Australian Cardinal Pell Loses Appeal

Melbourne, Australia, Aug 20, 2019 / 06:31 pm (CNA).- The conviction of Cardinal George Pell has been upheld by the Court of Appeals in Victoria. After an appellate panel announced its decision at a court proceeding Aug. 21, the cardinal was returned to prison.

“By majority (2 to 1), the Court of Appeals has dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for the commission of sexual offences. He will continue to serve his sentence of 6 years’ imprisonment. He will remain eligible to apply for parole after he has served 3 years 8 months of his sentence,” Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said in her opening remarks in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

“The offenses in respect of which Cardinal Pell was found guilty by a County Court jury were one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16, and four charges of indecent act with a child under 16. The trial lasted for five weeks. The jury deliberated for several days. The jury’s verdict was unanimous,” Ferguson noted.

“Cardinal Pell’s conviction and this appeal have attracted widespread attention, both in Australia and beyond. He is a senior figure in the Catholic Church and is internationally well known,” Ferguson noted.

“As the trial judge, Chief Judge Kidd, commented when sentencing Cardinal Pell, there has been vigorous and sometimes emotional criticism of the cardinal and he has been publicly vilified in some sections of the community.”

“There has also been strong public support for the Cardinal by others. Indeed, it is fair to say that his case has divided the community.”

Pell’s appeal was dismissed on all three grounds the defense presented. Read more at Catholic World Report

Comment:

This is very disappointing news, and pitiful to see the Cardinal in handcuffs when, more likely than not from what we know about this case, he is innocent of the charges.  A couple of the bloggers over at Catholic World Report speak for many, if not the majority, so I’ll make their comments my own… 

It seems that 2/3 of the Court of Appeals in Victoria wouldn’t recognize Justice if she came up and spat in their faces; as, given half a chance, I’m sure she would. Justice Wienberg seems to be the only one with either intellect or integrity.

And

No surprise here. They were hell-bent on conviction. Looking at what evidence that is available to the public, what was denied to the defense, and the dungeon theory of hidden proceedings and no media, this is nuts. The state of Victoria and its vaunted reputation for corruption and dogging Pell for years in search of a charge…even the OPI knew of the relentless efforts to find someone to set up the initial charge.And to think Pell went there on his own with no credible threat of extradition.  Ends…

Feel free to share your thoughts – but, in any case, let’s all  remember the Cardinal in our prayers. 

48 responses

  1. I think he is guilty.

    He had a fair trial, was convicted by a jury and there are other allegations and evidence that he has not been prosecuted for.

    We certainly know that Pell was friendly with other pedophile priests and whilst in a position of authority in Australia did everything in his power to deny victims of other priests justice, bully them, force them into long expensive legal proceedings or settle for a paltry sum and a non-disclosure clause to help maintain the secrecy of the offences committed.

    If Pell has suffered from a flawed legal system, it is no more flawed and no more corrupt than the system he used on other victims of clerical rape and pedophilia.

    “Hoisted on his own petard”.

    3.5 years is a pathetic sentence for raping a child anyway. He should die in jail.

    3.5 year is a reasonable sentence for his complicity in helping to cover up and deny the crimes of other priests and bully the victims and their families. So either way I am glad he is in jail.

    • Greg Grimer,

      I disagree. The Anglican website Quadrant has laid out all the facts in this case including the way the Australian media have been gunning for Cardinal Pell because of his orthodoxy for a long time now, especially on the homosexual issues. It is unbelievable that someone can be locked up on the word of one person, without corroboration. In Scottish law, there has to be corroboration, for obvious reasons.

      Also, there were two accusers originally and one of them died but before his death, he told his mother that nothing happened, that the Cardinal hadn’t assaulted them. I believe she testified in court or maybe she was one of those not allowed – the whole trial stinks to high heaven. He shouldn’t be convicted because he supported other accused priests. That’s not in keeping with the belief that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Guilt by association is totally wrong.

      • People in our society are obsessed with sexual crime. They no longer think about these issues rationally. Accusers are presumed to be telling the truth until proven otherwise. It’s not a way to run a criminal justice system. It’s a modern day witch-hunt.

