I try to read ‘Il Foglio’ regularly as this is one of the most prestigious newspapers in Italy. It was founded in 1996 by Giuliano Ferrara, a clever journalist of great manners and excellent talent of writing, a man of rich past – a son of a communist politician who belonged to a communist party in his youth, later a socialist party and then he joined a liberal party of Silvia Berlusconi (he was a minister in his government and an MP for the European Parliament). I appreciate him for his intellectual honesty which allows him to analyze our reality without any prejudice. And this is just his intellectual honesty which made him become a definite opponent to abortion, an admirer of teaching by Benedict XVI, defending traditional Christian values as an essential element of social coherence in liberal and democratic western civilization. Although in 2015 Ferrara passed over management of ‘Il Foglio’ to Claudio Cerasie, he still writes to the newspaper which he founded.

All this made me get interested in reading the issue of ‘Il Foglio’ of 28 February 2019, in which Ferrara and his colleagues commented and analyzed the verdict of the Australian court in the trial of cardinal George Pell. The very title of the cycle of articles explain how the whole scandal around the previous archbishop of Melbourne, and one of the closest cooperators of Francis as a chief of the Secretariat for Economy of the Holy See is perceived: ‘The case of Pell like ‘the scandal of Dreyus’ with the subtitle: ‘Non-existing witnesses, improbable reconstruction of facts, divided judges. The chronicle of incredible trial’. Today not everyone remembers the ‘scandal of Dreyfus’, which passed into history as a symbol of a falsified trial and unfair verdict. It concerned the trial and sentencing the French captain of the Jewish origin – Alfred Dreyfus for an alleged betrayal for the sake of Germany. Dreyfus was arrested in 1894 and the crown evidence in his trial were an alleged letter of the captain of the German embassy and testimonies put forward under the oath by a witness. A verdict of the military court given to Dreyfus was a lifelong penal camp. When after a few years it was uncovered who was a real author of the spying letter and the fact of perjury, Dreyfus was released but not earlier than in 1906 he got fully recovered after that.

Absurd accusations of an anonymous ‘victim’

The scandal of Pell is analyzed in ‘Il Foglio’ in a few articles. The accusations put forward against the cardinal and questions which appear in relation to him, were presented in a translation of an article published in the Australian journal ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. Andrew Bolt, an Australian columnist in the ‘Herald Sun’ – one of the most popular newspapers in Australia, presents his opinion on the attacks on the cardinal in an interview with Matteo Matuzzi. Whereas Giuliano ferrara explains why the trial of cardinal Pell should be considered as the contemporary scandalous ‘case of Dreyfus’.

Bolt declares openly that he does not believe in the accusations put forward against the cardinal: ‘They want us to believe that Pell caught two boys from the choir in a sacristy of the cathedral of St. Patrick in the mid of the 90s (exactly in December 1996), when they were drinking the wine of the Holy Mass celebrated by Pell. They want us to believe that Pell forced a boy to have an oral sex, holding the other one, and then used both of them sexually. The boys allegedly escaped from a procession after the Holy Mass in order to break into the sacristy but none of the other members of the choir who were testifying noticed them do it nor when they joined the choir later’. The problem is that Fr. Charles Portelli, a ceremony man and sacristy carer Max Potter said that after the Holy Mass Pell ‘was never alone’. What is more, cardinal Pell used to stop on the stairs of the cathedral to talk with believers for 10-20 minutes. After his first Holy Mass, as a new archbishop of Melbourne Pell met with a mother of one of altar boys. Beside that at that time the private sacristy of the archbishop was being renovated, so everyone was using the general one which was always opened. Despite those all circumstances the accuser of the cardinal – a procurator Mark Gibson thinks that Pell could have about 5 minutes for sexual abuse of two boys. This is an absurd thesis when considering the facts quoted above.

Besides that, according to Bolt, ‘an intelligent and careful man who is Pell, would never risk his successful career and good name, doing such a crazy act in the public place’. If he had done it, he would have been sentenced to imprisonment, not in a psychiatric hospital!

