Cardinal Pell has responded to Tim Minchin’s satirical attack, and outlined that he intends to meet survivors at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
According to the ABC, 74-year-old Pell has issued a statement outlining that he intends to “meet with and listen to victims and express his ongoing support,” although he will still be giving his testimony from Rome.
In case you missed it, beloved British-Australian musician Tim Minchin aired a catchy song “Come Home, Cardinal Pell” on the 7pm Project on Tuesday night. This was released in conjunction with a campaign established by hosts Meshel Laurie and Gorgi Coghlan on GoFundMe. It aimed to raise $55,000 to send survivors of sexual abuse to Rome to witness Pell’s testimony, given he was declared too ill to travel to Australia.
The four-minute tune – which openly attacks Catholicism and Pell as a “coward” and “pompous buffoon” – has been beautifully labelled by Kristina Keneally of the Guardian as “poetry with a pungent point”. But several critics, including co-host of the 7pm Project Steve Price were quick to express distaste for Minchin’s song:
“Obviously Tim Minchin feels very strongly about that, but I think it’s really disgusting how he’s resorted to personal abuse there of George Pell,” said Price on the show according to The Australian. Similarly, on Thursday a Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer Father Frank Brennan expressed concern that the song would make a “laughing stock” of the child abuse court proceedings.
However, others were quick to defend the singer, rushing to Twitter to express their support. Comedians such as Josh Thomas and Will Anderson, and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young were quick to share their approval of the musical satire.
— Sarah Hanson-Young (@sarahinthesen8) February 16, 2016
Comedian Meshel Laurie, who was also on the 7pm Project and helped to set up the GoFundMe page took a balanced approach. “I find the song pretty full on,” she admitted on Radio National. “(But) what we are talking about are some extreme crimes against children.”
Despite these mixed reviews, the campaign has been overwhelmingly sucessful. The GoFundMe page had raised nearly $175,000 in three days and the song – with more than 400,000 YouTube views – peaked at number 1 on iTunes on Wednesday. The Ballarat survivors have issued a statement on their page, stating that “excess cash will go to establishing a healing centre in Ballarat for victims of sexual abuse by the clergy.”
Thankfully, growing awareness is enabling more sexual abuse victims to come forward. As reported in ANN last year, a Royal Commission found that 335 claims of child abuse had been made against 84 different priests in the Melbourne area.
Encouragingly, the controversy appears to have worked – a statement from Rome reads that Pell is “anxious to present the facts without further delays”. It is a heartwarming thought that musical talent can aid abuse victims on the journey to justice, or at the very least place the difficult subject of child abuse back into the public conscience.