01 August 2016, The Tablet

I will hold judgment on Cardinal Pell until police give verdict, Pope tells journalists

'There is doubt' but Francis says it would be wrong to come out in favour or against at this stage

The Pope is waiting for the Australian justice system to take its course before speaking in the case of Cardinal George Pell, who is being investigated over child sex abuse. Suggesting there were doubts over the allegations against the cardinal, who runs the Vatican finances, the Pope urged the media not to make a premature judgment in the case. 

“There is doubt and there is that clear principle of law: ‘in dubio, pro reo’ ,” quoting the Latin phrase which means that a defendant should not be convicted if their are doubts over the accusations. The Pope was speaking to journalists on board a plane flying from Krakow to Rome following a visit to Poland for the World Youth Day gathering. 

“If I were to make a judgment in favour or against Cardinal Pell that would not be good because I would be making a judgment first,” according to a transcript from the National Catholic Reporter“We must wait for the justice system and not make a premature judgment, [or] a judgment in the media, because this does not help.” 

He added: “Stay attentive to what the justice system decides," he continued. "Once the justice system speaks, I will speak.”

Victoria state Police Commissioner Graham Ashton told Melbourne radio last Thursday that police had been investigating allegations against the 75-year-old Australian prelate for more than a year - he was speaking following the reporting of the allegations by ABC AustraliaCardinal Pell has vigorously denied the accusations calling for an investigation into police conduct over the matter. 

Elsewhere during the press conference the Pope insisted that Islam should not be equated with terrorism. “I do not like to speak of Islamic violence because everyday when I look through the papers, I see violence here in Italy," Francis said. "And they are baptised Catholics. There are violent Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, I also have to speak of Catholic violence.

"One thing is true. I believe that in almost all religions, there is always a small fundamentalist group. We have them, too," the pope said. "When fundamentalism goes to the point of killing - you can even kill with the tongue. This is what St James says, but (you can kill) also with a knife. " On his flight from Rome to Krakow the Pope said the world was “at war” but stressed it was not a conflict about religion. 

Pope Francis also cleared up questions about his health after he stumbled and fell during Mass outside the Marian shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa earlier in the week. He told reporters that he missed a step as he was blessing the altar and an image of Mary with incense.

"I was looking at the Madonna and I forgot about the step," he recalled. "I had the thurible in my hand and I just let myself fall. If I had tried to resist, then there would have been consequences."

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