Cardinal Pell’s Conviction Announced After New Trial Falls Apart

“One curious point: these grave charges were seemingly not brought against Pell until after he had been appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 to take a key financial post in Rome, in the Vatican. Francis tasked Pell to lead an effort to bring greater transparency to certain aspects of the Vatican’s finances. During this process, Pell announced publicly that he had discovered $1 billion in funds kept in accounts that were not part of any public balance sheet. Pell promised to make a full report on those funds, but in 2017 Pope Francis removed Pell from his post after his financial reforms had met with considerable internal resistance.” (ABYSSUM)

Card. George Pell: “There’s been relentless character assassination. I’m looking forward finally to having my day in court. I’m innocent of these charges. They are false.”

By Steve Skojec on 1Peter5

I’m not even going to attempt to present this one as a straight news piece. The inescapable feeling one gets when looking at the story is that it’s a farce.

After months under an Australian court’s gag order, the December conviction of Cardinal George Pell on decades-old sex abuse allegations has just been announced. The news comes after another trial scheduled to happen this month has fallen apart. The question of whether the cardinal is guilty or innocent remains.

It’s currently breaking news pretty much everywhere.

Cardinal George Pell isn’t a man I have a particular affinity for. He’s known as a “conservative,” which means only so much to a traditionalist like me. He’s a politician, like most bishops of note, if a little more rough around the edges. But he was brought into the Vatican to do a job — audit and reform the Vatican bank — and when he found over a billion Euros in the Vatican mattresses, he was suddenly called back to Australia on decades-old sexual abuse allegations as papal hatchet man Archbishop Becciu swooped in to put a stop to any momentum the financial reforms might have.

In July of 2017, I wrote a piece entitled “The Destruction of Cardinal Pell.” In it, I noted that he had fallen from the good graces of Francis when he signed the 13 Cardinals Letter, and that as soon as the years-old allegations of decades-old sexual abuse against him became formal, there were signs of it being a witch hunt. As I wrote at the time:

One can’t help but wonder whether decades-old allegations — usually impossible to prove — will do anything but leave Pell a man with a ruined reputation. Certainly, a guilty verdict under such circumstances seems unlikely. But with headlines like “The Pope’s Pedophile?” now circulating in the mainstream press, even an complete acquittal will never restore his good name.

Apparently, I underestimated the Australian courts.

Despite the Australian media gag order, the Catholic News Agency under the helm of J.D. Flynn went ahead with stories last December about Pell’s conviction — even after they received a cease and desist order from an Australian judge. In a piece by Ed Condon, the verdict was described in terms that very much called into question whether justice was even attempted. Allow me to quote from it at some length:

CNA has spoken to several sources familiar with the Pell case, all of whom expressed disbelief at the verdict. The sources spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the legal gag order imposed by the court.

“They have convicted an innocent man,” one source directly familiar with the evidence told CNA. “What’s worse is that they know they have.”

An individual who attended the entire trial in person but is unconnected with Pell’s legal team, told CNA that Pell’s lawyers had made an “unanswerable defense.”

“It was absolutely clear to everyone in that court that the accusations were baseless. It wasn’t that Pell didn’t do what he’s accused of – he clearly couldn’t have done it.”

The allegations are understood to concern Pell assaulting the two choristers in the sacristy of Melbourne cathedral on several occasions immediately following Sunday Mass.

The defense presented a range of witnesses who testified that the cardinal was never alone in the sacristy with altar servers or members of the choir, and that in all the circumstances under which the allegations are alleged to have taken place, several people would have been present in the room.

The sacristy in Melbourne’s Cathedral has large open-plan rooms, each with open arches and halls, and multiple entrances and exits, the defense noted.

Defense attorneys also produced a range of witnesses who testified that Pell was constantly surrounded by priests, other clergy, and guests following Sunday Masses in the cathedral, and that choristers had a room entirely separate from the sacristy in which they changed as a group, before and after Mass.

Observers also questioned whether some courtroom tactics used by state prosecutors were intended to stoke anti-clerical feelings in jury members.

One priest, a Jesuit, was called as an expert witness by the defense, but was consistently referred to as a “Christian Brother” by prosecutors – a move, the court observer told CNA, that seemed calculated to invoke the religious order at the center of a widely known clerical sexual abuse scandal in the country.

“It was a blatant move, but it sums up the sort of anti-Catholic, anti-clerical drift of the whole trial,” CNA’s courtroom source said. “The jury were being winked at.”

Full discussion of the charges and the evidence laid against Pell remains impossible because of the media blackout. The gag order was imposed at the request of prosecutors in June, who argued that media attention could bias the case.

