Academic journal article Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society

Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell

Academic journal article Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society

Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell

Article excerpt

Author: Louise Milligan

Publisher: Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2017

ISBN: 9780522871340:

Paperback, 384 pages, $34.99

Note by James Franklin (*)

This book is not all rubbish. Milligan has interviewed a considerable number of people and written down what they said. The accounts by some victims of clerical sexual abuse whom she spoke to have not been heard in detail before and add to our understanding of that story. Perhaps the most interesting story is Michael Costigan's recollection of what Bishop Mulkearns told him about his meeting with John Paul II. Mulkearns, by then mired in the sexual abuse scandal in Ballarat, asked for some guidance on what to do about it. The Pope turned and walked away.

The problem lies with the interpretations of evidence. The obtuseness of Milligan's understanding of human interactions is especially clear in her account of Pell's cross-examination in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over the case of Father Searson. Pell had been Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne and had some dealings with Searson, whose bizarre behaviour included stabbing a bird. Pell is asked about this on oath. He is aware of the event but not every detail. …

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