Pell's conviction is quashed

By Anne Barrett Doyle
April 7, 2020

The High Court's decision to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell was widely expected. Though distressing to many survivors, the decision doesn't change the fact that the trial of the powerful cardinal was a watershed. Of the 78 Catholic bishops worldwide who have been publicly accused of child sexual abuse, very few have faced criminal charges, and fewer than ten have been tried in a secular courtroom. Yet that is where all of these cases belong. While messy and painful, a judicial process in a democratic society is immeasurably better than that of a Vatican tribunal, which keeps its proceedings secret, releases no transcripts, publishes no arguments by the two sides, and skews the outcome toward preserving the priesthood rather than serving justice

See our global list of accused bishops.

In its quest to stop the sexual abuse of children, the Australian government has put the Catholic church on equal footing with other institutions, and treated the church's leaders as fellow citizens. Credit for this goes to its astonishingly open and thorough inquiry, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

Pell may be back in an Australian courtroom soon: he reportedly is named in several lawsuits. In the meantime, Pope Francis should delay no longer in launching his own investigation. In 2014, Francis chose Pell to manage his new Secretariat for the Economy, ignoring evidence that Pell had been merciless to victims and lax in his supervision of abusive clergy. That was before the Pope pledged to hold bishops accountable and end the culture of cover-up. The scope of his investigation should include Pell's handling of abusers, his treatment of victims, a review of the charges of which he was just acquitted, and the five other allegations of child sexual abuse that have been made against him.

See our summary of the allegations against Pell.

Contact information

Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director,, 781-439-5208 (WhatsApp and cell)
Terry McKiernan, Founder and President,, 508-479-9304 (WhatsApp and cell)


Founded in 2003 and based near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, is a large online archive of documents, reports, and news articles documenting the global abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. It maintains a database of more than 6,400 accused U.S. clergy, and has published accused clergy databases for Argentina, Chile and Ireland. An independent non-profit, it focuses on research and document-gathering. It is not affiliated with any church, reform, or victims' organization. 





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