Francis asks media to withhold judgment on Cardinal Pell abuse claims

National Catholic Reporter

Joshua J. McElwee | Jul. 31, 2016

Pope Francis has asked the press to withhold judgment on reports that senior Vatican official Cardinal George Pell had inappropriate sexual contact with minors in the past, saying allegations against the prelate are still being investigated by Australian authorities.

In a short press conference aboard the papal flight back from Poland Sunday, the pontiff said the allegations against Pell “are in the hands of the justice system and one must not judge before the justice system judges.”

“If I were to make a judgment in favor or against Cardinal Pell that would not be good because I would be making a judgment first,” said the pope, responding to a question about what actions he may consider taking against the church official.

“There is doubt and there is that clear principle of law: in doubt, pro reo,” said Francis, referring to the Latin term for the concept that a defendant cannot be convicted if doubts about his guilt remain.

“We must wait for the justice system and not make a premature judgment, [or] a judgment in the media, because this does not help,” said the pope.

“Stay attentive to what the justice system decides,” he continued. “Once the justice system speaks, I will speak.”

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