Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, may not be aware of it, but he is about to shape the country’s history.
On Monday, when he fronts the Victorian Parliamentary enquiry, he will send the nation down one of two very different paths. One will lead to a continuing cohesive, yet varied, society. The other will see a generation of conflict between the secular and the religious movements.
On Monday, George Pell can come clean. He can abolish all confidentiality agreements. He can give up the names of all of his abusive priests, together with the names of all of those involved in the cover-ups. He can renounce the seal of the confessional. He can show real remorse for his past transgressions of public trust. He can decline to continue with his arrogant disregard for the welfare of victims. He can sack his PR advisors and lawyers. He can place the Church’s wealth and power at the disposal of his victims.
On Monday, he can achieve both power and glory.
On Monday, he can continue with the lies of the past. He can treat the committee with disdain. He can follow the PR script of those members of his organisation who have preceded him at the enquiry. He can continue to lead an organisation that protects criminals. He can continue to hold power without glory.
On Monday, he can be assigned to the scrap heap of history.
The choice is his.
The eyes of the nation will be upon him. As spokesman for the new regime in Rome, the eyes of the world will be on him. People will decide if a change in Pope has really meant change in policy to do with clergy abuses.
On Monday the spotlight shines. There will be no shadows in which to hide. What he says, and how he says it, will forever cement attitudes towards his organisation, both in Australia and elsewhere. This is the last chance for redemption.
TOMORROW: The real heroes
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)