by GEORGE WEIGEL
June 29, 2017
Could this have anything to do with Vatican financial reform? Let’s get the “full disclosure” out of the way up front: Cardinal George Pell and I have been friends for 50 years, and collaborators in different projects for 25.
The Victoria police in his native Australia have now announced that they are filing “multiple charges in respect to historic sexual offenses” against Pell.
This has come as no surprise to those familiar with the fantastic campaign of false allegations of sexual abuse that has been conducted against the cardinal: allegations of which he has been consistently exonerated.
But despite that fact — or perhaps because of it — the campaign has recently intensified Down Under, creating a thoroughly poisonous public climate exacerbated by poorly sourced but widely disseminated allegations, no respect for elementary fairness, and a curious relationship between elements of the Australian media and the Victoria police during the two years the investigation leading to the current changes has been underway.
So it may be worthwhile, before offering a few of my own thoughts on another angle in this tawdry business, to note several recent comments from Australians who have not been caught up in an atmosphere of hysteria and persecution that inevitably invites comparison to Salem, Mass., in the 17th century.
Earlier this week, in the June 26 issue of The Australian, Robin Speed, president of the Australian Rule of Law Institute, a non-partisan and non-profit organization whose name indicates its purpose, cautioned against prosecutors acting against Cardinal Pell “in response to the baying of a section of the mob.”
Speed, himself an attorney, also warned that if the cardinal were charged (as he now has been) and found innocent (as his friends believe he will be), the long, drawn-out conduct of the two-year investigation could well warrant a judicial inquiry.
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