The Catholic World Report
May 25, 2020
By George Weigel
An attempt at explaining the unhinged hatred displayed by Cardinal George Pell’s enemies
Those who imagined that the sliming of Cardinal George Pell would stop as of April 7, when a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia acquitted him of “historical sexual abuse,” did not reckon with the climate of venomous hatred that has surrounded Pell for decades, fouling Australia’s public life, legal system, and politics in the process.
That climate certainly was a factor in the Victoria police department trolling for accusations against George Pell (most of which were dismissed before trial; others were finally quashed by the High Court decision). That climate surely tainted the trial that led to the cardinal’s conviction in December 2018, despite a jury having been shown that it was literally impossible for him to have done what he was alleged to have done, where he was alleged to have done it, and in the time-frame proposed by the prosecution. That climate likely influenced the otherwise incomprehensible decision of two justices of the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria when, in August 2019, they upheld the jury verdict in spite of a devastating dissent by the one justice on the appellate panel with substantial criminal law experience. That climate shaped the commentary of the gobsmacked anti-Pell Australian media in the immediate aftermath of the High Court’s acquittal; no one in that baying mob of Pell-haters had the honesty or grace to admit that the case against Pell had been irrational from the start, or that the High Court had saved Australian justice from becoming an international laughingstock (and worse).
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