“It’s absurd,” another source directly familiar with the trial told CNA. “Any Catholic in Victoria can tell you that our media has been steeped in anti-Catholic, anti-clerical and especially anti-Pell coverage for more than two decades. The prosecutors were perfectly happy with all of that leading up to the trial, and for it to carry on now.”

“The only thing you can’t talk about are the facts of the case,” the source said.

Of course, we will never know for certain the truth of Pell’s innocence or guilt. It’s my understanding that this is why the 8th Commandment is meant to be taken seriously. But despite the Church revisiting the clerical sex abuse crisis in all its debauchery these days, there are reasons to question Pell’s guilt.

He was seen as an enemy by the Australian media, who disliked his conservatism.

He was seen as an enemy by the entrenched powers within the Vatican, who resisted and resented his financial reforms.

He makes a convenient scapegoat for media and anti-Catholics of all kinds in the kind of trial that, by nature, can provide zero physical evidence, and only testimony against testimony — testimony from a single accuser — in a moment where public sentiment against the Catholic Church and its abusers is at an all-time-low.

To the last point, a quote from The New York Times’ piece on the conviction says a great deal:

“There are no winners,” said Andrew Collins, a clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ballarat. But, he said, “It’s part of the bloodletting that’s needed to happen for the Catholic church.”

Part of the bloodletting that’s needed to happen. 

I suppose it doesn’t matter if it’s symbolic, then.

Pope Francis expelled Pell from his C9 in December, at the same time as he dispensed with Cardinal Errazuriz of Chile — himself accused of covering up the abuse of Fr. Fernando Karadima. Two other cardinals said to have failed to deal appropriately with clerical abuse in their dioceses — Marx and Maradiaga — remain in the pope’s council of advisors.

As for Pell, he is expected to be sentenced despite concerns over the injustice of his treatment and an appeal against the verdict. He faces a maximum 50-year prison sentence. The cardinal is 77 years old.

******

THE COMPLAINANT’S CREDIBILITY?

The defence said no other witness corroborated the 34-year-old complainant’s allegations and the other alleged victim had told his parents before he died of an accidental drug overdose in 2014 that he had never been molested while he was a chorister. The defence says the complainant’s evidence was full of “improbabilities and impossibilities.”

“His account is ultimately based on some kind of fantasy, or a fiction, or an invention. I would like to think that it’s not an outright altogether invention, that it was based in some way on some fantasy that has morphed over the years into him believing that he’d been assaulted,” Richter said.

Anyone familiar with the conduct of a solemn Cathedral Mass with full choir would find it most unlikely that a bishop would, without grave reason, leave a recessional procession and retreat to the sacristy unaccompanied.

The defence argued that none of the choristers recalled seeing two choirboys break from a procession from the cathedral front door to the choir change room after mass in December 1996 because it never happened. The defence said the pair, as sopranos, would have been toward the front of the procession with older boys and adult choristers behind them. The older choristers would have enforced a high degree of discipline.

The complainant testified that the wine Pell caught him swigging was red, while there was evidence that the cathedral used white altar wine at the time. The defence points to Sacristan Max Potter’s evidence that the wine was always locked in a sacristy safe after Sunday Solemn Mass.

******

See also: ‘Truth and justice after the Pell verdict

******

“Keep Cardinal George Pell in your prayers. It is not easy for any priest, never mind a high-ranking one, to get a fair trial today. The hysteria and the animus that exist makes for a toxic environment.” (CATHOLIC LEAGUE)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Cardinal Pell’s Conviction Announced After New Trial Falls Apart

  1. David says:

    The conviction appears to be a miscarriage of justice, perhaps “abortion” would be a more fitting characterisation

    Like

  2. Jeannie Stiles says:

    I feel so very SAD for Cardinal Pell. My gut reaction was/is that he is innocent and he was thrown under the bus by the Lavender Mafia.

    Like

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Two reports today from The Quadrant in Australia:
    Catholics, Sex and Cardinal Pell
    – and –
    This Was a Fair Trial?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Crow says:

    Thank you for the link to the Quadrant articles, JH, they are very good. Cardinal Pell is a decent man. It is terrible that our justice system has been degraded by the use of ‘victimhood’ and demonising under the pretense of compassion.
    Don’t hold your breath for justice – there are a lot of very grubby legal operators who are jumping on the compensation gravy train. This is in addition to the vicious identity politics of the gay groups and the main stream media. Unfortunately, it seems that the jury must be some of the few remaining people who read and watch the MSM. The comments of people at the trial were that nobody believed the charges but they were too cowardly to say anything (because it goes against the appearance of fitting within the narrative). It reminds me of Germany at the rise of the Nazis.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kathleen says:

    Agreed, Crow, JH’s links from The Qudrant are very good indeed – well-researched, informative and, together with all the evidence the defence lawyers produced, clearly vindicate Cardinal Pell (who “has done more than anyone to eradicate the very abuse for which he was laughably convicted”) from this great injustice. And convicted not by a kangaroo court in a banana republic, but in one of the world’s most prestigious nations! Unbelievable.

