Listen to this song by musician, songwriter, sometime ‘Never mind the Buzzcocks’ presenter and writer of the music for the Roald Dahl musical Matilda, Tim Minchin. It’s called ‘Come Home (Cardinal Pell)’, and was written, recorded and released in three days as a response to the news that the 74-year-old Catholic clergyman will not attend the Royal Commission in to Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat, Victoria. Instead of attending the hearing at the location of one of the most sustained periods of abuse of children by priests of the Roman Catholic church, the Cardinal will remain at his workplace, the Vatican, where he is, I believe, some kind of Senior Financial Manager.
According to the Cardinal’s lawyers, it is a ‘health issue’. Must be some health issue to be bigger than the monumental scandal of hundreds of innocent lives battered and derailed by immoral, corrupt and illegal behaviour by numerous well-protected employees. But he will be well enough to have a Skype session, we are told. Phew, that’s a relief. Wouldn’t want to think that one of the most powerful religious figures in the entire world was shirking his personal and institutional responsibility for acknowledging the suffering, death and disenfranchisement of people who have been denied a voice for forty years. Forty fucking years of cover ups and denials, protection, equivocation and obfuscation of the truth.
Can you pick up that I’m a tad angry? Tim is too. He is also sad, and I share that. The shame and suffering perpetrated on the survivors makes me weep. But Tim’s song also made me smile. And his decision to put proceeds from the sale of the single towards a fund to send some of those children (now middle-aged) to Italy to witness the Skype session made my heart swell just a bit. So thanks, Tim Minchin.
For those in places other than Australia, this particular saga may not touch you directly. But there will be similar stories in your land. One example is dramatised in the factually based 2015 US film Spotlight.
If you feel moved to buy a download of the song, iTunes will oblige.
If you want a measured, thoughtful response, Kristina Keneally’s article in The Guardian (Aus Ed) is excellent.