DAYS after the unsatisfactorily nebulous claim that disgraced Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s Vatican department transferred $A1 million dollars to an “Australian account” in 2017 – allegedly to bankroll ‘witnesses’ testifying (falsely) against Cardinal George Pell (or for a tangential purpose) – political and Church leaders are silent on the report. Notwithstanding the time required for authorities to investigate the transfer and clear possible legal hurdles (for example, diplomatic privilege and immunity), no official intention to act has been flagged anyway by the Morrison government. In the ecclesiastical realm, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference – silent during the serial defamation that led up to Cardinal Pell’s rigged prosecution – is silent yet again, despite the undoubted concern the Becciu-Pell brawl has aroused in the minds of the faithful. In old-fashioned parlance, Catholics have been scandalised by what they’ve heard: financial corruption in Rome, an unseemly vendetta against reformer Cardinal Pell and the charge that some piece of a larger jigsaw – whose pictorial denouement was the Cardinal in handcuffs – may have been purchased with stolen euros.
The strangest detail reported by the US National Catholic Register regarding this “off the books” wire transfer to the apostolic nunciature in Canberra was the ostensible purpose: “works to be done” on the “restoration of a gate.” This is the gate. Unless the nuncio in residence (an old friend of Cardinal Becciu) plans to replace it with a solid gold version, I can’t see any substantive portion of a million dollars being spent on it. Site polymath Dot, who dabbles in etymology, pointed out earlier this week that the root of cardinal begins with a Latin equivalent for “hinge.” But if it wasn’t code – surely too cute and arrogant to be so – we are yet to hear a better explanation for how money to fix a gate helped fix a prosecution instead.
We’re told these funds were transferred to “another entity” whose mission was to “bolster the sexual abuse case against Cardinal Pell.” I’ve thought about this over the past few days and now believe no trial witness received payola for false testimony. That is a red herring and one to avoid. Pell’s enemies will only tart up demonstrable innocence of that charge as innocence of perjury to boot. Is there an “entity” involved in the Get Pell saga that fits the bill? One with a bigoted hatred for the Church and a savage longing to destroy its most senior leader in order to fatally damage Catholic prestige – at least in its febrile imagination? One that solicits donations from at home and abroad using Pell hatred as promotion? Certainly. But this should not be a parlour game. Stolen money has been associated in the international press with Australia’s most notorious miscarriage of justice. If the Attorney-General isn’t interested in that, what is he interested in?