The Atheist Foundation of Australia welcomes the news that George Pell has been promoted within the Catholic Church to the position of Prefect for the Economy of the Holy See. A main function of this role is management and reform of the Vatican's finances.
The news continues to flow from the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse of the systemic cover ups and stand-over tactics used by churches to prevent justice for the victims. It’s reasonable to anticipate that examples of abuse of this type are going to continue to become public and that the public outrage and compensation claims will continue to grow.
What the Vatican needs right now is a man who has his priorities in the correct order. Will George Pell be prepared to open the Vatican finances to scrutiny, and make them available to compensation claims by victims?
In the heat of the lead up to the Royal Commission battle, he famously stood his ground and demonstrated that his church clearly comes before the rights of any victims explaining the church protocol for priests who hear a confession from another priest of child sexual rape.
"If that is done outside the confessional (it can be passed on), (But) the Seal of Confession is inviolable. If the priest knows beforehand about such a situation, the priest should refuse to hear the confession. That would be my advice, and I would never hear the confession of a priest who is suspected of such a thing."
Why not simply contact the authorities for each and every allegation?
Abuse survivors and advocacy groups rightly consider this appointment to be a slap to their collective faces. George Pell was singled out by the Victorian Inquiry for his central role in the Catholic Church’s repeated failures to recognise and address abuse, and properly compensate and support victims. He is also due to appear before the Royal Commission, which may bring further evidence of this to light. Yet despite this context George Pell has been promoted to Rome, rather than censured, by the church. The church almost daily tells the world that it has learned from the mistakes of the past. Has it? Is George Pell's appointment a sign of a future in which victims will receive fair compensation and perpetrators will be pursued with vigor, or a continuation of past practices?
Congratulations George Pell. The Vatican clearly recognizes and appreciates your value. Will you do whatever it takes to protect the riches of this archaic club, or move swiftly to make church assets available to victims? If this appointment reflects a commitment to past practices, the Catholic Church will speed its demise and disappoint many believers and non believers alike. Do the right thing George!
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
PO Box 1062
Lane Cove NSW 1595