The Australian Trucking Association has joined the outcry over Cardinal George Pell comparing the church’s handling of pedophile priests to a trucking company.
Association chairwoman Noelene Watson said Cardinal Pell’s use of the analogy, during testimony before the child abuse royal commission, was a deep insult to the nation’s more than 170,000 hard-working truck drivers.
“They have families and children. Cardinal Pell’s analogy is a deep insult to every one of them,” Ms Watson said.
“These comments are a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the royal commission being faced by the Catholic Church and other institutions that deal with children.”
Under questioning on Thursday, via a live link from Rome, Cardinal Pell said the church had a moral – but not necessarily a legal – responsibility to compensate victims of pedophile priests.
“If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company, to be held responsible,” Cardinal Pell told the commission.
The comments drew an immediate response from Commissioner Peter McClellan, who asked Cardinal Pell to confirm a priest’s trusted position and regular contact with children was very different to any scenario involving a truck driver.
Anthony Foster, the father of two girls raped by notorious abuser Father Kevin O’Donnell, said the truck company analogy was insensitive and ludicrous.
It also served to highlight a legal loophole which still protected the church.
“If the trucking company had known the driver was going to do that, they could have been sued at law,” Mr Foster said.
“The Catholic Church cannot be sued at law.
“That’s a huge difference. So there’s no way that he could draw that comparison.”