29 August 2019, The Tablet

Have faith in justice


The allegations of the sexual abuse of two choirboys against Cardinal George Pell were “vile and disgusting”, to use his own words. But that does not mean he certainly did not commit them. A jury of 12 ordinary Australian citizens, and two out of three learned appeal court judges, were persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that he did. He may have one more chance to appeal, but only on a point of law – and so far none has been successfully raised on his behalf.

But the Vatican has not yet moved to expel him from the ordained ministry, as normally happens when a member of the clergy is convicted of such a serious crime and sent to prison. He is still a cardinal. Instead the plan apparently is to try him under canon law in the Vatican. This raises the question: why is the Catholic establishment so reluctant to accept what has convinced a jury and the highest court in the Australian State of Victoria, after a trial and appeal that scrupulously observed due process? Why, for instance, did Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne speculate that it might have been a case of mistaken identity, when no evidence of that has ever been offered on Pell’s behalf, even by his defence team.

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