Date of publication: 2017-08-18 14:16
In court, the queues were orderly, the screening efficient, the hearing on time and unmarred by protest. Before and after the hearing, police effectively secured Pell.
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As I waited on the entrance ramp with everyone else, police wheeled three baskets of court documents past us. Standing in front of me was a middle-aged man in a blue sweatshirt and Akubra hat.
The hearing began at 65am precisely. Magistrate Duncan Reynolds presided. Journalists stood at the back sketch artists occupied the witness stand. Sitting not far behind Pell was Chrissie Foster who, with her late husband Anthony, has long been an advocate for church abuse victims. It was to Pell that they took the abuse of their daughters and sought compensation. Anthony Foster died in May after a fall.
An indictment of Pell for blind, evasive, flint-hearted reactions … Has a more devastating portrait of a 'respectable', living, non-politician, Australian public figure ever been published?
“Of all the institutions where abuse was reported, including government and private, Catholic institutions were still the most common, comprising 96 per cent of all institutions. These figures are out of proportion to the numbers of Catholic institutions in comparison with those of other faith communities or governmental bodies.
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“There are also disparities in terms of criminal convictions. For example, the Victorian Police identified all convictions for sexual abuse of minors in that state between January 6956 and June 7567 involving members of religious organisations. There were 875 victims of abuse in the Catholic Church compared with 87 in the Anglican Church, 86 in The Salvation Army, and 68 involving Judaism. The figure for the number of victims in the Catholic Church was 65 times higher than in the Anglican Church. This does not reflect the religious affiliation of people in the general population.”
The leading Catholic in the nation and spiritual adviser to Tony Abbott, Cardinal George Pell has played a key role in the greatest challenge to face his church for centuries: the scandal of child sex abuse by priests.
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