    • If +Pell is guilty for the institutional mishandling of clerical sexual abuse allegations, as you claim, then he will account for this before God. He may well deserve to be punished, but he should not be punished by proxy of something he didn’t do. That is not how a criminal justice system should work in a developed country like Australia. Catholics do not believe in substitutional atonement, this is a Calvinist doctrine.

    • Josephine, thank you for that very informative link. I always suspected that he was stitched up and to think that Vatican officials colluded with the media etc, is truly shocking. Poor, poor man. In handcuffs, how horrible. What did they expect him to do, sprint away?!

  2. I do not believe that +Pell is guilty. The details of the allegation resemble the plot of the film ‘Doubt’ starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour-Hoffman, specifically the bit about swigging the altar wine. I wonder if the complainant saw this film and was inspired? The swigging the altar wine part of his story seems too clichéd to be true. Did +Pell’s defense not think to mention that part of the allegation seemed to be borrowed from a Hollywood film? They obviously hadn’t seen the film.

    • Miles Immaculatae,

      That’s very interesting about the Hollywood film – I didn’t know that. It’s a long time since I’ve been to the cinema, so that is very interesting for me to read.

  3. The allegations made against +Pell are uncannily similar to allegations made against a family member of mine. For this reason I strongly suspect that +Pell is not guilty, and it would appear to me that when people fabricate false sexual abuse allegations they seem to follow a clichéd archetype. My family member was acquitted on all charges by a jury of his peers, and the garden shed where the abuse was alleged to have taken place was proven not to have existed at the time the assaults were claimed to have taken place, as shown by a Google satellite image.

    • That must have been terrible for your family – I can’t think of anything worse than a false allegation but especially a sexual allegation.

      That was a classic, about the garden shed. Thank God.

      • Yes, the allegations were disastrous for my family. My mother had a breakdown and ended up on a psychiatric ward, my siblings were scarred, and I had a crisis of faith and stopped going to Mass for about two and a half years. During this period we all found out who our true friends were.

        There is certainly a witch hunt mentality in our society in regards to sexual crime. People don’t really care about true victims of sexual abuse, they just want an opportunity to express self-righteous outrage.

  4. There is no doubt that this “trial” was a stitch-up. The State of Victoria is a disgrace. The first trial of Cardinal Pell in Victoria was held to be a miss-trial because, although never published officially, that trial found him not-guilty by a jury 10-2. Now Victoria does not like a 10-2 dismissal so they changed their law making such a verdict as being a miss-trial and so he was tried again and this time the jury came up with the verdict that the politicians wanted and he was found guilty by a unanimous verdict. It was this second trial that Cardinal Pell challenged and the result of this appeal is the one we are now talking about. There were three judges and two of those judges dismissed his appeal but Justice Ginsberg, the third and more experienced judge published a 204 page summary of his judgement upholding the appeal. I cannot give you here the 204 page summary but there is sufficient disquiet in the legal fraternity on the basis of judge Ginsberg’s dissent from the other two judges that there is a strong feeling that this whole case should go to the Supreme Court of Australia. Remember that the appeal was in the Court of the State of Victoria not in the Supreme Court of Australia.
    It may well be that justice will finally be done to Cardinal Pell as CLEARLY he is not guilty of the accusation made against him in the Court of Victoria.

  5. There is nothing easier today than to make allegations of sexual assault, without any evidence to back up the claim. If Greg Grimer has any concrete evidence to support his claims about Cardinal Pell, ie solid, unrefutable, provable facts, let’s have it.

    Over to you, Greg.

  6. Hello all,

    I have been away from the blog and the Church for a while as I have been experiencing personal problems since a close friend died of cancer in January last year, and it’s been a depressing time.

    I’m coming back to the Church slowly, and what better way to start than coming here!

