COMMENTARY: Cardinal Pell’s Unsuccessful Appeal — and Reason for Hope

National Catholic Register

August 23, 2019

By Gerard V. Bradley

COMMENTARY: Justice Mark Weinberg’s dissenting opinion should provide the basis for Australia’s High Court to finally correct this awful miscarriage of justice.

The Court of Appeal of the state of Victoria late Tuesday (Wednesday morning in Australia) dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal from his sexual-abuse conviction. That conviction came at the end of a second trial on five counts of indecency with a minor, after a first jury could not agree on a verdict. (Reliable reports indicated that a majority of those jurors favored acquittal.) He was sentenced to six years, without the possibility of parole until November 2022. Cardinal Pell’s lawyers plan a further appeal to the Australian High Court. That process is likely to take up to a year. During the interim, the cardinal will remain in a Melbourne prison.

Because the trials were conducted in closed sessions and under a press “gag” order, accounts of the evidence against the cardinal have been incomplete and even sketchy. Until now. It was long widely known that the case involved allegations of assaults on two choirboys, both aged 13 when the crimes supposedly occurred in late 1996. The setting was said to be just after then-Archbishop Pell celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

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