Holy Week Justice for Pell

THE FULL BENCH OF THE HIGH COURT of Australia today unanimously granted George, Cardinal Pell special leave to appeal, which was heard instanter and allowed. All his convictions were quashed, and verdicts of acquittal ordered to be put in their place. He will be free for Easter when no doubt he will celebrate the Great Feast with a joy he has probably never known before.

The hate-fest has begun already on social media. Evidence is ignored if ever first consulted. Pell, a social and moral conservative in the eyes of secular Australia who stood for all that they hate about religion, and the Church most of all, and who had—beyond their wildest dreams—been accused of one of the worst of modern crimes.

Many issues will soon emerge and demand attention. One is the role of the media in creating an atmosphere that made a fair trial almost impossible. The national broadcaster, the ABC, has been particularly guilty of a bias bordering on criminal.

Another is the conduct of the Victoria Police in Operation Tethering, a police task force that was admitted in court as being essentially out to get Pell. It was set up before any complaint was even hinted at, and then set out with a vengeance to fish for anything to use against Pell. Twice the director of public prosecutions sent back the police brief. Victoria Police pursued it to the bitter end. The role of Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is of particular concern, who has been accused of leaking material about the Pell investigation to the media in the early days of the police “investigation.”

Also of critical concern is the atmosphere created by the media prejudicial to any fair hearing for Pell. The ABC ranks high on the list of those who consistently poisoned the public perception of Pell, but they were not the only ones. David Marr, Louise Milligan are names that come immediately to mind. Journalists like Andrew Bolt who dared to question what was happening were voices crying in the wilderness, or rather in the midst of the mob.

The trials themselves merit review. Of the two trials, one collapsed under the weight of its own evidential inadequacy. The other saw a hung jury, 10-2 in Pell’s favour, and thus a retrial was necessary. The second jury found unanimously against Pell. The conduct of that trial merits special attention. It was the hugely flawed evidence of one complainant, whose alleged fellow victim had claimed before his death that Pell had not abused him.

A decade or two from now this legal fiasco will mark a watershed moment for Victoria, if not for Australia. Only a Royal Commission will bring closure for all. It would, I have little doubt, not only reveal official malfeasance but the machinations of the media which duped, manipulated and used the general public and formed from among them something tantamount to a mob.

It is surely impossible for Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton to remain in his position. The Premier of Victoria too should consider his position after he has done the decent thing and called a Royal Commission. Which he must; if he will not, this writer will confidently assume he has much to hide.

Pope Francis has been shown to have been fully justified in not starting any proceeding against Cardinal Pell. Pell was clearly no McCarrick. Blind Freddy could see that; the blind mob could not; the malicious would not.

It is not for me to say other than as a personal opinion, but I really do not see how the deep wounds the Pell Affair have produced in every quarter can ever be healed without a Royal Commission. Australian Catholics should begin now to demand one. For you can be sure that in many respects Pell was the fall guy in a campaign that has its sights set more fundamentally on the Church, and Christianity in general.

This may well prove to be Australia’s own Dreyfus Affair.

A Royal Commission now.

The High Court’s summary statement can be read here. Its full judgment can be read here.

To end, the cardinal’s own statement, a model of its kind.

Join the Conversation

  1. When I received the BBC breaking news alert regarding Cardinal Pell earlier today, I immediately thought of you Father and that of the truth finally prevailing—
    Huzzah Father!
    But, and I say this with cautious leeriness, we must shore ourselves from the onslaught of ravenous wolves— those who prowl in the shadows looking to devour the modern day lambs of God— they will neither tire nor rest in their blood thirsty quest for the blood of righteousness innocents!
    Come Sunday, we will rejoice— may we lift Cardinal Pell and his loved ones up in our joyous thanksgiving!

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply. I just saw the spam filter had gobbled three of your comments! Why it is picking on you I have no idea. An enemy hath done this!

      Cardinal Pell is one of those real people you mention in another comment, in whom we should have accorded more attention. But better late than never!


      1. I do belive it to be a darker power that dumps me in the spam bucket…but that is another story for another day Father…there is so much we must pray for…and joy for Cardinal Pell.
        But now I pray that this virus does not continue to shutter our houses of worship as that would so bring only delight to our ancient enemy…

  2. Oh, oh, oh – what wonderful news today! I admit I had little hope. Blessed be the Lord God, Who hears the cry of the innocent, Who is never absent in our trials.

    Your detailed grasp of the facts has been a great service, Fr Hugh

    1. I am rarely brave, but the mob is such an abhorrent and destructive thing, and the acquiescence, or worse, of those who should have fought for justice was so appalling as to pretty much demand the raising of a hue and cry.


  3. Dear Hugh,

    Well said! I am so glad and grateful….



    Sent from my iPad

    1. It is a relief, no doubt about it. We must remember Pell has spent 400+ days in gaol. Now, there must be a reckoning for everyone’s sake.


  4. Snippets from today’s Traditional Latin Mass

    Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me : overthrow them that fight against me. Take hold of arms and shield : and rise up to help me.

    Keep me, O Lord, from the hand of the wicked: and from unjust men deliver me.

  5. Thank God that justice has been done. I have followed this case in the media and it appears that many things were ignored which would have resulted in an alternative, just result.

  6. One could not doubt the cardinal’s innocence & to see him forgive his accusers is truly Christianity at work. God grant His Eminence many fruitful years to be of service to Holy Mother Church!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.