THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to my newsletter.

I’ve spent much of this week reading Cardinal Pell’s testimony at the Royal Commission. I wasn’t going to write about it, but it’s taken over my thoughts, and I want to show support for the survivors, who’ve shown courage and resilience and dignity throughout.

I’ve read some of the Cardinal’s statements with incredulity and anger, and now that his time in the witness stand has drawn to a close, I feel a sense of loss.

This was an opportunity gone begging—a chance for the truth and for a genuine apology. It was an almost purpose-built moment for Pell to say he’d failed in his duty to protect the children. To admit his responsibility, at least in part, for the suffering they’ve endured. To say he’d work openly with them towards ensuring it could never happen again. To say that every child has the right to safety, and these children had deserved his protection.

But he didn’t. Instead, once again, his detachment was unshakeable, and he protected his Church and his career. Apart from an occasional slip-up, he gave the rehearsed and defensive answers he’d been briefed to give.

He might as well have been a cardboard cutout. I got no sense that he understood the impact of sexual abuse on a child, or that he appreciated the consequences of his blind eye. The blood of these children slid off his Teflon-coated hands.

Pell could have helped, he could have led the way towards healing, but he’s chosen not to. I feel for the survivors and their dashed hopes. Once again, they’re left to get on with their lives, still waiting, still hoping, for the truth.

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THE SISTERS' SONG

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