Cardinal Pell's Appeal Dismissed

The news is breaking this morning that Cardinal Pell's appeal against conviction for historical child abuse has been dismissed on a 2-1 majority. He is to remain in prison and will not be eligible for parole for over 3 years.

This is the judgement in full:

Basically it boils down to this:
So the evidence was in danger of leading the jury to dismiss the case against Pell, and this was bad because...All I can think is because they want Pell convicted. Can you think of an alternative scenario?
Notably, Justice Weinberg, a former Federal Court judge who presided over the trial of Melbourne's Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas last year, said there was a body of evidence that made it "impossible to accept" the victim's account.

"From ... the complainant’s evidence, it can be seen that there was ample material upon which his account could be legitimately subject to criticism. There were inconsistencies, and discrepancies, and a number of his answers simply made no sense," Justice Weinberg wrote in his judgement.

Weinberg continued:
"An unusual feature of this case was that it depended entirely upon the complainant being accepted, beyond reasonable doubt, as a credible and reliable witness. Yet the jury were invited to accept his evidence without there being any independent support for it."
Justice Weinberg placed weight on the testimonies of church officials who claimed Pell would have never been left alone at St Patrick's Cathedral and would have been greeting parishioners at the entrance when the abuse was said to have taken place.

"All of these witnesses were important, but there were some whose evidence was critical," he wrote.

"It can fairly be said that their evidence, if accepted, would lead inevitably to acquittal.

"The same result would follow, even if the only finding that could be made was that their evidence, as regards the events in question, was a 'reasonably possible' account of what had occurred."

The Vatican has released a statement:
Holy See Press Office - Statement on Cardinal Pell verdict:
While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on 26 February after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal.
As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.
At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.
This is considerably more supportive than his fellow bishops in Australia.

This from Archbishop Fisher

As with all the bishop's statements, this is weak and seems to be very much non-committal. There's also no mention of pastoral support for Cardinal Pell.

This statement from Archbishop Vincent Long OFM is similar.

And this one from the President of the Australian Bishop's Conference Mark Coleridge.

I understand the need to consider the victims first and foremost and to be aware that there is a great deal of anger, but there is need to support and encourage the principle of justice at the same time. To me all these statements demonstrate how the bishops all over the world, are reactionists and never proactive.

How could there be a situation where Cardinal Pell was committing acts like this and no one knew anything about it (especially given the open areas the acts are alleged to have taken place)? We already know in other cases like that of McCarrick, Daneels and Conry here in the UK, basically, everyone knew that there was really problematic stuff going on. If Pell was committing abuse in open areas of Cathedrals etc, how could it be that everyone who knows him has a different opinion of him?


  1. Ed, You are right. In the present climate it is too easy to accuse and the media wanrtt blood.


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