The letters being sent to staff at Catholic schools about the conviction of George Pell.

Cardinal George Pell has been convicted of child sex offences. So how are Catholic schools dealing with it?

Dr Daniel White, executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools, has written a letter to school staff, saying that that news of the verdict will bring “a range of emotions”.

He says while the legal process is running its course, staff should be “sustained by our faith in our mission”.

“Finally, we should never forget that in any matter of this nature, our concern and prayers are with victims and their families,” he adds.

LISTEN: We chat to Lucie Morris-Marr, the journalist who broke the story in 2016 and has been following the case ever since.

Principals have also been provided with “talking points”. They’re told that if they’re approached by parents who are “distressed or concerned” about their child, they should put them on to a counsellor.

As for talking to staff, again, there’s an emphasis on the legal process running its course.

“Cardinal Pell is maintaining his innocence and will be appealing,” the letter reads. “We are not able to comment further while the legal process is underway.

“Irrespective of what happens next, your work in our Catholic communities in highly valued and we should continue to focus on being the face of Christ to the children and families we encounter.”

But is that enough? The “wait and see” approach, holding on to see if Pell’s conviction will be overturned? Apart from that, just continuing as before.

Image supplied.

Some Catholic parents have had enough of the way the Church has handled the Pell case and the entire issue of child sexual abuse.

One mum, who spoke anonymously to Mamamia, said she loved her children’s Catholic primary school and was an active member of the Catholic community.

“But the last few years have shown me a culture of avoidance and silence,” she adds. “I am angry about what George Pell has done and I am angrier that Catholics refuse to talk about it.”


She says when Pell was charged with abuse, “no one wanted to talk about it”, and when the findings of the child sex abuse Royal Commission were handed down, “people averted their eyes and changed the subject when it was raised in school car park chatter”.

“But when Catholic school funding was under threat in 2017, discussion was suddenly open, passionate and outraged. School newsletters asked us to contact our local MPs, attend rallies, stand up for our Catholic schools! I have found this hypocrisy hard to stomach.”

She says several years ago, while sexual abuse by clergy was being investigated, her children were sent home with letters in their bags, directing parents on the Catholic position on same-sex marriage.

“I don’t know what the Catholic Education Offices or Archdioceses or staff at Catholic schools can do at this point to address what George Pell has done, but I never want to receive their political letters on sexual conduct again.”

Another mum told Mamamia that she felt the problem with Catholic schools was “the ‘sweep it under the rug’ philosophy that pervades everything”. She thinks one thing that Catholic schools could do to help deal with child sexual abuse is to explicitly teach consent.

“Teaching boys to seek emphatic consent means less girls abused. Teaching boys and girls that their consent is required protects them from adult abusers.

“If the Church makes it their business to promote consent at all levels, it will go some way to acknowledging their crimes and stopping future abuse.”