I watched an interview this morning with Cardinal George Pell from Australia. Regardless of religion and stance on the awful pedophilia that exists not only in organized religion it but in too many workplaces and organizations, here is a person who was exonerated not only once, but multiple times. He was imprisoned for over a year while appeals were heard and judged in the Supreme Court. He was unanimously and finally declared innocent.
The interview delved into his emotions and how he coped with unjustified imprisonment. Of course there are people who have suffered worse, but here was an inspiring account of how he avoided anger and prayed for those who falsely accused him. If anyone is familiar with how accounts of Jesus portrayed his unjust torture, imprisonment and crucifixion, the very least one can agree on was that he was docile, did not fight back, did not act out in anger, and prayed for his accusers, torturers and executioners. Accounts of imprisoned and tortured disciples and apostles show an imitation of Jesus.
Cardinal Pell has written about his experiences. I have not read the journals but would like to. In this interview just before his natural death, he explained how and why he did not react in anger, but trusted God and prayed for not only his accusers but for all of those who have suffered from sexual abuse. He remained, it seems, as calm as he did throughout the interview. Toward the end, the interviewer verbalized his own opinion that the Cardinal’s experience seemed to parallel those of prophets in the Bible who suffered unjustly, whose experiences were portents of things to come. He implied that things are going to get worse in the future and that we can use the Cardinal’s response as an example of how to react.
Cardinal Pell, interestingly to me, did not agree with the negative view of the future. He expressed great hope despite how things might seem. This was as enlightening to me as was his forgiving response to imprisonment and unjust suffering. We do live in a time where many are losing hope and predicting awful times ahead. Perhaps in some ways they may be proven correct, but I agree that there is always hope.
This does not mean that we ignore the things we see as signs of what may come. We should indeed prepare as we see fit. From this interview I see that the greatest preparation is within us. The most incredible things that I gain from my faith in terms of how to live my life, are perspective, and a philosophy of living in love and hope. These things increase the love of others, and of prayer for them despite evil. With preparation there is then peace, and it leads to joy.