If you say “yes,” is that answer a form of virtue signaling during the ongoing hell of the multi-decade Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis?
If you answer “no,” does that mean that you aren’t taking the crisis seriously and that you want bishops and priests to be able to escape justice?
If you answer “yes,” are you a loving pro-Pope Francis progressive?
If you answer “no,” does that mean that you are a hateful traditionalist who is on the wrong side of history on this issue and many others?
What if you say that you are worried about the quality of the evidence and that you are worried that public officials in Austrailia have listened to an anti-clerical mob and rushed to judgement? If you are hard questions about the evidence — like a good skeptic or journalist would — does that mean you are a hater and don’t care about the victims?
It’s somewhat unusual to run a think piece on Monday, but I really think that readers — especially journalists — will want to read the short Crux essay that ran the other day with this headline: “Ruling cements Pell’s profile as the Dreyfus or Hiss of the Catholic abuse crisis.” The author, of course, is John L. Allen, Jr.
Allen uses a genuinely scary metaphor — if you know your European history — to describe this case. Here is the key, thesis passage, after Pell’s recent appeal was rejected:
Though Pell’s judicial odyssey may not be over, [the] ruling likely does represent the final word on another aspect of the case: George Pell is now officially the Alfred Dreyfus of the Catholic abuse crisis, meaning that opinions about his guilt or innocence are at least as much a reflection of one’s ideological convictions as about the actual evidence in the case.
Dreyfus, of course, was the French artillery officer of Jewish descent charged with treason in 1894 for allegedly passing military secrets to the Germans, spending five years on Devil’s Island. Dreyfus was eventually acquitted and reinstated to his army position, but for more than a decade, opinions about his guilt or innocence functioned as a bellwether for broader political and cultural tensions, pitting Catholic and traditionalist “anti-Dreyfusards” against pro-Republican and anti-clerical liberals.