A WARRNAMBOOL lawyer who has been working with sexual abuse victims has blasted Cardinal George Pell for likening the church to a trucking company.
Cardinal Pell told the Royal Commission on Child Abuse that the Catholic Church was no more legally responsible for priests who abuse children than a trucking company that employs a driver who molests women.
“If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company to be held responsible,” Cardinal Pell told the commission via video link from Rome.
But Warrnambool lawyer George Foster of Maddens Lawyers labelled the comments as “appalling”.
“I act for people who have been the subject of sexual abuse (and) Cardinal Pell’s analogy given to the royal commission likening the church’s legal liability to abused children as that of a truck company whose driver molested hitchhikers is appalling,” he said.
“May I suggest a more appropriate one: A boss who knows or suspects that his driver deliberately flouts the road laws continues to send him out on jobs.
“Late one night the driver sees a hitchhiker, deliberately lines him up and runs over him. The driver gets out of the truck, goes back to the hitchhiker, further assaults him and robs him.
“The driver then gets back into the truck, reverses over the stricken hitchhiker several times and then drives off while “flicking the bird” to the hitchhiker through his open cabin window.
“The driver then goes back to the depot and tells his boss what has happened. His boss tells him to clean the blood and guts off the bull bar, to tell no one and if challenged say that it was all the hitchhiker’s fault.”
Mr Foster added that Cardinal Pell “should make better use of his time in his new role as a senior manager of the Vatican’s finances to at least authorise the sale of a few of the priceless trinkets that decorate the Vatican to compensate the tricky and treacherous hitchhikers that have got in the way of his Church’s hierarchy”.
Mr Foster wasn’t the only one appalled, with Australian Trucking Association chairwoman Noelene Watson calling Cardinal Pell’s comments insulting. “These comments are a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the royal commission being faced by the Catholic Church and other institutions that deal with children,” she said.
The families of child abuse victims have already slammed Cardinal Pell’s “ludicrous” comparison. “The truck driver analogy was just absurd, ludicrous, and it was nowhere near a proper analogy to the Catholic Church,” said Anthony Foster, the father of two girls raped by a paedophile priest.