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Rolling Stone’s Dishonest Hit On Cardinal Pell – OpEd


If there were an award for yellow journalism, Rolling Stone would be at the top of the list.

In 2015, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism demolished a piece by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about gang rape at the University of Virginia. In 2011, I demolished an article by the same writer for her hit job on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Now Rolling Stone is back with a scurrilous story by Nicholas Lord on Australian Cardinal George Pell.

Lord begins his article by citing the recent case where Pell was sentenced for sexual abuse. The author accuses Pell of cornering “two thirteen-year-old choirboys in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral” wherein he forced  “one boy to perform oral sex while the other flinched away.”

What Lord did not say is that the boy who “flinched away” died of drug abuse, but not before telling his mother on two occasions that Pell never abused him or anyone else. Importantly, over 20 witnesses who marched in a procession with the two boys the morning of the alleged abuse said the boys never left the line of march to be with Pell in the sacristy after Mass. A priest who helped Pell with his vestments in the sacristy that day confirms that no boys were present.

Lord says another boy was molested by Pell at a camp. He leaves out salient facts.

The accusation by a Melbourne man who said he was abused by Pell in 1962, when he was 12-years-old, was thrown out by a judge when nothing could be substantiated. Not a single person who worked at the camp supported the charges, and all of them signed statements that were favorable to Pell.

Moreover, the accuser had been convicted 39 times for offenses ranging from assault to drug use. Indeed, he was a violent drug addict who served four years in prison. He drove drunk, beat people, and took amphetamines. I guess Lord missed all of that.

Lord accuses Pell of doing nothing to stop Australia’s worst sex offender, Gerald Ridsdale, who raped victims in a presbytery in Ballarat where both men resided.

Conveniently, Lord does not mention that the authorities dismissed a case against Pell and he was completely exonerated. Also, Pell was accused of joking about Ridsdale’s crimes at a funeral Mass in Ballarat. But there was no Mass that day and the priest whom Pell was allegedly joking with was living someplace else when the supposed incident took place.

Lord rolls out Lyndon Monument and Damian Dignan, both of whom claim Pell abused them. What a pair they are.

If Lord were not so lazy, or vindictive, he would know that Monument was a big boozer, a drug addict, a drug dealer, and a thug who beat and stalked his girlfriend. An ex-con, he has also been arrested for burglary,  assault, and making threats to kill. Damian also has a record of violence, and has been arrested for drunk driving.

Not surprisingly, Monument and Dignan have also made accusations against former teachers. Regarding Pell, they claim he inappropriately touched them while throwing them off his shoulders in a swimming pool in the 1970s.

True to form, Lord is dead wrong about crimen sollicitationis. He refers to it as a directive issued by Pope John XXIII which “threatened to excommunicate Catholic officials who reported pedophile priests.”

In fact, the 1962 document, “The Crime of Solicitation,” was about the seal of confession. It allowed for a priest to be thrown out of the priesthood if he engaged in sexual solicitation when hearing confession. It also made it clear that if the penitent were to tell someone what happened in the confessional (perhaps another priest), he or she had 30 days to report the incident to the bishop or face excommunication.

If anything, this showed how serious the Vatican was about the offense—it threatened to punish the penitent for not turning in the guilty priest.

Why did Rolling Stone publish this trash? The answer is given, rather unwittingly, by Lord. “To liberals [in Australia], Pell was the enemy. He fought the ‘secular agenda,’ gay rights, abortion, IVF, euthanasia, sex outside of marriage.”

That’s right. Cardinal Pell is the poster boy for Catholic-hating secularists, not only in his home country but around the world. They hate him for his orthodoxy and the fact that he was, until recently, the third most senior cleric in the Catholic Church. No matter, he will go down in history as the biggest scapegoat for clergy sexual abuse in the history of the Catholic Church.

Those who know the facts about former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and Cardinal George Pell, know there is a world of difference between the two of them. Pell does not deserve to be spoken about in the same breath as McCarrick, but to those who hate the Church, they are one and the same. This is pure bunk.

Contact Rolling Stone editor: [email protected]

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William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

One thought on “Rolling Stone’s Dishonest Hit On Cardinal Pell – OpEd

  • March 20, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Defending a convicted paedophile, is there no depths you will not stoop to? Like it or not Pell was convicted in a court of law. He’s guilty as charged. End of.

    No wonder we have our critics when people like you try to defend the indefensible. For shame Mr Donohue, you do not speak for Catholics, you only speak for reactionaries like yourself who only want to return to the dark days when the church policed itself. I for one welcome secular justice, it’s long overdue.


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