Presumption of guilt, “schadenfreude”, gloating are predictable reactions from many inside and outside the Church, as Australian Cardinal George Pell flies home from Rome to face his prosecutors. Accused, like so many other members of the clergy, of acts of pederasty allegedly committed decades ago, Pell has chosen to face the music, rather than to exploit his immunity within the Vatican, as did his predecessor as CFO of the multinational we call the Catholic Church, the infamous Archbishop Marchinkus – the buddy my boss leaned on to accelerate the granting of my dispensation from the priesthood by Pope Paul VI. (But that’s another story . . . ).
Pell seems confident that he will be acquitted. So was my classmate, Brother Christopher (Billy) Wade, recently convicted of the pedophilia practised by no less than 20% of his Marist confreres, and awaiting sentence in September. If Pell is declared guilty, I will find it impossible – in spite of what Jesus said – to forgive him. But even if he is declared innocent, many will still consider him worthy of the millstone Jesus decreed for those guilty of scandal. I will not be one of them.