Tuesday, February 26, 2019
“Only a madman …” George Pell outed as gay man
A perspective seemingly missing from the big media splash around George Pell today is that, having been convicted of molesting two teenage boys, he is presumptively a gay man.
A homophobic and self-loathing gay man, I stress. The former adjective has long and abundantly been on the public record. Re the latter adjective, now is surely the time for some sweeping, top-down changes to address the toxic consequences of the presence of so many self-loathing gay men serving in the Catholic Church: such clergy are inclined to rape boys in the closet, figuratively, if not also literally. A secondary but still notable point is that clergy who have sex with adult men – so breaking their vows of celibacy, but not the law (in most countries) – can be, and have been, blackmailed by clergy paedophiles, so protecting the paedophile (and blackmailer) from criminal prosecution.
These very points were made only a few days ago, in media coverage of a new book by Frederic Martel, In the closet of the Vatican.
It seems, however, that the Catholic Church is going to fight, kick and scream against the only – and admittedly bracing – remedy to its homophobia within: an end to clerical celibacy, especially per same-sex relationships (I note that one of the primary drivers for instituting clerical celibacy about 1,500 years ago was to prevent the children of clergy inheriting wealth that would otherwise flow to the Catholic Church; the issue of such children arises usually, of course, from heterosexual relationships).
The Catholic Church’s recalcitrance here was very recently shown by its defrocking/laicisation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, mainly (I understand), for relationships with young adult men; seminarians, specifically. I am not going to defend McCarrick's molesting of junior staff in his workplace, but any system that ranks such a crime as equal to, if not worse than molesting children is sick – sick to its core. Yet that is seemingly the Vatican’s take-home message about McCarrick (who, I note, has also been accused of molesting children).
The bottom-line is that McCarrick had, for the most part, a somewhat healthier (but of course still illegal) conception of, and outlet for, his sexuality than George Pell – think a gay Harvey Weinstein-type sleazebag, a mogul in swishing robes.
Uniting George Pell with McCarrick, however, is their adhesion to the Catholic Church code of silence around its homophobia within and the rape of boys. Unless and until it comes out of the closet itself, the Church will always continue to shelter clergy paedophiles.
Update 2 March 2019 – some thoughts on George Pell’s pending appeal
Since everyone and anyone in George Pell’s cheer-squad have already weighed-in to the rock-solidness of his acquittal in the wake of his pending appeal (to be heard in mid-2019, I’m guessing), let me make a case for the respondents here.
Commentary that has pointed out the unusualness of Pell’s conviction – based on the uncorroborated testimony of one man – is not without foundation. However, this is not an ordinary case of one man’s word against another.
Pell chose not to give evidence in court in his own defence, which of course was his right, and no adverse inference should be drawn from this.
But Pell also chose (he was not compelled) to give an almost one-hour videotaped interview to Victorian police at a Rome airport hotel, which was apparently played in full to the jury during his trial in late 2018, and excerpts from which were broadcast a day or so after news of his convection became public.
This videotape was presumably adduced by Pell’s defence. If so, this was a serious tactical error, although in fairness to Robert Richter QC et al (whose bills to Pell and his backers would amount to many millions of dollars), there wasn’t much else to work with.
Here, Richter’s line that “Only a madman [would risk his entire career for a quick sexual thrill]” is laughably easy to disprove. This is all the more true for high-flying males such as Pell. While, as recently has been pointed out, the rules of engagement for public disclosure of trysts between adults changed noticeably between JFK’s time in the early 1960s (when everyone kept schtum) and the 1988 US presidential campaign, Pell was on notice of this sea-change. The career danger didn’t stop Bill Clinton from thinking with his d*ck when it came to his dealings with Monica Lewinsky in 1995-1996, so in this sense Pell, who doubled-down on the danger-factor by doing it with children, was actually, in 1996, a rather typical high-flying man of his time, rather than a “madman”.
Going back to the videotaped interview, from the public excerpts I’ve seen, I would guess that this weighed heavily for the jury as a factor for convicting Pell. God knows what is in its other 50 minutes or so, but in these excerpts, Pell is so shrill – so woodenly shrill – that his repeated denials ooze inauthenticity. He seemingly soon runs out of adjectives that are synonyms of “madness” (in its particular nuance here), and – aware that simply repeating the m-word will get him nowhere – thus can only flounder in loose cliché.
Pell’s body-language in the excerpts also confirms the impression of a man who has only just that moment found out that his big-guns, hitherto always infallible, have just run out of ammunition mid-discharge. I do hope that the full videotape becomes public, so that it can be pored over, Zapruder-style, for its gleamings on Pell’s state of mind at the time, in all its glorious, flaccid micro-aggression.
In summary, as far as the jury probably was concerned, this wasn’t a case of one man’s word against another – courtesy of the videotaped interview, Pell’s every adjective was ample corroboration for proving the prosecution’s case beyond reasonable doubt.
In all this, today’s unsurprising news is that Pell has now dumped Robert Richter for his appeal, in favour of Bret Walker SC. No doubt Pell is hoping either that a stiff new broom for the appeal will adumbrate some fresh synonyms for “madness”, or (more likely) that his new main-man will exploit a small technical loophole that will squeeze Pell through the eye of a needle and into a sort of freedom. If he is freed, I trust that the evidence Pell has given several times under oath in recent years, as to his complete lack of participation in widespread cover-ups of the activities of other paedophile clergy, is comprehensively reviewed – with an eye to charging Pell with perjury (if nothing else). I have closely studied the relevant testimonies here, and it suffices to say for now that Pell’s form in the Rome videotaped interview, while a career-best, was not a career-first.