'Immensely challenging': The sentencing of Cardinal George Pell

‘For many survivors it will be immensely challenging’: The sentencing of Cardinal George Pell

On Wednesday the 13th of March in Melbourne County Court’s at 10am Chief Judge Peter Kidd will sentence Cardinal George Pell for sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. It follows Pell being found guilty by a jury in December last year.

“For many survivors of abuse, the sentencing of Cardinal Pell, as with other reported cases, represents their own personal struggle for justice. The struggle to be believed and to hold their perpetrator and those responsible for not acting to protect them or respond to account,” the President of the Blue Knot Foundation Dr Cathy Kezelman AM says.

“Given the speculation and outpouring of anger and distress over the conviction, the reaction to sentencing will be likely highly emotionally charged and extremely polarising. For some, no sentence will be long enough. Others, still reeling from the guilty verdicts will be outraged if a custodial sentence is handed down at all.”

The Blue Knot Foundation is Australia’s National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma, empowering recovery and building resilience for the five million adult Australians with a lived experience of childhood trauma (including abuse), their families and communities.

The organisation played a pivotal role supporting the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and in advocating for fair and equitable redress.

Dr Kezelman says the fact George Pell’s trial took place behind closed doors upset some survivors.

“Many survivors harmed within the Church and some additional survivors who believe they were harmed by or under the responsibility of Cardinal Pell felt they were denied their rights to witness this justice process, as a result of the requisite suppression order,” she says.  “For many survivors, not just of clergy abuse, it will be an immensely challenging and traumatic time. It is vital for survivors over this period to do what helps them feel as safe and as grounded as possible and to seek support to get them through the 24-hour media cycle and endless commentary which can be highly triggering.”

“For too long, hermetically sealed systems of power, such as within the Catholic Church have called the shots, protecting the Church, its hierarchy and themselves. They have taken little to no responsibility and ducked accountability. Hopefully, this sentencing can herald fundamental change in the Church and other institutions, starting with accountable, responsibility and transparent leadership, hierarchy and culture. It needs to be a time for zero tolerance to abuse, and survivor respect, support and justice.”

The Blue Knot Foundation’s symbol is a tangled blue knot, symbolising the complexity of childhood trauma. The Blue Knot Foundation works to help untangle this knot.

Need Support? Call the Blue Knot helpline on 1300 657 380 between 9 am and 5 pm Monday to Sunday AEST. You can also email helpline@blueknot.org.au

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