I am surprised at the Australian secular media response to the papal conclave and the lack of support the secular media shows for a fellow Australian Cardinal Pell as he takes part in this historic event.
Cardinal Pell's rough treatment by the media is not new. From the moment he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne, some news media made clear their dislike of his appointment. Whenever the opportunity arises it seems Pell is taken out of context or unflatteringly portrayed. This is a real shame. I also find it surprising because if an Australian was competing in a global event such as the Olympics would we not cheer them on?
Instead the media has taken a different approach during the papal conclave, drudging up old accusations of abuse which have been long since dismissed by an independent inquiry.
On the Wikipedia page for Cardinal Pell it is evident that a battle of censorship is taking place, a link to an article from the website Zenit which gives a detailed analysis to the accusations of sexual abuse against Cardinal Pell has been continually removed from Wikipedia. The reason given for its removal was that it was a "biased source", (read it is a Catholic source that gives a well documented, and reasoned response to accusations against Cardinal Pell.) You can read the article here.
I find this anti-Catholic censorship quite disturbing and bizarre, Zenit is a reputable religious site that is often referred to by journalists. I thought the idea of Wikipedia was to provide a variety of sources for the reader, so they can make up their own mind.
Cardinal Pell has done an enormous amount to reform procedures in the Sydney Archdiocese into the way the Archdiocese handles sexual abuse claims. Also only three months into his tenure as Melbourne archbishop, Pell introduced tough changes into Church policy regarding abuse allegations and clergy were to be dealt with much more seriously, and compensation for the victims was improved.
Cardinal Pell is a well respected author, theologian and leader in the global church. This fact hit home for me at Sydney World Youth Day 2008 when a young Canadian woman shook the Cardinal's hand and said "Very pleased to meet you Cardinal Pell, I have read many of your books and they left a great impression on me." I took for granted as a young Australian Catholic that we have a world renowned leader leading the Archdiocese of Sydney, whose works were globally read. This young woman's admiration left an impression on me on and emphasised what a gift Cardinal Pell has been to the Australian Church. There is a reason why Pope John Paul II spotted his talent and elected him a Cardinal.
Over the years Pell has shown great courage facing atheist Richard Dawkins on the live panel of ABC on Q and A. In my opinion Cardinal Pell wiped the floor with Dawkins and handled Tony Jones with quick wit and no nonsense. I couldn't help but smile when Tony Jones tried to get Pell in trouble with the Jewish community by taking him out of context regarding a comment about Jewish people, which Pell quickly re-explained whilst gently chastising Tony Jones in his deep authoritative voice with the words "Nice try Tony."
I also had the pleasure of attending a debate with Cardinal Pell and atheist Dan Barker at Macquarie University in which the Cardinal's intelligence, humour and passion shone through. You can listen to the debate here.
To his credit Cardinal Pell hosted a world class global event in World Youth Day 2008 hosting 200,000 international guests. The benefits of World Youth Day 2008 cannot be under estimated there are many youth groups and social justice groups in Australia started as a result of the festival that are continuing to inspire youth of Australia, giving them hope, faith and teaching them the love of Christ.
Cardinal George Pell is a typical Australian (if there is such a thing) he grew up in Ballarat and was a great footy player who could have easily had a professional footy career if he had not felt called to join the priesthood and serve his community.
You can tell that he would have been a handsome man in his youth, even now with a stoop he is well over 6 feet tall and shows strength of character and leadership abilities. He could have married but instead chose a life of service giving his life as a gift to the Church, the people of his diocese, the needy and the poor.
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