worked hard to set finances right and root out corruption and that was divisive. …

Catholic Herald skriver også om dette, under overskriften: «Justice must be done in the Pell case – so please, stop the speculation.» De skriver også:

It is almost impossible to know what to think of the decision to charge Cardinal Pell. Victoria Police, who are bringing the charges, have not specified the number or nature of the accusations. It is not known who the accusers are, or when the alleged incidents are meant to have taken place. Consequently, snap reactions which jump to a conclusion of guilt, of the kind sadly experienced by many clerics and secular public figures, are beyond premature. As Victoria Police noted in their public announcement of the charges, they are as yet completely untested in any court.

Cardinal Pell made a statement to the press this morning in which he categorically denied any truth to any allegations of sexual abuse made against him. He also observed that the announcement has come at the end of years of investigation into him personally, and an ongoing series of “leaks and relentless character assassination” against him. Anyone familiar with the Australian press’s coverage of Cardinal Pell would find it difficult to dispute these observations. The level of speculation, commentary and prejudgment which descends upon any public figure linked to accusations of this kind can be overwhelming and can have an immediate impact upon integrity of the judicial process, civil or canonical. …

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