    I do not believe the cardinal is guilty of his crimes. As his lawyer, Bret Walker said, it is beyond the laws of physics for a man to be in two places as once. He is accused of being in the sacristy raping a 13 year old over a period of 5-6 minutes. It was directly after Mass, so the sacristy was full of altar servers and at least one other priest. Hypothetically speaking, if it were empty and +Pell decided to take a risk, we must remember he was fully vested. Vestments are heavy, cumbersome and difficult to remove alone, and it would have probably taken 5-6 minutes to disrobe. The risk of someone intruding is also beyond belief, especially after Mass. Mgr Charles Portelli said it was, and is, the cardinal’s custom to greet parishioners at the western door of the cathedral after Mass. 20 witnesses testified as to the cardinal’s character, and these include the MC, adult servers, ex-choirboys and so on.

    He was found not guilty 10-2 originally, but the state of Victoria changed the law and it was ruled a mistrial. How can the 3 same judges suddenly change their minds?

    One complainant recanted of his accusations before he died.

    The police have been gunning for +Pell for years and it is chilling. Just look up Operation Tethering:

    https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/03/28/police-started-cardinal-pell-taskforce-a-year-before-any-crime-was-reported/

    • Catholic Convert,

      It’s good to see you back on the blog. Oddly enough, you came into my mind a week or so ago and I did wonder where you’d gone… People stop blogging for all sorts of reasons; some relating to work and home duties, others only comment if it’s a topic which interests them (I call them “a great help” – note the sarcasm… 😀 ) Then again, others just can’t be bothered – lazy blighters. And there are those who want to spend more time in prayer and caring for their own spiritual life. Best way to deal with them is to pile on the flattery… You are SO holy… that sort of thing…

      So, suffering from depression or sadness following the death of a friend is a perfectly valid reason to withdraw from blogging.

      But,NOT from attending Mass. I remember you were here in the days before you were received into the Church and that it was only later that you moved to attending the Traditional Latin Mass, so I’m writing this on the assumption that you continued to attend the old Mass.

      I have no idea what they taught you in your RCIA course, the course run by dioceses for would-be converts, but they ought to have mentioned that missing Mass without very good reason, constitutes a mortal sin – that is, the life of grace leaves your soul. And if you die in that state, there’s only one place you can go and – hint, hint – it ain’t Heaven… Unfortunately, the people running these courses don’t usually believe that but, like it or not, that is the fact of the matter. Anyone who is genuinely ill, of course, is not committing any sin by missing Mass, but, listen, I’m always puzzled by people (I had a friend who fits this description) who go to pieces over a death – any death. My own mother died in 2015 and I still miss her every day but… well… we’re ALL going to die, sooner or later. We all have to die of something. So while sadness is understandable – one of my own friends has been very ill recently and is to have a major heart operation in a few weeks – no Catholic who understands the Faith would allow that natural sadness to slip into depression. Not to the point where they abandon Christ and His Church – and before you say that you didn’t abandon Our Lord, the two are inseparable.

      I’ve got a bunch of relatives who have been lapsed for years and who tell me that I needn’t worry, they will return to the Faith “in their own good time”. My reply is to remind them that the problem with that theory is that they’re not in charge of the time.

      So, c’mon – get with the programme and fail not to attend to at least the basic duties of Sunday (Traditional Latin) Mass and regular Confession. Throw in a daily rosary and some spiritual reading and voila! You’ll be spinning along that straight and narrow path to the tune of When the Saints go Marching In…

      Oh, and don’t forget to keep blogging! 😀

      • Ed,

        Thank you for your words of welcome, which are characteristically to the point. I fully intend to go to confession, and I am trying to make an appointment as it may take a while, but the local priests need some cajoling to hear them outside the set half hour slots before the Saturday Vigil.

        I suppose death affects everyone differently, but there were other issues as well, but I won’t discuss them here.

        I’m back with the programme, and I trust that you are still as slim and glamorous as you ever were?

          • MM,

            Thank you for posting that article about the new Mass – although I have a feeling that we’ve discussed the issues around the new Mass and SSPX fairly thoroughly with CC over the years and, if my memory serves me correctly (for once!), he wasn’t having any of it.

