The George Pell headline our children need to see

Or we could flip the story, and allow that young man the victory he so deserves by telling our children about him and the power in speaking up, and being heard.

What if we refocused the attention away from Pell, and made this a story about the power that comes with speaking up against the wrongs we see.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at court.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at court.Credit:Justin McManus

What if the take-out for our teens from Pell’s downfall was the strength they have to redress imbalances they see online or in the schoolyard, by using their voice.

Pell’s ruination could be the pathway to power for many of our children who deserve to be heard.

The two boys behind Pell’s downfall deserve our admiration. One is dead; a heroin overdose robbing him of this victory. The second boy, the prosecution witness in this case, won for both of them.

He won because he dared to find his voice, knowing it would be scary and gruelling and Pell’s merry band of supporters would try to steal his credibility.

Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, called the abuse ‘‘no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case’’.

Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, called the abuse ‘‘no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case’’.Credit:AAP

They’re still attempting that, with Pell’s defence lawyer Robert Richter, QC, calling the horrid abuse ‘‘no more than a plain vanilla sexual penetration case’’.

But they’ve failed. Pell woke up today in jail. And a young man who spoke up against the odds won. That’s a robust message for our teenagers who might struggle to find their voice.

Let’s tell them that. Let’s tell them a jury understood that this young man couldn’t remember everything and that some things in his recollection might not have made sense.

Let’s tell them that 12 reasonable men and women believed him over one of the most powerful men in the world because they understood that heartache and pain can make remembering difficult.


They understood that his friend, the second choirboy, might not have been able to ever bring himself to face the horror that Pell wielded one Sunday morning after Mass.

They weighed up the evidence of the prosecution witness, who didn’t look as though he carried much power, against the most senior Australian Catholic, who wore power as a badge of honour, and chose to believe him.

They delivered a judgment for every teenager.

They hold the power to right wrongs, whether it is climate change or schoolyard bullying, whether it’s the refugee imbroglio or the reason their best friend is self-harming.

They need to know that age and position don’t dictate the truth.

They need to change the church, so it reflects their volunteerism and wonderful sense of charity.

And the Catholic Church needs to embrace that, or it will struggle to survive.

Our teens need to know that their voice is important, and we need to listen to them.

That’s the George Pell story they need to hear.

Madonna King is a leading journalist and commentator who writes for the Brisbane Times. She was an award-winning mornings presenter on 612 ABC Brisbane and is a five-times author.

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