As I sit down to try to put a few thoughts together, I am still trying to gather myself after hearing the shocking news made public on Tuesday 26 February. It is true that through the international media many had been aware of Cardinal Pell’s conviction last December, yet I was not prepared for its publication today.
Since there is an appeal pending, not much can be said at this stage, as we wait for justice to take its full course. For those in our community who have personally experienced abuse, this news once again opens up old wounds. I empathise with all abuse victims and their families, and pray for them that they might be able to find some healing. If I can be of any assistance in offering a space where stories of abuse can be shared, I am happy to make myself available.
For Catholics, Cardinal Pell has not just been one of us, but also one of our leaders. We have heard of Cardinal Pell being accused of knowing about abuse by priests and not acting to prevent it, but today’s news has taken things to another level. Another one of our church leaders has been found guilty of sexual abuse against minors. Once again this gives rise to feelings of mistrust in the church we form part of. Can we still trust this institution which for so long has been so dear to us?
I have to admit I do not have an answer to these questions, I am struggling to make sense of things that are happening around us.
Allow me to humbly go back to a theme I have reflected upon a number of times. I still believe in a God of love as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, and I am very sure that my God is very angry at the abuse that has been carried out in his name. I am also aware that many of my sisters and brothers too hold on to their faith. This faith we all share is the bedrock of our community. As I struggle to make sense of what is happening around us, I still offer to be of service, as best as I can, to this community of faith.
I try to avoid to use the term ‘church’ and instead use more scriptural terms as ‘Body of Christ,’ ‘People of God,’ or ‘community of faith.’ I find it helpful to distinguish between our faith community and the institution that has been shown to be guilty of abuse.
I offer this reflection to you in the hope that it may help you make sense of events.
Fr Jude Pirotta mssp