Cardinal Pell had been found guilty by a Melbourne jury of several sex offences on Dec 11th 2018. The Australian media had been ineffectually gagged in the face of the trial scheduled for February 2019, as the news immediately spread around the world. Pell’s legal team was no doubt still at ease, seeing that similar cases eventually ended up in the High Court, to be dismissed. However, with the revelations of the new convictions of February 27th 2019, plus the stunningly flippant attitude of his counsel, Robert Richter, people around the world became horrified and it might not be too easy after all, to devise a way to let the Cardinal off the hook. Cardinal Pell is in jail as he awaits the date of his appeal, set to take place on March 13th.
What would Jesus say to Cardinal Pell?
We all have our reactions to this news. Tim Minchin’s 2016 song Come Home reflects the hatred and disgust at Pell’s hypocrisy shared by many. But what would Jesus say to George Pell if he was to visit him for a frank eye-to-eye? If Pell was able to look him in the eyes, that is.
Jesus would not come to judge, as he judges no-one, ever, but no doubt he would ask him a pertinent question: My brother George, he would say, If the law sets you free, would you be free?
Pell would be taken aback at being called my brother by Jesus instead of having accusations being thrown at him. Was Jesus just here to just ask some questions? Without even forcing him to answer them? Cool. But of course, our Cardinal now calculates, Jesus is the Saviour! He’s come to save me because he died for my sins! That guff must be right after all.
Jesus smiles broadly as he guesses what goes through the old man’s head.
My brother George, Jesus takes up again, I did not die for your sins – your church lot made that up.
Oomph! A blow to the stomach for George.
Jesus goes on, hoping that he’s not been too overwhelmed. Everyone…is responsible…for their own actions…Jesus says very slowly. You might escape the justice of the law but you know how much I despise laws that help people to lie, don’t you? There is a higher law, my brother, that you will be answerable to. That law, by the way, is written in your own heart, and not on any tablets of stone, nor in any Catechism or Canon, as far as I know. You need to know what the penalty is for breaking the law of your heart, my friend.
George looks up. What sort of talk is this, about his heart? Is Jesus not aware of the prison walls around here, for Pete’s sake?
Jesus is undeterred by the apparent indifference our George shows him, and says very deliberately:
My brother, the penalty for breaking the law of your heart is separation from your own goodness, because you, and only you, have banished it. And not having the joy of your natural goodness in your heart, George, you will feel bereft.
Jesus pauses here, because it was rather a lot to take in at once, and he is treading a spiritual place where George himself has not been for many years. Then he continues with what are no doubt the most unlikely words our Cardinal ever expected to hear:
I know, dear brother; that you felt bereft when you molested children, thinking that this would fill a deep hole in your heart, but it only made it bigger, didn’t it? This pain made you a good liar as well because you thought that was the way you had to protect yourself.
There comes a time, dear brother, when all that comes home to you in brilliant clarity, and then it’s time for you to weep for the harm you have done to the children’s souls, and to your own.
Don’t be afraid of that time, George, and let it come before you die, because truthfulness and humility are the real ways of filling your heart.
Emotions tear George this way and that, but as he gets ready to defend himself as per usual, Jesus heads him off.
I have good news and bad news for you, George. The good news is that contrary to your beliefs, you were never judged by God! But you don’t get off scot-free, in case you think I’m offering you a spiritual loop-hole here, even better than the Jesuit one you know about already.
“No,” bursts out George! “I’ve had enough; get me out of here!” Jesus puts him back in his seat and says,
I’m here at this crucial time of your life because it is giving you a rare opportunity to clear the slate a little bit and help you make a new start. Your public humiliation is a way for you to work off some of your heavy karma, George. Behave yourself well and become an example to other priests, bishops and cardinals who have offended, and work off a whole heap more…Or pile more on, George. It’s always your choice, but the consequences for yourself are not.
Now George doesn’t know where to look or how to look. He is crestfallen, eyes down, hunched over, staring at his hands. His ego rears up momentarily: Why is there no respect for his importance as Cardinal?
“What will happen to me?” he whispers then, because he needs to see some kind of end-game.
Oh! You’ll be in touch with your real feelings, says Jesus, which won’t be easy, for sure, and you will want to recompense those you have hurt. As you are able to respect the sanctity of the hearts of children, you will have a chance to begin to respect yourself as the Child of the Divine you never really believed you were, and grant that same respect to everyone, because we’re all members of the same Divine family of God, George…
Some deep phrases of truth there from Jesus, and George will take some time to begin to get the drift.
Time will tell if Cardinal Pell will remember this visit from Jesus; whether he will publicly tell the truth and claim his true redemption, or whether he will choose to reap the whirlwind some other time.
Carla van Raay, author God’s Callgirl and Desire. Perth WA 1st March 2019