AFL must remove Cardinal George Pell as Vice Patron of Richmond FC
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Last week, after Brendon Gale CEO of Richmond FC made a statement that Cardinal Pell would retain his honorary role at Richmond FC, I was inundated with survivors calling me devastated and in tears. Their beloved AFL supports Pell over them.
The purpose of a Vice Patron of an AFL football club is to add prestige or lend credibility to the club. Ideally, all of the positive attributes of the patron will rub off on the organisation. Right now, all that is rubbing off on the Richmond Football Club and consequently the AFL, is that they support Cardinal Pell's honorary title above the survivors of brutal child abuse under the watch of the Catholic Church.
Cardinal George Pell is the highest ranking member of the Catholic Church in Australia. The Royal Commission into child abuse began hearings in April 2013 and since then, it's made almost 2,000 referrals to authorities, held more than 6,500 private sessions, and handled almost 40,000 phone calls. 1 However, Cardinal Pell accused the media of waging a campaign against the church over "exaggerated" child sex abuse claims. 1
According to final submissions to the royal commission into child abuse, Cardinal George Pell and other senior officials failed to exercise proper care for children in a Melbourne parish by not acting on information of sexual misconduct by a paedophile priest. 1
In light of all of this information, Richmond Football Club’s CEO Brendon Gale made a statement that Cardinal Pell would retain his honorary role as Vice Patron on the 19th of July, referring to the current legal proceedings Gale stated “We acknowledge the seriousness of these allegations against Cardinal Pell, however, in light of Cardinal Pell’s fundamental legal rights to the presumption of innocence and to a fair trial, he will remain a Vice Patron of the Club, pending the outcome of any trial,”.2
What Richmond Football Club failed to consider is that regardless of the outcome of this trial, Cardinal Pell's standing and reputation in the community is already diminished because of his response to the survivors of abuse at the hands of the Church.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the total number of AFL club members equates to one in every 28 Australians. That means thousands of survivors are AFL members.
The AFL must not add to the pain and anguish of the survivors by keeping George Pell as a patron. He is not viewed as an honorable person.
We call on the AFL to speak out to the thousands of survivors and show them that the AFL supports them. Please sign and share this petition urging AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Richmond CEO Brendon Gale to immediately remove Cardinal George Pell’s honorary role of Vice Patron.
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