            That’s a pity because the one thing about which we should all be vigilant, is ensuring that we are offering true worship to God – not “worship” that we enjoy, which we think is “better” than the other kind, but true worship. The one thing upon which we can all agree about the new Mass is that it is controversial and has been since the get-go. A danger sign. The other indisputable fact is that the Traditional Latin Mass is the same Mass which nourished the saints and martyrs down the centuries. One clearly pleases God – or He would not have raised up saints and martyrs – and one clearly does not please God because, as some leading Cardinals said when it was introduced back in the late sixties: “The new Mass departs, in whole and in part, from Catholic theology of the Mass.” (The Ottaviani Intervention).

            So, it will be interesting to see what CC thinks of the article you posted.

        • Catholic Convert,

          I don’t know where you live but there must surely be a parish where there are regular confessions and you don’t need to make an appointment.

          Listen, one of the things that certain Catholics forget when they go into the Confessional is the old adage: be brief, be sorry, be gone.

          Making an appointment for confession suggests you’re planning a lengthy chat – “the box”, however, is not, in my humble opinion, the place for lengthy chats. And a room in the presbytery is certainly NOT the place for confession. Confession is for just that: confessing sins, saying how often, saying sorry (Act of Contrition), receiving your “penance” and then thanking the priest as you take your leave. Minutes. If the priest thinks you need some spiritual guidance, well, that’s irritating for the folks outside in the queue, but so be it. Penitents who go in with their life story, though, puzzle those of us brought up with the instruction to be brief, be sorry, be gone!

          I acknowledge that everything I am saying here is said in ignorance of what you feel you need to speak to a priest about, but, generally, my own view, for what it is worth, is that if you need a long chat with a priest I’d suggest you make an appointment for such a chat, separate from your confession.

          Personally, I’ve never felt any desire to confide anything in any priest – I go to confession anonymously, aware that Our Lord is the Priest hearing my sins and absolving me but, as for personal advice… a blether over a coffee with a trusted friend does the trick.

          Indeed, someone recently asked me to write to a priest whom we both knew some years ago, to ask for his advice and assistance on a personal matter relating to a member of her family. Against my better judgment, I agreed to do so. To my astonishment (and her embarrassment) he chose to ignore the email and also my follow up email on her behalf, expressing her disappointment that he had chosen to ignore her request for advice, which she now wished to withdraw. Still no reply.

          So, do not have high expectations, Catholic Convert, because the clergy these days seem to have little comprehension of the only reason we need priests – which is to save souls.

          I would encourage you (albeit in ignorance of what it is that you wish to discuss) to simply make sure that you know the sins you need to confess (as opposed to temptations or imperfections, which are not matter for confession – in other words, we need not confess those; just sins.) Whatever you decide, do not expect to necessarily meet with a great priest, full of understanding and wise discernment. I hope, sincerely, that you do meet such a priest but don’t get downhearted and depressed if you meet with a less than perfect spiritual adviser. Let’s face it, if you slipped into a depression because a friend died, you’re not likely to be jumping for joy if you meet a spiritual director who is watching the clock as it approaches his dinner time 😀

    • Catholic convert,

      It is wonderful to see you post on the blog – like Editor, I have though about you and “where you had got to”. Welcome home!

      I am very sorry to hear of the death of your close friend and the associated sadness. Bereavement is a very difficult time and I will pray for your friend and those who knew him/her, including you – of course.

      Is is good to hear you are returning to the Church – which is of course the best place to be! For one thing, it means we are best placed to pray for the loved ones we have lost and for a solution to any problems we face personally.

      It is great to see you, and I echo Editors comments about sticking around!

      All the best!

      🙂

  7. One of the most compelling reasons for the Cardinal’s innocence is that he returned voluntarily to Australia to clear his name. He didn’t have to do it , but he did,and was stitched up . Of course his real crime is that he’s a Catholic.

    • Bill,

      I couldn’t agree more. The whole thing is a stitch up from start to finish. When I watched the footage of the police interview I was never in any doubt that His Eminence was innocent. He appeared to be absolutely disgusted when the charges were put to him. I knew then that this wasn’t a man who would commit such atrocities.

      • I recall a number of years ago when the Cardinal was asked about homo unions, he’s reply was God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Ouch!

