April 6th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The NSW election and our incredible shrinking farming sector

SOCIETY The pervasive and pernicious online porn epidemic

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coffers are full but Treasurer will take spending cautiously

OPINION Judge treats Cardinal Pell to a spot of 'open justice'

NATIONAL AFFAIRS NSW Liberals re-election gives a boost to Morrison

ECONOMICS The Great Dragon uncoils all around the globe

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Donald Trump: an unlikely promise keeper Part 2

REFLECTION On the conviction of Cardinal Pell

FICTION Orange Years: The Japie Greyling Story

TERRORISM Lessons from Christchurch

ASIAN AFFAIRS Xi's imperious play prompts U.S. to repair Asian friendships

YPAT Getting with the program: one young person's story

MUSIC To market, to market, to sell a good song

CINEMA The LEGO Movie 2: Building a world

BOOK REVIEW A template for living alongside the world

BOOK REVIEW Catholic Maryland and early tolerance



THE BUDGET Take your tax cuts and be merry, for tomorrow ... is another day

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On the conviction of Cardinal Pell

by Anne Lastman

News Weekly, April 6, 2019

And so the sentence is six years in prison with a minimum of three years and eight months to be served before parole. With these words, the fate of His Eminence Cardinal George Pell has been publicly announced.

A jury had previously found him guilty. Now a judge, who consoled himself that the jury had made the decision to find His Eminence guilty, determined the punishment.

Following the sentencing and his being removed from the courtroom to be held in custody till June 5, 2019, for his appeal to be dealt with, he was taken from our sight. As he left with great dignity he turned and, again – as he had done many times before – bowed to the Judge who had just sentenced him to jail.

A friend and colleague told me that His Eminence had said to him in a calm untroubled voice that he is “offering up” this imprisonment and public humiliation in reparation and for the healing of all victims of clerical sexual abuse.

“Offering up” is the mandate of priesthood and, while the priest in his ministry is called to visit the sick, console those who weep, feed the poor, and administer the sacraments – all important works – his most important role is to “offer up”, through sacramental identification with Jesus the High Priest, sinful humanity, yet redeemed, and bring it into whole communion with the life of God.

The priest stands configured to Christ offering sufferings, humiliation, shame, the sins of others, covered in the blood of Christ as atonement for sin and pain (for victims and abusers).

A priest is called to holiness. This call imprints on the soul the indelible seal and signature of Christ: “You did not choose me, I chose you” (John 15:16). The same imprint that was imprinted on Jesus by his Father, as Son, He will also imprint on those whom he calls to share in his ministry as the shepherd who cares for the sheep.

The priest makes Christ present in our world, and unites in the offering up of sufferings that are shared and offered together with the Chief Shepherd.

While we have the charisms called Monsignor, Bishop, Archbishop, Cardinal and even Pope, these are charisms of governance, with each working according to that state for the cohesion of the whole Church.

These charisms are objectively different from each other and even, it might be said, secular, because they are function and performance related. However, under­pinning the charisms of governance of the Church is the most important charism of all, priesthood.

Priesthood is to be configured to holi­ness because the work of priesthood is heaven related.

First and foremost, those called to the vocation of the priesthood are called to “embody” Jesus. To do and act as Jesus would. To offer sacrifice just as Jesus did. To offer himself just as Jesus did. Beyond any function or service, the priest is configured to Christ when he “offers up” sufferings.

Perhaps one of the greatest sufferings experienced in present society is the wounding of priesthood by sinful shepherds themselves. The shepherd abusing his lambs, members of his flock, instead of tending to them lovingly. Because of this there has been a loss of love and honour and respect for all shepherds, and the road along the journey has become full of dangers, especially for the priest and the priesthood.

In the offering of his suffering, shame, humiliation and imprisonment for the sins of wicked shepherds, and also for the healing of the wounded and abused victims, Cardinal George Pell has not exercised his charism of Cardinal Prefect for the Vatican Economy (governance) but has exercised his charism of priesthood. The charism of suffering in union with Christ, who loves even the least among the flock.

Cardinal Pell has demonstrated visibly, in the condemnation that has befallen him, and verbally, in his offering up of his sufferings for the healing of others and atonement for the sins of others, the mystery of his priestly vocation.

He has shown to us in the past that he is a man of prayer and a firm and strong believer in intercessory prayer, both in his service at the altar of sacrifice and the sacraments, and in the mystery of atonement that he celebrates as priest. Now he shows us further the mystery of mediator between the wounded and forgiveness.

Further, on this journey to his Calvary, His Eminence knows that, even if he is later cleared of all accusations, the imprints of the lashings and marks of this sacrifice will remain, as do the marks of Jesus’ Passion remain on his body.

Anne Lastman attended all of Cardinal Pell’s first trial, and most of his second trial. She returned to Melbourne from Perth for the sentencing.

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm