Here’s a hint: When you’re talking about systematic coverups of child rape, it’s best to stick with apologizing. It’s good to remember that you can admit you’ve made mistakes without making the ludicrous, easily refuted claim that you’ve always been on the side of the victims, or humble bragging that the real problem is that you weren’t “gossips.” Doing the morally and legally responsible thing of acting when someone is abusing children is not, by the way, “gossip.” And you want to consider, while you’re explaining yourself to the world, that you still have much soul searching yet to do. Because right now, Pell remains a harrowing example of the evil of complacency.
Perhaps the most telling moment of Pell’s appearance wasn’t anything he said about the crimes on his colleagues or the litigation of victims. Instead it was when, on Monday, the deputy chairman of the committee, Frank McGuire, asked Pell point-blank, “Were you guilty of willful blindness?” And the man of God answered him confidently, “I certainly wasn’t.”