  8. I happened to be in Sydney when Cardinal Pell said his first Mass at the cathedral after being made a cardinal. To be honest I did not really take to him; he seemed to somehow exude power and grandeur, but I do not for one moment believe he is guilty of molesting those boys in the sacristy as charged. The whole thing is a travesty of justice and the state of Victoria should be shamed by it. I do not understand why there is not more of a protest from lay and clergy in Australia however. This poor man is surely undergoing terrible suffering and I hope he will eventually be cleared.

    • Elizabeth,

      I suppose that’s something to be welcomed that he exuded power and grandeur since the new bishops and cardinals are usually keen to project their image as “one of the boys”, no different from the rest of us, LOL!

    • Elizabeth,

      I don’t think Cardinal Pell is the most orthodox tool in the shed, since we discussed some years ago his falling right into the Adam and Eve trap laid for him by Richard Dawkins (“If Adam and Eve were just archetypes, then what becomes of original sin?” said the Dawk, gloating over his hapless victim).

      However, he clearly seems to have not endeared himself to certain persons in high places. If you check the article I just posted at the bottom, it seems this bogus investigation of him actually started a mere month after Pope Francis was elected.

  9. It seems that I got the name of the dissenting judge wrong. His name is Judge Mark Weinberg not Ginsberg. The trouble is that I was relying on my memory as to what I had just read and my memory got it wrong. It seems that there is no certainty that this travesty of judicial shenanikins will be accepted by the Supreme Court for further investigations but there is a groundswell of opinion within the legal fraternity that this rejection of the appeal by Cardinal Pell over his conviction, is causing them quite a bit of anxiety. Judge Mark Weinberg’s dissent from the opinion of the other two judges really does call for a clearing up of what has gone on.

    • It is never a good idea to quote or read from the Tablet. It is an appalling publication run by petty minded charlatans and sundry heathens.

      • Liberanos,

        It’s useful to see the way a modernist rag like the Tablet reports this kind of injustice. So, as long as the reader is aware of the nature of said rag, it’s interesting, and, as I say, can be very useful, to keep an eye on it. Some years ago they revealed that their readership is 40% Anglican – that was then, so I suspect it’ll be closer to 90% now! So, as long as those who read and quote it realise that it really IS a Protestant publication, no harm done!

        It certainly cannot be taken seriously as a Catholic publication. That’s a fact.

    • RCA Victor,

      That’s a great article by the priest who really does cover the whole situation very well. He deals with the claim that supporters of Cardinal Pell have made a different standard for him than for Cardinal McCarrick perfectly, by pointing out that McCarrick “left a trail of evidence” while one of the appeal court judges believed Pell to be not guilty. That’s quite a big difference, right there.

    • RCA Victor,

      That is an excellent article quoting Fr. Raymond De Souza – first class. As you say, “the stitch-up just got stitchier”. And then some…

  10. An Australian friend sent me this post from Facebook written by her brother:

    Damien Rogers Pell was totally innocent, there was no evidence, it all supported Pell’s innocence. Has anyone ever heard of a case where police set up a task force (over a year before any complaints were made against Pell?) to actively go out looking for people to make accusations? The only people they could apparently find to make claims were people like the convicted pedophile who’s case collapsed with his lies. Even the supposed second victim in this fake attempt (a drug addict apparently) admitted it was all lies to his mother in a death bed confession, but the court refused to let the jury see that evidence. Despite their fake accusers crumbling and their lies falling apart, police ignored the public prosecutor refusing to prosecute the case, saying there was insufficient evidence for a case and the Vic police continued the prosecution themselves anyway, but the jury acquitted Pell. So they ran the trial again, withheld vital evidence that showed Pell was innocent, and found him guilty on just the word of this one anonymous accuser (who the dissenting judge just stated gave unreliable testimony) without any actual evidence? (according to those who sat through the trial) or his mate to back up his story, who had already admitted it was all a lie. Its not Pell exposed now, its the framing of Pell that has been exposed, and our now disgraced justice system.

    • Helen,

      That’s a fantastic comment from your friend’s Facebook. It really sums the whole case up brilliantly. They should be hanging their heads in shame, both the police and the courts, who hounded Cardinal Pell – and if he dies prematurely, it will be their fault.

