The pump has exploded in several phases. And the last denotation is the most serious and seriously re-engages the Vatican. Cardinal George Pell, direct counselor of Pope Francis, superminister of Finance (this morning he still appeared in the organizational chart of the Holy See website) and considered the Number Three of the Roman institution, he has been convicted by a Melbourne court for sexually abusing two children in the 1990s. On December 11 it was already known that he would be condemned, but the details were not made public until Tuesday for legal reasons (there was another process under way that will not be finally held). Then it was leaked that Pell had already been convicted on five counts of serious sexual misconduct. Now it is known that the victims were two 13-year-old choir boys and that one of them was raped by the Australian cardinal, the highest member of the Vatican leadership ever condemned.
Pell's sentence and the horrific details of the case come just as the summit of abuses in the Vatican ends that has brought together 190 religious leaders to tackle the problem. Strength and effectiveness were called for in this fight. But the case of the Australian, maintained until the last day in office – he has continued to comment on his economic area – and only apart from the council of cardinals who advised the Pope last December and "for reasons of age", evidence a very different way to address the issue. Especially compared to the radicalism used with other cardinals, like the American Theodore McCarrick, expelled from the priesthood just a week ago. Pell was so far on probation, but could be arrested from Wednesday, when the hearings will begin to determine a penalty that could reach 10 years in prison.
The Vatican always worked with the hypothesis that Pell was accused of playing in a pool. The Pope applied the presumption of innocence, and even when he was required as an imputed pope, an Australian court granted him a kind of leave to defend himself. Pell repeatedly denied the facts and the Pope, although the cardinal dragged a very long list of accusations for the victims in Australia, he trusted his version. Now, however, we know the real extent of the five charges are for acts committed in Melbourne between 1996 and 1997. One of them is for the penetration of a minor, which happened after the archbishop of Melbourne officiated a mass. The other four are for committing indecent acts against the two minors. During the trial, the agency EFE notes, the court heard how in 1996, the then archbishop of Melbourne met the two boys in rooms of the cathedral after a mass. After telling them that they had gotten into a mess by drinking mass wine, Pell abused them. Then, he repeated the abuse to one of them a year later.
One of the two victims, according to the communiqué issued and published by the local media, requested that their identity be kept secret. This testimony by assuring that he is not a spokesperson for pedophilia victims, just "an ordinary working type who maintains and protects his family as best he can". "I need space and time to support the ongoing judicial process," said the victim, who stressed that like other survivors of sexual abuse, he passed "shame, loneliness, depression and a struggle (internal)" and that took "years" in understanding the impact "in your life. The other victim died of an overdose in 2014.
When Pell was appointed Vatican finance superintendent, he had already been accused numerous times by the victims. The cardinal served as a priest in Ballarat, his hometown, between 1979 and 1984. A period in which there were dozens of cases of abuse by another priest (Gerald Ridsale), who was sentenced to eight years in prison. Pell always denied knowing that. But he also claimed to ignore most of the 4,444 cases reported between 1980 and 2015, many of which occurred when he was archbishop of Melbourne between 1996 and 2001, and Sidney until 2014. However, as reported by Emiliano Fittipaldi, journalist of L'Espresso and author of the book Lust, which deals with this case, in Australia ended up paying eight million euros to victims in exchange for not removing those issues again.