Cardinal Pell is today again in the news for attempting to avoid a prison sentence for the worst possible reason: child abuse. The public is gasping in disbelief, not so much because of what has been done to a single child several decades ago, but that a jury had the balls, in December of 2018, to convict him – unanimously, after having been hauled before a court earlier in the year had ended in a mistrial.
It doesn’t surprise anybody that the cardinal is appealing to the High Court. After all, he has consistently denied not only this but all charges at all times, since the first accusations were levelled against him in June 2017.
Cardinal George Pell, the most senior cleric in the world to face such charges, has now been convicted of historical child abuse, this time on the testimony by one man of incidents which happened in his childhood as an altar boy.
The gag on the media, in place after the first trial, was lifted. Details of the accusations had been kept from the public for reasons of avoiding prejudice, but it is just possible that the judge did not like the decision of the jury at that time. Even so, Pell’s legal team would not be too worried, even now, seeing how similar handling of cases have ended up being eventually dismissed when they reached the High Court. This time, however, the court’s openness and fairness will be on trial in the mind of the watching public of the world! The High Court might not be too easily persuaded by counsel to let this particular person off the hook.
What would Jesus say to Cardinal Pell?
As a priest and even more as a cardinal, George Pell is the representative of Jesus on earth. What would Jesus say to him, as George sits in his prison accommodation, his bail having been revoked?
I imagine that Jesus would naturally sit down and have a frank eye-to-eye with him, if Pell was able to look him in the eyes, that is. Jesus would probably not accuse him, nor act as arbitrator in his case, but instead begin by asking him a question. Let us sit in on what transpires.
My brother George, Jesus says, If the law sets you free, would you be free? Or does only the truth set you free?
Cardinal Pell’s jaws drop in amazement at being called my brother by Jesus. That is the most intimate thing anyone had ever said to him which remotely touched his heart and made him believe that he might somehow be lovable. George’s mind does a skip: Jesus wasn’t judging him? He’s just asking some pertinent questions without even forcing him to answer them! This is not the Jesus Pell knows, the one who ‘sits at the right hand of God’ and does goodness knows what from that lofty place. Ah! Thinks Pell, He is the Saviour, of course. He’s come to save me!
But watch as Jesus smiles, guessing 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.
Jesus goes on, hoping that he’s not overwhelming Pell’s mental ability here. Everyone is responsible for their own actions, Jesus continues, and every action has its own consequences. You might possibly escape the justice of the law, but you know how much I despise laws that help people to lie, don’t you? Pell’s back straightens into a rod at these words.
Jesus waits for a response, but our prelate has none so far, so Jesus continues in the same vein. There is a higher law, my brother, that you will be answerable to. You know about that law because it is written in your own heart, and not on any tablets of stone, and not in any Catechism or Canon. The penalty for breaking the law of your heart is not separation from me or from God but separation from your own goodness, because you, and only you, have banished it. Being on a roll now, Jesus adds a bit of psychology to the deep spiritual-truth message, and says, Not having the joy of your natural goodness in your heart, George, you will feel bereft.
Now Jesus definitely pauses, because, well, it’s rather a lot to take in at once. Then he continues with a message that no doubt is the very last thing our Cardinal expects to hear:
There comes a time, dear brother, that every action comes home to you in brilliant clarity, and then it’s time for you to weep for any harm done to children’s souls, and to your own.
George, don’t be afraid of that time, because the truth is meant to set you free. Forget what you know about sin and hell, though – hell doesn’t exist except for the one you’ve created for yourself.
All kinds of emotions had torn George this way and that as Jesus spoke, and then, just as he thinks of denying that what Jesus had said about him was actually true, Jesus heads him off.
I have good news for you and bad news, brother George. The good news is that contrary to your beliefs, you were never judged by God! What that means, George, is that you don’t even need to be forgiven! But you don’t get to get off scot-free, in case you think I’m offering you a spiritual loop-hole here.
“No,” says George to himself, “That can’t be remotely true! Get me out of here!” Jesus puts him back in his seat (figuratively speaking) when he says,
I’m here at this crucial time of your life because it is giving you a rare opportunity to clear the slate to some extent and make a new start.
Pell looks up now, and he is all ears.
Jesus is not about to soothe him, though, and now says the hardest thing that George needs to hear:
George, you do need to choose truth, and you need to choose love. What that means, George, is allowing yourself to feel the pain you have inflicted, first of all. When you do that, you will begin to feel the pain in your own heart, George. You will feel that abandonment, that horrible rejection you suffered yourself, which started you off on a road of deadly pretence, enabling you to become successful at getting some kind of pseudo-respect from people in the Church…and then you abused the power vested in you…for it was never enough, was it?
George doesn’t know where to look now. He is crestfallen, eyes down, hunched over, staring at his hands. This is not what he expected! Why is there no respect for his importance as a Cardinal? What is his long-forgotten childhood to him? His ego rears up, but he knows it’s useless: Jesus has spoken the truth, and what’s more, Jesus has spoken in his usual kind way.
Jesus understands me! He finally concludes, and dares to meet the eyes of the one who is only just his older brother, wanting him to take a step forward in love instead of more steps backwards in deception.
“What will happen to me then?” he whispers, because he needs to see some kind of end-game.
You will feel differently and be in touch with your own wisdom when you choose love, says Jesus, and you will know what you want to do to make the best kind of recompense possible for those you have hurt. You will love and respect yourself as the Divine Child of God that you are, and you will grant that same love and respect to everyone, because we are all the same family – just different members of the same Divine Self.
Some big words there from Jesus, but George gets the drift.
Time will tell if George meets his challenge or not; whether he will publicly tell the truth or not, whether he will allow himself to be unconditionally loved or not by Jesus who extends that love to him now and always has.