Archbishop says don’t be ‘too quick to judge’ Pell, but parishioners struggle with faith


St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia.  Suggested reading: Suggested Reading for Finding Individual Religion, in Face of Collapsing Catholic Church

Source: The Guardian

By Melissa Davey

Despite saying he could not comment “too much” on the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for child sexual abuse, with the matter filed for appeal, the archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, nonetheless urged parishioners not to be “too quick to judge” the disgraced prelate.

“If we are too quick to judge we can end up joining the demonisers or the apologists, those baying for blood or those in denial,” he said as he delivered Sunday mass at St Mary’s cathedral. “Our readings remind us that things are not always what they seem; that we must look beneath the surface and allow truth and justice to unfold in God’s good time.”

Pell, the one-time financial controller of the Vatican and confidant to Pope Francis,was found guilty of one count of sexual penetration of a child and four counts of an indecent act with a child. Many Catholics have been left reeling since the news broke on Tuesday and feeling torn as they attended mass around the country.

“It would have been reasonable to stay at home,” Father Andrew Hayes told congregants as he presided over mass at St Mary’s parish in Ararat, a small town 200km west of Melbourne.

“I am also ashamed and embarrassed.”

Ararat is less than 100km from Ballarat, where Pell was born and later became a parish priest. The towns of Ararat and Ballarat have for decades been grappling with the impact of the notorious paedophile priests who once wreaked harm there. While the Vatican and prominent Australian Catholics have avoided making comment on Pell’s guilt, saying they are awaiting the appeal process, Hayes told parishioners: “The church shouldn’t look like an angry bull, to be stared down. The church should look like Jesus.”

Hayes was upfront in confronting the imprisonment of Pell. “This week as we begin mass our Cardinal is in jail, having been found guilty of disgraceful offences against children,” Hayes said.

“I am so sorry for what this church has done to you. I am sorry for the abuse by clergy, the lifetimes of torment and the loss of life.”

His words may have been of some comfort to Catholics who are victims of abuse, who know people who are, and who are struggling to reconcile their faith with the historical and ongoing failures of the church and its hierarchy to children.

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