The hoopla over Cardinal George Pell’s first day in court, July 26, rivals the media hysteria over OJ. There is one important difference: unlike OJ, the hyperventilation over Pell is confined to select quarters.
At the Melbourne courthouse there will be dozens of professional victims, men and women—mostly men—who claim to have been molested decades ago. Though Pell has never been found guilty of anything—and God knows rapacious lawyers have tried to nail him several times—he is being treated by victims’ advocates as if he were Jack the Ripper. Journalists are having a field day.
One reporter who is basking in the limelight is Barney Zwartz. The Australian journalist has a piece in the National Catholic Reporter, a media outlet that rejects the Church’s teachings on sexuality, that smacks of bias.
“Even if he [Pell] is exonerated,” writes Zwartz, “mutterings from Rome suggest the 76-year-old will not return to his secretariat post. His credibility seems destroyed—largely self-inflicted in a series of appearances before official inquiries into how the church handled child sexual abuse.”
In other words, in the circles that Zwartz runs in, Pell is damaged goods, undone by his own behavior. But if Pell is finished, Zwartz needs to explain why he is the third highest cleric in the Vatican, a close confidant of Pope Francis. Moreover, it is not Pell’s credibility that is shot—it is Zwartz’s.
Proof: In 2002, Zwartz wrote that “an independent investigation by a retired non-Catholic judge cleared him [Pell],” yet in 2013, he wrote that Pell’s name has never been cleared. His duplicity undermines his credibility.
One more thing. It is inaccurate to say that the Church has been embroiled in a “child sexual abuse” scandal. In Australia, as I recently pointed out (click here), as in the United States, 8 in 10 of the victims were postpubescent males, meaning that the Church experienced a homosexual-driven scandal. It’s been homosexuality, not pedophilia, that accounts for the problem in both nations.
We will closely monitor the proceedings against Cardinal Pell, correcting the record when necessary.