Saturday, March 5, 2016
Sydney priest slams Cardinal George Pell in damning radio interview
news.com.au (Australia) March 4, 2016 A SYDNEY priest of 30 years has slammed Cardinal George Pell’s “appalling” performance while facing the royal commission in to child sex abuse in a damning radio interview. Father Michael Kelly, a well-known Jesuit priest, took to the ABC airwaves to say what he really thought about the Australian cardinal who he has known for more than 30 years. “He’s one of the best developed narcissists I’ve ever met in my life,” he told interviewer Wendy Harmer. “He’s astonishing at the way in which he can deploy his insensitivity; he seems just impervious to human experience.” The Catholic priest, who conceded at one point he was sacked by Pell, was very critical of Pell’s four days on the stand at the commission, where he gave evidence and was interrogated over his knowledge of systemic sex abuse within the church. But Father Kelly said he wasn’t surprised. “I think I share the dismay and disgust of a great many people, Catholic and others, with the Cardinal’s display, and the interesting thing about it of course is it’s just made plain to the world who he is and what he’s like. This is something of international reach, but I must say I’m not surprised,” he said. “He’s a bully. He’s just a bully. He gets exactly what he wants by standing over people, and as one priest in Melbourne said to me recently, he has lived by the sword, he’s going to die by the sword.” Father Kelly said he agreed with the suggestion of the senior counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, that much of Pell’s testimony around his lack of knowledge of abuse and paedophilia within the church was “implausible”. “He can feign a collapsed memory he can say what he likes,” he said. “This sort of stuff has been talked about among the clergy throughout the country … it was clearly well known and much discussed in clerical circles, and if he didn’t hear it, he must have had plugs in his ears.” Though he was very critical of the cardinal’s performance on the stand, Father Kelly said he did see positives in the events in Rome of the past few days. “(The Vatican) can’t avoid it. The bottom line is, George Pell is global news. He’s a big man and he’s a big bully and he’s got a lot of people off side all around the place. This particular appalling sequence of interviews and discussions with the royal commission is global news,” he said. The priest also used his airtime to praise Australian survivors of sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests who had travelled to Rome to witness Pell’s testimony and meet with the Vatican’s third-in-charge. “I think they’ve conducted themselves very responsibly. The question I’d ask is what’s the point in talking to Pell,” he said. The group of survivors, led by Ballarat man David Ridsdale, has since met with the cardinal. In a prepared statement, Pell told reporters he had heard about a dozen Ballarat survivors’ stories. “It was hard,” he said. One parent of victims is Anthony Foster, whose daughters were abused by a Catholic priest, leading to having killed herself and the other being seriously disabled. He said he was not satisfied with the meeting. “We got somewhere. I think there’ll be some pretty damning findings about what George Pell did, but there’s still a long way to go. George Pell was the auxiliary bishop in our area, looking after the priests who did that to my girls,” he said.