It must be added that the surname of the accuser of Pell is not given to the public opinion; another of the boys who were allegedly abused, never put forward any accusation, and before his death – he died from drug overdose – said to his mother that nothing of which the cardinal is accused, had ever happened.

Cardinal Pell – a scapegoat

So, it is obvious that honest judges stated in the beginning that on the basis of those ‘facts’ Pell cannot be sentenced. That statement was not approved of by media or the public opinion, which made a pressure in September 2018 to dissolve the commission of judges and set up a new one at once which gave a ‘correct’ verdict in December of the same year, sentencing the cardinal. This issue is very clear for Andrew Bolt who is neither a Catholic or a Christian: ‘Cardinal George Pell was sentenced unjustly for sexual abuse of two teenagers’. He thinks that the cardinal became a scapegoat. He wrote: ‘Catholic Church has had a very negative image in most Australian media, including our state media, ABC. Pell was attacked over twenty years ago, and since then he has been the most significant and conservative voice of Church in Australia. He had been attacked for the first time as the archbishop of Melbourne for his conservative leadership where he was known from reforms introduced in Catholic schools in the state of Victoria. He was also attacked for warning against exaggerated thesis of people who believe in the global warming’.

The Australian journalist reminds that in courts the jury can sentence somebody if ‘there are any justified doubts’. I think it incredible – he added – that people cannot doubt in the verdict after getting to know facts. But hatred to Pell is so high that they find it difficult to admit it’. Analysis of the scandal of cardinal Pell ends with a bitter statement by Bolt: ‘We do not want to admit that Church is attacked not only for sexual abuse but also simply as Church. It seems to many people as something which restricts their behavior so they want it to stop existing. It is ‘overwhelming’ and it must be destroyed for this reason’.

Bolt reminded that it has not been the first attack on the cardinal as there were earlier attempts to disgrace him. Once a man accused Pell for being abused in his home town Balarat, in the cinema, during a film projection. The accuser gave a date of abuse but it turned out that the film during which he was allegedly being abused, had been on six months earlier. Another man behaved in the same way, when making up a story about being abused by Pell in a swimming pool. ‘But this time, when accusations are much more improbable, cardinal Pell was sentenced’ – the Australian journalist said bitterly.

Anti-catholic campaign under the pretext of a fight against abuse from priests

In his article Ferrara notes that the trial of Pell, similarly as other trials of priests, is taking place ‘ in infamous persecution atmosphere, stigmatized with aggressive tendency of a large part of the world public opinion and media to put blame at any cost’, in assistance of ‘the crowd shouting at the accused: ‘get rotten in hell’, and ‘media all over the world, in every latitude, with very rare exceptions, create a choir in the anti-Christian crusade. The journalist proves that in the world there are not only ‘conformist or fearful journalists, but also aggressive moralizers of the so-called progressing Catholic groups who are looking at the prince of Church engrossed in the scandal and shame, with their sadistic self-satisfaction’ and he adds that ‘there is always insinuation implied in their grotesque and fictional judgment that the whole ‘’rot’’ allegedly comes from John Paul II and Ratzinger’.

Ferrara emphasizes proudly that his journal never joined this choir in the anti-Christian crusade: ‘For twenty years, practically in solitude (which should be a suspicious circumstance for everybody, who has a vision of liberal law and its relation with media and the public opinion), we here, in ‘Il Foglio’ say that there is a cruel anti-Catholic campaign under the cover of a fight against clerics’ ‘’wolf’’, a priest – oppressor and a bishop, who protects him’. Taking on the attitude of impartiality, the newspaper did not have to ‘deny the abuse which took place but which appeared at the same time as ethic dumbness of the pansexual world towards integrality of children, also and first of all, outside the church’. Ferrara writes: one can only ‘understand mechanisms of this blackmail contradictory with law, ideological, anti-Christian and anti-Catholic one, used by big media, court organizations, commissions, committees of activists speaking on behalf of victims and those who are demanding high damages’. The purpose of these new ‘anti-Dreyfus activists’ is ‘to attack the two hundred-year-old institution which got older and is tragically unsure now about choosing between its tradition and earthly ‘aggiornamento’, with abolishing some of its fundaments, such as celibate, care about souls, independence of cult and its administrating by consecrated clergy, sacrament of personal confession, excluding women from ordination, sexual morality, authority in the sphere of culture and humankind, trustfulness of believers, hierarchy, beginning with the bishop of Rome, pope’.

