Like the opulently robed 18th Century Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, who reportedly dismissed her starving peasants’ need for bread with the stunningly insensitive quip, “let them eat cake”, the opulently robed Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, yesterday dismissed child rape victims’ need for legal representation with the cold hearted evasion, “they can use Legal Aid”.
George, like the original Marie, completely missed the point of the injustice being highlighted.
The comparison between the flock of sinfully expensive top tier legal hot shots who shield the wealthy Cardinal and his paedophile priests from justice, and the almost insurmountable barriers preventing access to legal representation for the innocent children impoverished as a direct result of the crimes committed by those expensively protected paedophiles is stark enough by itself.
But this further demonstration of George Pell’s smug inhumanity to victims was uttered as he left the Red Mass – an annual event in many cities where the catholic hierarchy commands and receives a public expression of submission to its will and interests from the cream of the legal profession.
Shockingly, supposedly impartial judges are foremost among those eager to demonstrate their willingness to put allegiance to and protection of the pope, his Vatican officials and his local agents above the secular law of the state and country they are supposed to serve.
Pell ran into victims’ advocates as he scurried from St Mary’s Cathedral, where the mass was held, to the morning tea where those who sat through the arrogantly colourful display could ensure their attendance was duly noted by hard faced catholic officials. Once this important box is ticked, attendees’ can feel satisfied their possibility of acquiring lucrative postings or prestigious invitations, or of getting their children or grandchildren into the most exclusive schools will be significantly improved.
Pell’s Marie Antoinette moment came in response to a question from a victims’ advocate, asking how victims could access even a fraction of the legal might Pell had summoned to his side yesterday morning.
The slighting reference to begging for Legal Aid being good enough for victims clearly indicates that a level legal playing field – a fair chance at justice for victims – is the last thing Pell wants.
Not satisfied with routinely denying victims assistance to heal so he can spend more on his own legal muscle to deny them justice as well, Pell then put his elegantly shod foot even further down his own throat.
“I’m on your side”, he trumpeted.
As Pell stutteringly tried to elaborate on this outrageous fiction, and failed, we gave the clumsy cardinal an opportunity to turn his fiction into reality. We offered Pell a meeting with victims to discuss ways he could actually help victims, rather than just claim to do so.
But like his regularly repeated claim to be doing everything possible to help victims, Pell’s claim to be on our “side” was all talk and no action.
He left muttering disgustedly, “I’ve already done that”, as if it was somehow our fault that he attends deliberately rare meetings with victims resolutely determined neither to listen to us nor to bend from his Vatican ordered position of denial, evasion and coverup.
There was no way George “Marie Antoinette” Pell was going to waste any of his precious time, now, or any time in the future, listening to victims or attempting to understand our needs and concerns.
A strikingly similar attitude to that attributed to the ill-fated and out of touch Queen of France, who, as we all know, lost her throne and her head as a result of the arrogance, corruption and abuse of power of her reign.
I sincerely hope today’s Marie, presiding over a monarchical system rife with those very same vices, does not share the historical Queen’s fate.
Especially since I am so looking forward to visiting dear Marie in jail when our justice system finally becomes transparent enough to be applied equally to all citizens.
When inviting senior judges and the state’s Attorney General to a fancy dress party and morning tea no longer results in church officials being able to hide their crimes behind a sacred smokescreen that magically elevates them above the law.
Stay safe everyone.