George Pell being found guilty of sexual offences against two choirboys has, as might be fully expected, created a massive media and public response. Most obviously and again very understandably, this response has been about justice having been served and the vindication of those who have suffered abuse at the hands of those in positions of power and authority. The seemingly flippant description of Pell’s crimes as “no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case” by his lawyer has added to the public indignation and repulsion. It was heartening however that Judge Peter Kidd quickly dismissed this appraisal and asserted that his crimes were in fact “a serious example of this kind of offending”. The description provided by Pell’s lawyer suggests that there is still much to be learned by some about child sexual abuse and the misuse of power.
Beyond the immediate responses to the news of George Pell’s conviction, it may be expected that the repercussions of this event are far from over – especially when considered in the light of the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and, even more recently, Queensland’s Human Rights Act. Some of these repercussions may be expected, but some may not be anticipated and may raise difficult questions to be confronted by both governments and non-government organisations, and this will not be confined to those affiliated with the Catholic Church or other faith-based institutions. Watch out for next week’s edition of eNews when PeakCare’s Lindsay Wegener will post some of his thoughts about the possible repercussions. In the meantime, share your thoughts with us by posting your comments below – anonymously if you prefer.