There was little sympathy for Cardinal George Pell on the streets of Tumut on Friday.
Pell was found guilty last week of sexually assaulting two boys in a Melbourne cathedral in 1996, but has launched an appeal against the finding.
The likes of former PMs John Howard and Tony Abbott and columnists Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine have expressed support for the fallen clergyman and doubt over the verdict, but there was little of either of these in evidence in Tumut on Friday.
There were no grey areas in Tumut’s Tracey Hibbert’s opinion on the matter.
“I believe he’s guilty and he should rot in jail,” she said.
“He’s appealing, and they say you are innocent until proven guilty, but the evidence is compelling. How dare someone in that position ruin lives.”
Sue Mitchell of Adelong thought similarly.
“He was proven guilty and the appropriate sentence should be handed down,” she said.
“There should be no lenience because of the position he held.”
Tumut resident and independent candidate David Sheldon said the law had made its decision and that Pell was “in the right place until his appeal goes through.”
Ben Kincaid, visiting Tumut from Bodalla on the South Coast, believes Pell should spend the rest of his life in jail.
“And he probably will,” he said.
Susan Quinnell of Gilmore looked at the matter from a couple of angles.
“I think they do target the priests but if the authorities get that kind of information they should follow it up, because kids don’t usually tell fibs.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Apostolic Administrator of Wagga Wagga Diocese has released the following statement:
“The revelations regarding Cardinal Pell over these last days have deeply shocked and disturbed us. We find in our hearts so many emotions and confusions.
“We hold deeply in our hearts all survivors of sex abuse and their families. We pledge to do all we can to stand alongside them in prayerful, transparent vigilance.
“Given that Cardinal Pell’s conviction will now be subject to an appeal in court we best leave aside further comment on this matter.
“Be assured of and comforted by my prayers and thoughts for you, my dear people, in this fragile time. Please find strength in your care for each other.
“Together, let us turn as always to the Lord Jesus and our Mother Mary, during our Masses and our prayers to guard and guide us in this “vale of tears.”
“Please pray also for our priests, deacons and seminarians. They who seek to serve you with great pastoral care are in need of their own care in these days.”
– Josh Gidney