Content warning: child sexual abuse, sexual assault
Editors Pranay Jha and Liam Thorne are not involved in the 2019 coverage of the Honi Soit, NUS and SRC elections.
Honi can confirm that John-Paul Baladi, currently running to edit Honi Soit as part of Cream for Honi, has made a post in the University of Sydney Catholic Society Facebook group in which he appears to support the disgraced Cardinal George Pell. Pell was convicted of child sexual abuse earlier this year, and his appeal against that decision last month was unsucccessful.
In a post made to solicit campaigners, Baladi said, “What I will not stand for is the constant attacks on the Church, specifically the outright lies spread regarding Cardinal George Pell.”
Attached to Baladi’s post was a screenshot of an Honi Soit cover from semester one of this year. “The problem is – we are outsiders,” he commented. Will Hill, the President of the Catholic Society, was also tagged in the post.
Baladi also described Cream as a ticket “very similar to MINT from 2017.”
The post attracted several comments. One member of the group asked Baladi whether he would “pull this front page from the Honi FB page, edit the print version on issu [sic] to remove it, and issue an in print apology on behalf of the previous editorial team”, to which Baladi replied, “I will do as much of this as I can convince my team to allow … we will write an apology to all those who have been hurt, offended, and lied about…”
This is the first time an aspiring Honi editor has pledged to censor previous editions of Honi Soit as part of an election bid.
Honi understands that the remaining nine members of the ticket were neither consulted about nor made aware of Baladi’s post.
Brooke Salzmann, who is authorising the ticket, told Honi that “JP has … reassured us that he also believes the actions of George Pell to be disgusting, inexcusable and worthy of the most serious of punishments.”
“We are deeply saddened by JPs [sic] conduct and of course do not endorse it what so ever [sic]”
It is unclear whether Baladi’s swift about-face within the course of 24 hours is genuine or pragmatic.
“We are currently dealing with the repercussions and stress this has induced on other members and are looking at our best options moving forward,” Salzmann noted.
Polling for the Honi Soit election starts tomorrow.
More to come.
Update: Baladi has been removed from Cream. Cream’s statement can be viewed here.