The journalist thinks that in this new institution Catholic Church, ‘not knowing or not being able to react, got entrusted, as in its nature, spirit of subordination to the laws of God’s Providence through penance and prayer, and then the laws of this world’. In this context the last meeting of bishops in Vatican devoted to abuse of the under-aged is critically evaluated, thinking that it was ‘self-flagellation’ and ‘Church falling onto knees in front of an inquisition organ of press and media’.

It might seem – which Ferrara emphasizes – that all this which is happening with Church and in Church now, is the issue of believers and their faith in Divine Providence. But it is not so as for believers who ‘love even faint sense of justice, equal rights and no prejudice, objective knowledge about historic reality’, ‘machines against such a value which is Catholic Church, lasting for decades, should be a stimulus for getting interested in the issue and getting to know it better, counteracting speculations, separating the truth from the false’. The Italian journalist, a real liberal does not want to turn his head back to the other side or give applause to the universal uncritical condemning Church, which is done by the worst contemporary ‘anti-Dreyfus activists’ as it would be a black stain in the history of our times.

Pell and priests – yes! Dalajlama and Buddhist monks – no!

The Italian journal also revealed hypocrisy of dishonest moralizers who are accusing only Catholic Church, not seeing abuse done by others. Maurizio Crippa gives two symbolic examples of this kind of biased attitude to the issue of abuse towards the under-aged. The first one concerns the head of a Tibetan building. Last year nobody felt scandalized when the XIV Dalajlama admitted publicly that he knew about sexual abuse of the young boys by masters of faith in Buddhist monasteries. He said that he had been informed about those abuses 25 years earlier during a meeting in Dharamsala. But he kept silent or – as the journalist points in his article – ‘he might have used inner means like the previous Holy Office would have done it’. Last year in Rotterdam the XIV Dalajlama met with some victims and said: ‘People who commit sexual violence are not following teaching of Buddha, so now, when everything got public, they will have to face up embarrassment’. He received applause from everybody for his ‘moral righteousness’ – and at that point the show ended. ‘Nobody saw a scandal in it, there were no editorials in the world newspapers, full of outrage, and, first of all, nobody demanded a reform of Buddhism’.

Crippa gives another significant example – a story of Larry Nassar, a former doctor of the national team of gymnastics of the United States, who was sentenced to imprisonment for sexual abuse and children’s pornography. Among his victims there were young stars, even Olympus champions but the scandal of Nassar did not echo in media. The issue is much more scandalous when we realize that – according to the investigations of journal ‘Indianapolis Star’ – during the last 20 years at least 368 cases of sexual abuse of the under-aged by adults from sports staff have been registered. The journalist asks a rhetoric question: Why did nobody ask coaches of gymnastics to come to a meeting – a kind of a synod – to confess their scandalous behavior?

In the end Crippa quotes Thomas Stearns Eliot from ‘Choirs of ‘A Rock” ‘: Why would people be supposed to love Church? Why would they be supposed to love its laws? It tells them about Life and Death and everything, about what they want to forget. Church is mild, where they want to be strict, and is strict when they want to be understanding. Church speaks about evil and sin and about other unpleasant facts’. Therefore Church in today’s times is ‘unloved’ and fought against, also by false moralizers. And the journalist emphasizes: we in ‘Il Foglio’ oppose to this absurd hunting witches’. I would add – ‘witches’ in cassocks. In the ancient times the Christians were killed in Roman circuses, today priests are sentenced in media circuses to civil death by ‘judges’ of a new dictatorship which has overwhelmed the world – dictatorship of relativism and political correctness. It is good that in these dramatic times there are still honest journalists who see that new ‘scandals’ around Church and Vatican are a cruel and cynical campaign against Catholicism under the cover of a fight against abuse towards the under-aged, whose final purpose is an attempt of destroying Church.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 13/2019 (31 III 2019)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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