'Reverential Fear' ➖ The Only Reform That Could Tackle Clerical Sexual Abuse

Geoffrey Robertson explores in The Sydney Morning Herald ways to protect children from rapist priests and their leaders.

News of George Pell's conviction was a fitting end to a papal summit on child abuse which achieved nothing and began with other cardinals attributing the problem to homosexuals in the priesthood.

The reality is that priests abuse small boys not because they are gay but because they have the opportunity. Most are not even paedophiles, but rather sexually maladjusted, immature and lonely individuals unable to resist the temptation to exploit their power over children who are taught to revere them as the agents of God.

A church that has tolerated the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children – a crime against humanity in any definition – needs to face unpalatable truths and to make drastic reforms.
Cover-ups are no longer an option.

The magnitude of the crimes is well-established and the evidence of how the Vatican and its bishops hushed them up in order to protect the reputation and finances of the Catholic Church is fully proved.

By insisting upon its right to deal with allegations under medieval canon law weighted in favour of the defendant and providing no effective punishment, the church itself became complicit.

Continue Reading @ The Sydney Morning Herald

⏩ Geoffrey Robertson QC is a former UN Appeal Judge and author of The Case of the Pope (Penguin).


  1. This is not quite accurate. Most of the priests who abused WERE pedophiles. They knew from an early age they were attracted to minors and could only think of one occupation were they were given a role of authority, access to children, complaints unlikely to be believed and there was no expectation for them to marry. It was a match made in Hell not Heaven.

    Pell even alludes to this when he spoke of his 'sneaking calling to the Priesthood'. His actions regarding young boys goes back further than what he was convicted for.

    He also was in the postion to make issues regarding priests disappear, which he did on several occassions by moving Australia's most notorious pedophile priest around the country when families started to complain about him. His name is Gerald Risdale, and he shared a house with Pell in the Ballarat hell-hole for children in which many child-abusing priests raped huge numbers of children over the decades.

    Pell, in a further grotesque act was the Churches go-to-man to minimize the financial claims against the church for this abuse. It was named the 'Melbourne response'. It was nothing more than a slap in the face and put down to survivors, capping claims at 30 grand each and establishing that for legal purposes the Church had no corporate identity...therefore could not be sued. It was akin to putting Himmler in charge of the Holocaust museum.

    As bad as clerical abuse got in Ireland and the US, Australia ranks right up there with them. The Church made all the appropriate noises on TV regarding 'full-cooperation with the police' but the reality was very different.

    A detective involved in bring Pell to justice said that the Catholic Church's idea of co-operating 'was like a protestor laying on the road, not actively resisting but doing absolutely nothing to help the Police'.

    This Wednesday, Cardinal Pell will face justice. In an unusual move his sentencing will be broadcat live. Perhaps this will give a small sense of recourse to the innocent children who are now adults but too emotionally scarred to speak out today.

    But justice is too late for those who could not live with the pain any longer. 12 out of 33 children in ONE class took their own lives in adulthood, never to see those who destroyed their innocense brought to account.

  2. Steve - I can see how it would work both ways. Many who are paedophiles and many who are not. I guess it is even worse when they are not paedophiles: there is less a drive and more of a choice guiding them. I thought Robertson's book was very good.

    Time and again the Church has flashed its global child rape cartel credentials, yet people still delude themselves that the Church can be a moral teacher. There are many good religious people but the Church is not a good teacher.

  3. I wonder is there any data on the numbers taking up becoming a priest (I guess the literal number would be a Vatican secret)? Anecdotally , througout my (UK) Home Counties childhood , every priest in church had an Irish accent, and names like Fr Sheehan, or Fr Slattery. Now I never see an Irish connection on the occasions I attend, the scandals must of decimated recruitment in Ireland, now they target the third world to live a life of perpetual denial. It’s clearly pickling the sods.

  4. AM,

    I agree, none so blinkered...

    But i recently read an article regarding a book by a former Swiss Guard in the Vatican. He was sickened by the 'rampant' homosexuality he encountered and had unwanted advancements made from Cardinals down.

    I think it stems from not allowing priests to marry, which in itself was nothing more than a wealth grab by the church of old; that being priests were required to leave their possessions to the church upon their death.

    I'm not a christian but their are many useful and worthwhile stories in the Bible, unfortunately tainted by this insipidness.