Even with the incomprehensibly horrible subject matter under investigation in the Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse, the testimony given by Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, was categorically shocking.
Shocking because of Pell’s admission that the Catholic church has been complicit in covering up child sex abuse. He said, “I am happy to accept the invitation of the Premier [Denis Napthine] and to say that I’m fully apologetic and absolutely sorry, and that is the basis for everything on which I’ll say now.”
It was shocking because of the reasoning Pell gave to explain why sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy had been systemically covered up by the Church: “… The primary motivation would have been to respect the reputation of the church,” he said.
Shocking, was his reference to “the gospels” in explaining the support he had shown former priest and convicted serial child abuser, Gerald Ridsdale. Pell’s testimony on this matter was: “I felt there was something in the gospels where Christ speaks about being with the lowest of the low. As an expression of solidarity, I gave that limited support.”
Shocking was the reminder of the prolonged trauma that child sexual abuse victims suffer, which a paper published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies
in 2010 identified as including, but not limited to, physical and mental health problems,
suicidal behaviour, eating disorders and obesity, alcohol and substance
abuse and aggressive, violent and criminal behaviour. Cardinal Pell said, “There’s no doubt about it that lives have been blighted… There’s no doubt about it that these crimes have contributed to too
many suicides.”
Shocking, was the colourless detachment with which Pell discussed these matters. The real passion was shown by the people who were following the proceedings, and the anger voiced in comment forums and across social media was palpable. Here are a few excerpts from the reams of abuse inquiry commentary on Twitter yesterday…


And now in limerick form:


Via ABC News