Comedian Tim Minchin has taken aim at Cardinal George Pell in a provocative song in which he calls Australia's highest-ranking cleric in the Catholic Church scum, a coward and a pompous buffoon.
Tim Minchin's 'Come Home (Cardinal Pell)'
Tim Minchin's confrontational and controversial new song calls on "coward" George Pell to come home and answer questions relating to the Royal Commission. Vision courtesy The Project, 7pm weeknights on Ten.
The musical attack aired on Network Ten's The Project on Tuesday night and immediately attracted a swell of support from viewers and social media users, despite outrage from The Project co-host Steve Price.
Minchin welcomes legal action from the Cardinal in the musical attack in which he tells Pell to "come home and frickin' sue me".
Within hours, a crowdfunding page set up to pay for abuse victims to travel to Rome to front Pell had easily exceeded its target.
By 5pm on Wednesday, more than $128,000 had been raised via the GoFundMe page, set up by The Project hosts Meshel Laurie and Gorgi Coghlan.
Proceeds from the song, available on iTunes, will also go to the cause.
The song had the The Project trending on Twitter in minutes.
Cardinal Pell has claimed he is too ill to travel to Australia to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Cardinal is planning to testify via video link from Rome, where he now manages the Vatican's finances, on February 29.
In his controversial song, Minchin implores Cardinal Pell to return to Australia.
It begins quite innocuously:
"It's a lovely day in Ballarat, I am kicking back, thinking of you," the lyrics say.
"I hear that you have been poorly, I am sorry that you are feeling blue.
"...But a lot of people here really miss you Georgy, we really think you ought to just get on a plane. I am sure they will make you feel welcome at the pub in Ballarat, they just want a beer and a chat."
But then Minchin tells the Cardinal that he is not a "fan" of his religion, and believes that the clergyman is just being a "goddamn coward".
"I mean with all due respect dude, I think you are scum and I reckon you should come home," Minchin sings.
"Cardinal Pell, I know that you are not feeling well, perhaps you just need some sun. It is lovely here you should come home.
"You pompous buffoon, and I suggest you do it soon."
The Project's guest host broadcaster Steve Price could find no charity for Minchin.
He said the entertainer's song was "disgusting".
"Obviously, Tim Minchin feels really strongly about that, but I just think it is really disgusting the way he has resorted to personal abuse of George Pell," Price said.
"He has called him a coward, scum and a buffoon.
"Now this guy is the most senior Australian Catholic in the world. He is a Cardinal, regardless of what you make of it.
"To use your talent to just simply abuse someone from a distance, I think it is pathetic."
The Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council issued a statement re-iterating Cardinal Pell's preference to appear at the hearing in person.
"It has always been our preference that Cardinal Pell give his evidence in person but his medical condition means this cannot happen," chief executive Francis Sullivan said.
"What is most important now is that the commission hears his evidence in the most effective and timely way possible so that this case study can be finalised, that the commission can make findings and that abuse survivors can, hopefully, move forward with their lives."
The song garnered swift support on social media, with listeners commending Minchin for standing up to the church.
Some said Minchin was their hero and thanked him for the song.
But there were a few who didn't agree and found the lyrics inappropriate for television.
Minchin also received a lot of messages of support on his own website.
But the singer hopes that, if nothing else, the outrage generated by his being "transparent" might motivate the Cardinal to return.
"Oh Cardinal Pell my lawyer just called to tell me this song could get me in legal trouble.
"Oh well, if you don't feel compelled to come home by a sense of moral duty, perhaps you will come home and freakin' sue me."
Come Home (Cardinal Pell) - Tim Minchin
Hi,I do hope you enjoy my new song: 'Come Home (Cardinal Pell)'Proceeds from its sale will go into this fund: https://www.gofundme.com/sendballarattorome You can buy it on iTunes here: https://goo.gl/i2W2XBYou can stream it here: https://goo.gl/5Q97pSIt's available worldwide and will soon be up on various other digital music outlets.It might be rather confusing for non-Australians so I’ve put some background info for yez here: http://bit.ly/1PYcVgNtPosted by Tim Minchin on Tuesday, 16 February 2016