Anthony Foster died last month after a fall. He was a 64 year old Melbourne husband and father who spent a great chunk of his life campaigning against the Catholic Church and for the victims of sexual abuse by priests. Two of his daughters had been repeatedly raped by a priest at primary school. This had devastated his family and he was given a state funeral on June the 6th.
‘Hell on the Way to Heaven’ is the book written by Anthony’s wife, Chrissie Foster.
In the meantime, Cardinal George Pell, who has been accused of having covered up a staggering number of sex abuse claims, most of which happened in Melbourne and Ballarat in the 70’s and 80’s, when he was a priest there, has now been personally charged with sex offences. He will travel to Australia to defend himself and Pope Francis will let him take his leave until he has done so. TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE! Why has Pope Francis appointed George Pell as head of Vatican finances, effectively making him the number three man in the Vatican, at a time when serious doubts had already been raised about what Cardinal Pell had known?
The extent of the crisis was revealed in February when it was announced seven percent of priests in Australia’s Catholic Church were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades.
Commissioners surveyed Catholic Church authorities and found that between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people reported they had been abused at more than 1,000 Catholic institutions across Australia, said Gail Furness, the lead lawyer assisting Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In 2016 the Commission had interviewed Cardinal Pell by video link from Rome, as he had refused to travel back to Australia to be questioned, on the basis of health problems. On that occasion $169,000 had been raised in Australia to send 15 victims of sex abuse by clergy to Rome to watch the questioning.
Australian comedian Tim Minchin was one of the people who helped raise the money by writing and performing the song ‘Come Home (Cardinal Pell)’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtHOmforqxk
After travelling across the globe from Australia all the way to Rome, the victims had written a heartfelt letter to Pope Francis asking that he meet with them. They stated that meeting with him would have helped enormously with their healing process. Pope Francis REFUSED.
Now I ask: why?
And why is the Italian media so quiet on this subject?
Pope Francis is a spiritual leader, not a political one, so no amount of good performance on Pell’s side in cleaning out Vatican finances can excuse the lack of compassion towards Australian victims.
This issue remains a thorn in the Church’s side, because the sheer numbers of abuse allegations point towards a system failure, whereby one has to ask whether forcing priests to be celibate and also not allowing women to become priests are vital factors in the causation of these heinous crimes against innocent children that have been committed and mostly gone unpunished. The moral authority of the Catholic Church cannot survive until these issues have been addressed.