Jail hell before final judgement

Excommunication is the unspoken penalty for Cardinal George Pell, desperately avoided by the Vatican.

Beyond that should be a one-way ticket to Hell, by church law which is distinct from criminal law. Action by a court cannot delay action by a church.

After his conviction for historical sex-abuse of children, the strongest religious punishment is required, and a formal request to excommunicate him has gone to Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli, who has that power.

Excommunication is the ultimate penalty now, for serial sex-offenders within Catholic schools and churches over generations world-wide. The punishment must reflect the lifelong damage to victims of childhood rape.

As a mortal sin in Catholic teaching, it should be a guaranteed ticket to Hell – for eternity, no parole, no secret pardon.

The recent bishops’ conference at the Vatican was just desperate damage-control, sadly lacking in moral leadership.

In secular law, the disgraced 77-year-old cardinal can use lengthy appeals to stall for years, until he dies of natural causes.

Death is just the start of his worries.

In Catholic law, a mortal-sinner is doomed to “eternal suffering in Hell”. The loophole is that any priest can absolve the guilty automatically in the secrecy of the confessional. Contrition is a tick-a-box ritual, whether real or faked.

But such earthly games are delusions for those clergy involved. They forget that final judg-ment for all involved will be from someone not bound by man-made precedent.

D. Page, Woronora