On December 6 last year, District Court Judge Roy Ellis handed down a remarkable decision.
It acknowledged that the criminal justice system was tainted with anti-Catholic bias, resulting in an unjust 12 month jail sentence (reduced to 6 months of home detention) being imposed on the former Adelaide archbishop, Philip Wilson.
While setting Wilson free, Judge Ellis addressed what he termed the ‘elephant in the room’: the media and the mob and its demand that Wilson be jailed ‘simply on the basis that he is a Catholic priest’.
Ellis went on to say:
This may amount to perceived pressure for a court to reach a conclusion which seems to be consistent with the direction of public opinion, rather than being consistent with the rule of law that requires a court to hand down individual justice in its decision-making processes.
The potential for media pressure to impact judicial independence may be subtle or indeed subversive in the sense that it is the elephant in the room that no one sees or acknowledges or wants to see or acknowledge.
In case you have any doubts about this bias, consider this.
The media simply was not interested in covering Wilson’s acquittal to the same extent that it trumpeted the now overturned and completely unjust guilty verdict or crowed at his resignation ‘in disgrace’, as shown below by Google Trends. It just didn’t fit the vicious anti-Catholic narrative the majority of journalists want to run.
And even the media that covered the acquittal still left its bias firmly on display. For instance, the ABC story reporting it started with these words:
After less than four months in home detention…
Instead of these words:
After more than three months in home detention…
Both of these sentences report the same facts. But the former is a tantrum that Wilson is free, whereas the second emphasises his subjection to an unjust punishment.
I guess we all know where the ABC stands on bishops: the key should be thrown away, regardless of guilt.
Five days after one court acknowledged that the media and mob are filled with a bloodlust against Catholic priests to such an extent that it is compromising the justice system, another court convicted the most famous Australian cleric of them all: Cardinal Pell.
Yet in the wall to wall exultation at this verdict, it’s hard to find a sentence anywhere about the Wilson case or its disturbing implications.
Pell was only in court after the Victorian police commenced ‘Operation Tethering’ in 2013. It was an investigation into Pell yet it didn’t have a single complaint to probe. But the police were on Pell’s case anyway and went sniffing for anything.
It was a classic case of build it and they will come. And come they did.
I have no idea whether Pell’s accusers have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse. They may well have. However, studies have shown that those with PTSD can have their memories distorted by similar events witnessed in the news or media. And Operation Tethering went looking for dirt on Pell in an environment where he was consistently smeared by the media as the face of child abuse.
Many of the allegations against him did not even make it to the committal hearing. Half of those that did were dropped with the judge noting that:
…the most serious offending could not have occurred in the time frame alleged.
And now we all know about Pell’s guilty verdict because the remaining charges against him have fallen away, resulting in the lifting of a suppression order. But this fact is only mentioned in passing.
In other words, the only reason the mob is baying is because the latest claim against Pell was hopeless, joining a long line of others.
All we have left is the grossly fantastic: we are supposed to believe that Cardinal Pell abused two boys in the busiest room in St Patrick’s Cathedral after Sunday Mass. While the door was open. The Archbishop of Melbourne supposedly did this after disappearing from the rear of his own procession for some unknown reason, in some unknown way and without the notice of his attendants. And it’s claimed that the abuse occurred even though he knew that at any moment this procession would march into the sacristy after him.
Oh, I almost forgot.
Pell was also vested. Over his clerical suit was a ground-length robe called an alb with no splits. Over that was a cincture (rope belt) that also tightly held in place a scarf-like stole that crosses over itself at the priest’s front and then extends down past the waist. And on top of it all there was a heavy and ornate poncho-like chasuble that also reaches towards the knees.
The two choir boys he supposedly abused also left the same procession (again without notice), dressed in robes as well. Somewhere that clothing disappeared but no one seems to know where.
And the icing on it all: after the abuse the boys never spoke about it to anyone, not even themselves. However one of the boys, now deceased from a heroin overdose, did tell his mother that he had never been abused. Twice.
Twenty years later, after the Victorian police’s empty Pell probe commenced, the surviving boy came forward and on his word alone guilt was declared.
And this just happened to be the second go around. Pell was put through the trial twice after the first attempt resulted in a hung jury.
If that is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, then you could jail a politician on allegations he raped an entire schoolboy football team on the floor of parliament while the division bells rang out. Or you could dig up and convict St Mary McKillop for molesting alien children on another planet.
In other words, no one is safe in Australia anymore, especially if they are Catholic. The lynch mob is on the prowl and, as the Wilson case proves, it has infected the justice system.
The Catholic Church has had clergy who have terribly abused children. It is still failing to address this problem, as demonstrated by the fact that ex-Cardinal McCarrick has only just been defrocked, even though the knowledge of his abuse was well known in the Vatican three popes ago.
This evil will not be addressed until the Church publicly confronts and removes the lavender mafia networks outed by Archbishop Vigano last year.
But it most certainly will not be addressed by an unjust and malicious anti-Catholic witch hunt that does nothing more than discredit the justice system itself and is as likely to jail the innocent with the guilty. Or, even worse, jail the innocent while the guilty remain free.
I have served hundreds of masses as the master of ceremonies. I have never seen a priest, let alone an archbishop, leave a procession. Ever.
And I know what sacristies are like after mass.
The allegations against Pell are impossible to believe for anyone who has the slightest understanding of what happens inside a church and its sacristy after Sunday mass.
That is why the anti-Catholic bias tainting the justice system that resulted in the unjust conviction of Archbishop Wilson needs to be addressed.
It must be spoken about.
Bizarrely, not even the Australian bishops are prepared to do this. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has not issued a single media release about this remarkable judgement. However, it did release five statements about Archbishop Wilson’s trial, guilty verdict and resignation, effectively submitting to the mob and throwing Wilson under a bus.
This points to a hierarchy of the Church that is punch drunk, frightened and that has lost any self-preservation mechanism.
The bishops need to find it. Or they’ll quickly join Cardinal Pell in the slammer as well. After all, when it comes to being priests, all of them are guilty as charged.