Why the Cardinal Pell Case Has Been So Secretive

New York Times


APRIL 30, 2018

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest ranking official will stand trial on several charge of sexual abuse from multiple complainants, an Australian court ruled on Tuesday.

The slow-moving case — charges were filed in June — has been a test of both Australia’s justice system and the Vatican’s efforts to hold clerics accountable after decades of abuse scandals.

It is occurring in a country where where defamation law favors plaintiffs, where criminal law protects defendants more than it does in many other countries, and where a number of legal standards restrict reporters’ ability to publish information related to criminal cases.

Here’s a guide to why many of the details of Cardinal Pell’s case may remain obscured, and to what we know about the cardinal and the case so far.

Why can’t the public know more?

Australian criminal law tends to be more favorable to defendants, and its proceedings more secretive, than in the United States.

The country’s contempt standards prohibit reporting — after charges have been filed, and before a verdict has been reached — that might be seen as prejudicial against, or for, a defendant.

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