Neither George Pell nor Malcolm Turnbull are experiencing happy days at the moment.
The Cardinal faces trial in a Victorian Court over significant matters relating to child abuse that are alleged to have occurred over several decades.
The Prime Minister leads a political party that is about to implode as conservatives and moderates fight an irreparable ideological battle in which he is accused of ratting on both sides.
They are the architects of their own demise.
Irrespective of their guilt or innocence, both are at the end of their days of power.
Although they have followed quite different career paths, there are striking similarities in their journey through life.
Both got a good start in life and were able to commence their illustrious careers with a solid education behind them. Significantly, they displayed a high level of leadership potential early in life.
Pell decided to become a priest and, from the very first day of his vocation, he set himself the goal of reaching the top. He planned to become the very first Australian to be elected as Pope and he moved unerringly along that pathway.
His lack of involvement in handling the awful disease of child abuse was not a callous disregard for humanity. He simply saw it as an obstacle to his progress to the Vatican, so he spent an enormous amount of time avoiding any involvement in solving the disgraceful crimes that were committed by people close to him. He deliberately stayed aloof. In doing so, he alienated many of his fellow priests who now deliberately avoid supporting him in his hour of need.
Turnbull did well in business, very well indeed, and earned a high public profile in the process. But, his fascination was politics and he set out to become Prime Minister, He believed that he was born for the role.
On being elected to Parliament, he had a chequered pathway, never gaining consistent popularity either with his fellow MP’s or voters. But, he did get to the top, whereas Pell didn’t quite make it. He got to the second top rung of the Vatican.
Even so, Turnbull got there by selling his soul to the conservatives in the Liberal Party in order to get their votes, without realising that this put him on the wrong side of the majority of voters in Australia who reject fundamentalism in any form. It almost cost him his job, surviving with a slender majority of one seat and a hideously divided Party.
Pell’s path up the ladder was decided by the power brokers of the Church whom he courted assiduously. He would never have risen above moderate levels if his promotions had relied upon the votes of his fellow priests. Indeed, he would have been heavily defeated as dislike of him is intense. Like Turnbull, he does not tolerate fools gladly.
Now, no matter whether he is proven innocent or guilty, he will rise no further. He will lose his current job and be forced into retirement.
Turnbull has reached the end of the line too. No matter what he does, one side or the other in his Party hates his guts and the voters have stopped listening to him.
Both now face formidable hurdles in retaining some dignity from their demise.
Pell will find it almost impossible to find an unbiased Jury and the media will turn his trial into a circus. Every salacious detail will be top of the news for every day of his long trial, especially as the charges he now faces do not just cover negligence. He is accused of actual activity personally in the abuse of children.
Turnbull faces a sworn enemy in Tony Abbott who is obsessed in bringing him down and he carries out his obsession with a burning hatred. Abbott will win and he is prepared to destroy the Liberal Party in order to spill blood. Sanity has departed the scene as personal dislike is mutual.
And, with a touch of irony, Abbott is a close personal friend of Pell whom he admires enormously. Like the demise of Pell, Abbott’s assassination of Turnbull will kill his career also.
Pell made a wrong choice in church politics. He chose to be a conservative because Popes John Paul and Benedict were arch conservatives and they had the power to get him to the top. Alas, when he got near his goal, Francis, a radical liberal, ascended to the throne and that will finish Pell’s career no matter what happens at his trial.
Turnbull leads a Party that is called Liberal, but has always been Conservative. Turnbull is not a Conservative, but pretended that he was in order to defeat Abbott. Now, he and Abbott will tear the Liberals apart. Turnbull is the last Leader of the Menzies heritage before it splits in two.
There is one other similarity. Both are poor public speakers.
Pell’s testimony at both the Victorian and Federal Royal Commissions on Child Abuse were appalling displays of hopeless communication that caused him to lose a massive volume of community support.
When Turnbull speaks, he always appears to be putting on an act. Try as he might, he comes over as not being genuine and it causes him to lose more votes every day.
So, it is all very sad.
Two talented men will fall mightily. Pell’s climb up the ladder to the Vatican was an extraordinary achievement, as was Turnbull’s return from political death after Abbott deposed him as Leader.
All is now ashes.
Yours at Large.
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