Cardinal George Pell, giving evidence in Rome about the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of child sex allegations, this morning said he was not there to “defend the indefensible”.
He was addressing the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse via video link from a hotel in Rome. Australian abuse victims looked on as Cardinal Pell said there was precedent, in the 1980s, to mistrust accounts of abuse, and that there was a natural instinct to protect the church from shame. During his evidence, webcast live by the commission, he said “the church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has let people down”. Asked if that had occurred internationally, he replied “unfortunately, original sin is alive and well”.
Before the hearing, Australian journalists arriving to cover the hearing were reported to have been pushed, shoved and punched by Cardinal Pell’s security guards. Channel Nine reporter Amelia Ballinger said “our cameraman was pushed over, another journalist waiting to question Cardinal Pell was punched in the stomach, and Cardinal Pell went in without any of us being able to question him”. Cardinal Pell’s office denied his staff were responsible, saying security inside and outside the hotel was handled by Italian police.
In terms of PR, George Pell's entrance probably not the best start – back door, heavy security. Victim Anthony Foster: "we're used to it."
— Chris Reason (@ChrisReason7) February 28, 2016
Cardinal Pell’s office denied his staff were responsible, saying security inside and outside the hotel was handled by Italian police.
Up to 268,000 Australians regularly use methamphetamines
A recent study has confirmed that out of the 268,000 regular Australian methamphetamine users, more than half are dependent on the drug (including its more potent crystalline form known as ice). The research published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) found that the highest rates of use have been predominantly among 25- to 35-year olds, and suggests that the rate of dependency has increased over the past five years. “There is a need for both more health services and better engagement with and retention of clients in treatment services,” the study said. “There are no effective pharmacotherapy options for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence.”
Australian legends encourage gay athletes to come out
A number of Australian athletes, including Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, have spoken at the Mardi Gras Film Festival about their experiences of coming out. Diver and Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham said Australian athletes should not be concerned about the impact of their sexuality on potential sponsorship deals. “When more LGBTI athletes come out and they do start getting those big endorsements and they do start getting their faces on Kellogg’s boxes and stuff like that, that’s when younger kids are going to go, ‘oh, sexuality is not going to be a barrier to me being successful’,” he said. – Compiled from online sources by Jessica Staveley
Screengrab of Cardinal Pell swearing on the Bible from the Royal Commission’s live webcast.