  11. I was shocked to hear that Cardinal Pell had lost his appeal – for one thing, I did not know it have even begun. I had always been confident an appeal would succeed, given how flimsy the conviction appears to be – essentially based on the uncorroborated word of a single person.

    Granted, you cant judge a book by its cover, but from what I know of Pell’s character I simply cannot believe he is guilty.

    Australia has form for false convictions of Catholic Prelates – Archbishop Wilson won an appeal in 2018, against a conviction of covering up abuse – which makes Cardinal Pell’s conviction seem very sinister.

    I hope and pray that justice will be served with a 2nd (and final) appeal.

    I think that Australians, regardless of background or what they think of Cardinal Pell, ought to take a step back and wonder as regards the quality if their justice system. It seems very politically motivated and media influenced, to say the very least.

  12. First time commenter here but long time lurker of this great blog that’s full of righteous anger and great topics but also of wonderful humour. Thank you, Editor, for not shutting it down down as being deaf I’ve learnt so much from such blogs that are my physical table discussions that in reality I can’t fully join in.

    Being a Sydneysider and having personal knowledge of ++Pell’s personable (he is not as cold as some would have it and I think is a naturally good man although his theology and Scriptural knowledge is a bit askew!) and consistent propensity to greet people after Sunday High Mass, and as logic would dictate from court evidence, I know he is not guilty and abhor the verdict of the two judges who are obviously nervous of discrimination (but may God bless Justice Weinberg!j. As ++Pell is not a canonised saint, he surely cannot be accused of bilocation!🙂

    Until a possible High Court challenge, nothing can change the fact that he’ll in prison for a while now, and given he’s a very big man (6’5” plus) and with serious health issues, please do pray for him that he remains well as I can’t imagine the prison would condescend to give him a king single bed! Not being comfortable at night at his age would be a nightmare although I know he’d be offering up his sufferings for all.

    • Mary,

      I am delighted to welcome you to our blog – being hard of hearing myself, your explanation that you value the blog for that reason struck a chord with me (so to speak!)

      It is heartening to know that there are Australian Catholics like John Raynor and your good self, who are able to discern the truth about the Cardinal’s predicament. I hope I’m never on trial – for anything! – in that particular location; seems to have a reputation that explains the term “Kangaroo court” perfectly!

      I’m looking forward to reading more contributions from you in the future, so do, please, stick around! You are more than welcome.

      • Dear Editor, thank you for your very kind welcome! Having cerebral palsy since birth, I hope you’ll excuse any punctuation, grammar etc mistakes that I may make. 🙂

        May I also say you have some wonderful commenters here especially that of VRCVictor and Athanasius (and naturally your good self) who have some great things to say.

        If you haven’t seen it already, below is an excellent article by renowned Australian historian Keith Windschuttle who critiques the very bizarre judgement of the two judges who refused ++Pell’s appeal.

        https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2019/08/double-standards-in-the-court-of-appeal/

        Btw you’ll be be surprised how many right thinking and influential writers and journalists, of whom many are atheists and agnostics as well as Christian, support ++Pell in Oz.

        Editor: Mary, this post went into moderation – no reason that I can see, so apologies.

    • Josephine,

      That Vatican statement is a dirty, back-handed smear against Cardinal Pell. Last sentence:

      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.

      In other words, the corrupt filth behind clerical walls in Rome are celebrating their victory. What a contemptible group of scum.

  13. Praying for poor Cardinal Pell. I don’t believe a word of the accusations against him. They sound highly improbable, not to say incredible, to me – it must be a worry to the faithful clergy that they can be found “guilty” of such terrible crimes on very unsatisfactory evidence. Thank God for the dissenting judge’s words explaining that the evidence left plenty of room for doubt- this must be some comfort to the Cardinal. Assuming it’s possible to write to him, I fully intend to do so.

  14. Just looked at the pictures of him in handcuffs- heartbreaking. At least he resembles His Master and Lord in this hour of darkness. I’m sure that everything, every lie and evil machination, will one day be made known, and he will have glory and reward then to make up for this deep humiliation.

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