Best columns: International
The nation’s top Catholic in the dock
After decades of rumors, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, is finally facing trial for child sexual abuse, said Barney Zwartz. At this point, Australians are numb to the horror, having endured years of parliamentary inquiries and reports that produced damning evidence against so many priests. During those inquiries, Pell practically indicted himself through his “wooden, cold responses” to revelations of abuse. It was all but inevitable that the trail would lead to him: In Ballarat, where Pell served as vicar for education from 1973 to 1984, untold numbers of children were beaten and sexually assaulted by priests and nuns at a school—including Pell’s housemate, Gerald Ridsdale, who admitted to multiple child rapes. Pell was responsible for moving Ridsdale from parish to parish each time he was accused of molestation. “A combative participant in Australia’s culture wars,” the ultraconservative Pell had long been a divisive figure in Australia because of his “relentless, overbearing” style. He was ruthless in punishing priests who deviated from doctrine by advocating changes to Mass or supporting ordination of women. His critics said it was all the more remarkable that he was so lenient on priests accused of abusing children. Now he, too, stands so accused. For the first time, it won’t be the church that decides his fate, but Australian justice.
Still blaming a child soldier
Canada is finally paying reparations to Omar Khadr—and it’s making Canadians mad as hell, said Shree Paradkar. Khadr, now 30, was just 8 years old when his father, an al Qaida fundraiser, took him to Afghanistan and Pakistan and put a rifle in his hands. He was only 15 when U.S. forces shot and captured him, but instead of treating him like the brainwashed child he was, they “detained, tortured, and subjected him to an unfair trial.” Then his own country, Canada, “abandoned him in the illegal hellhole that is Guantánamo Bay” for 10 years. Khadr was finally repatriated to a Canadian prison in 2012 and released on bail in 2015, and now his lawsuit against the Canadian government has been settled for some $10 million. Canadians should be ashamed at what their country did to this citizen. Instead, they are outraged that a person they call a terrorist is now a millionaire: More than twothirds oppose the settlement, and some have even accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of treason for approving it. Where is their compassion? Child soldiers are victims, not warriors. Would Canadians be as callous if it had been a white, Christian minor tortured by the Americans? Do we “protect only those citizens we identify with?” ■