Cardinal Pell’s account to the present abuse enquiry has quite understandably attracted more anger than sympathy, casting much doubt on his humanity. However on one point, he may deserve some defence.
Pell has been roundly condemned for blame shifting to his revered late predecessor, Sir Frank Little. Some observations are in order. Most importantly, the description of Little’s actions as thoroughly ‘reprehensible’ was first proposed by Michael O’Brien in questioning. Pell repeated the phrase only by way of answering the question put to him. Yet Pell alone has been castigated for besmirching Sir Frank.
Secondly, there can be little doubt that had the Cardinal rejected O’Brien’s assertion, he’d have been widely accused of protecting his mates. A phrase like ‘damned if you do, and damned if you don’t’ comes to mind.
Lastly saintly though he was, Abp Little was a mere human, and hence as capable of flawed judgement as the next man.