    In the first article which is long, I will just highlight these paragraphs of interest:

    “It is hard to think of anyone in Australia who has done more to prevent child sexual abuse, to bring those responsible to justice, and to support victims and simplify processes for them.

    However, it did not take long for The Guardian and the ABC to identify Archbishop, later Cardinal Pell, as an enemy, a prime target. He is on friendly terms with John Howard and Tony Abbott. He has publicly dismissed climate alarmism as a scam which, if policies based on it and urged by the UN and various celebrities were instituted, would cause serious harm to the world’s poorest people. He publicly described abortion as the worst possible child abuse. He declined to be sorry when some Catholic teachings, on the nature of marriage, for example, or the sinfulness of homosexual activity, were claimed to be offensive. He believes that Western culture is worth preserving, and that immigrants to Australia should enter the country legally, and apart from a carefully measured number of refugees, should be people who are willing and able to make a contribution.

    And perhaps worst of all in the eyes of his detractors, he noted that it is impossible to take proper action to correct a problem until that problem is correctly identified and, therefore, any proposed remedies to sex abuse in ecclesiastical settings needed to take account of the fact that while girls and young women are overwhelmingly the most common victims of sexual abuse generally, almost all of the child sex abuse that had taken place in the Church involved homosexual men and adolescent boys. Others who have pointed out this connection have been met with similar fury, most recently, German Cardinal Walter Brandmueller .”

    Let us hope and pray this scandalous verdict will be overturned on appeal for this “faithful servant of the. Church”, Cardinal George Pell.

    Like

  6. For reasons I have made clear – after your blatantly biased political article, I don’t have much confidence in CP&S – and I won’t be commenting much here now. But following the judgment on Cardinal Pell, I am duty bound to say this: the man is innocent. He is a scapegoat. His trial was a farce. I feel ashamed to be free in a world that puts such a good man as this behind bars. That’s all.

    Like

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    The Drama Queen sayeth:“I don’t have much confidence in CP&S…

    …which reminds me of that old windbag, B. Brecht (c. 1953):
    “The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
    Had leaflets distributed…stating that
    The people had forfeited
    The confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts.”

    …besides which, I distinctly remember G&T saying he was gone from here forever and a day. Now, truth be told, I too have once or twice flounced away from blog sites with a similar utterance, which only goes to prove the wisdom of simply buttoning one’s lip and getting on with it. Do not gesticulate and vacillate at the same time.

    Like

  8. johnhenrycn says:

    A further aside, Gareth, if you please: “I am duty bound to say this: the man is innocent.”

    You are certainly not duty bound to say such a thing. Like you and others, I hope the trial verdict will be set aside on appeal, but to unequivocally pronounce him innocent is very presumptuous on the part of a mere mortal as I believe you still are. Even with a happy outcome of Pell’s appeal, only our Lord and Saviour knows for sure. On the other hand, I’m optimistic that I will still be in his corner no matter the outcome of his legal case.

    Like

  9. Moderators: I accidentally replied to JH’s comments in the name of Rubí Donkey. I think I cancelled that, but just in case it wasn’t cancelled, I’m letting you know. On reflection, I have nothing to say in response to JH. Responding to pointless provocation is a bit silly at age 67, and I am bowing out. I just wanted to support Cardinal Pell, that’s all. Thanks, Gareth.

    Like

  10. JabbaPapa says:

    after your blatantly biased political article

    It’s dishonest to simultaneously denounce absence of original writing and bias in the writing of articles.

    Besides, ALL political positions are biased by very nature.

    In my opinion ?

    Take care of the donks, they’re far less stubborn than any of us are !!

    Like

  11. Yes, there is bias and there is distortion. I have no ass to grind here. No dog in this fight. I simply thought I would support Cardinal Pell here. That’s all, whatever you think is dishonest. So spare me your complications, OK?

    Lent beckons, and goodbye to all this, thanks be to God.

    Like

  12. johnhenrycn says:

    “I have no ass to grind here. No dog in this fight.”

    Your first sentence was a credible pun – given your equine calling in life – but then you had to go all mixed metaphor on us in your next one.

    Like

  13. JabbaPapa says:

    whatever you think is dishonest

    That is a false statement.

    Like

  14. JabbaPapa says:

    It’s so sad to see this or that sectarianism or parochialism leading to a denial of fraternal Catholicity.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s