Pell's Jail Diaries Detail "Petty Humiliations', Job As Roof Gardener

Brisbane Times
April 14, 2020

Cardinal George Pell has released excerpts from his prison diary, which discuss aspects of his life in jail including the attitudes of corrections staff, humiliations he endured and his brief job as a gardener.

The diaries, parts of which were published in The Australian newspaper on Tuesday, detail Cardinal Pell's thoughts and activities during more than 400 days in prison.

Cardinal George Pell arrives at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush last week.

The cardinal was last week acquitted of child sex offences and released from Barwon Prison near Geelong.

He wrote that prison staff were "courteous and decent" during his time at the Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne and at Barwon, but that he had to sometimes endure "petty humiliations" such as wearing handcuffs and being strip-searched.

The cardinal also took on a gardening job on the Melbourne Assessment Prison roof, but wrote that he "lost it in a demarcation dispute".

"Itís not the Hilton but itís well run," Cardinal Pell went on to write of prison. "I had a shower, a toilet and a bed with a firm base. What else does a man need?"

Cardinal Pell was in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day but accepted it was necessary to stay safe. "So I'm not complaining," he wrote of the isolation.

He said he was used to such confinement because as a seminarian he had to partake in "grand silence" from mid-evening until 9am the next morning.

In an interview with Sky News that will air on Tuesday evening the cardinal reacted to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' statement following his acquittal.

"I have a message for every single victim and survivor of child sex abuse: I see you. I hear you. I believe you," Mr Andrews said.

Cardinal Pell said the Premier's comments suggested a "presumption of guilt" for anyone accused of abuse.

"Victims should be accepted as credible," the cardinal said. "I believe them. But what has to be established is that they are victims. Guilt by accusation is a mark of an uncivilised society."

Cardinal Pell also said he was targeted for criticism regarding the response of the Catholic Church in Australia to child abuse because he was "the most high-profile face of the church in Australia".

The Australian reported that he still stands by the Melbourne Response to child sexual abuse in the church, a redress scheme he led, despite criticism of it.

Cardinal Pell has been staying at a seminary in Homebush, Sydney.

In the Sky News interview Cardinal Pell took aim at the ABC for the way it reported his conviction and subsequent appeals and acquittal.

Interviewer Andrew Bolt asked the cardinal if the ABC's perceived role in his "persecution" concerned him.

"Yes it does," Cardinal Pell responded.

"Because, I mean, it [the ABC] is partly financed by Catholic taxes," Cardinal Pell told Bolt.

"These things have to be tested respectfully. The pendulum 30 or 40 years ago was massively against anybody who said that they had been attacked.

"Nowadays, we donít want to just swing back so that every accusation is regarded as gospel truth. That would be quite unjust and inappropriate."

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.








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