This week was a terrible one for faithful Catholics across the country, but particularly in Victoria and New South Wales.
Contrary to popular opinion and in opposition to apparent common sense, two out of three of the appellant judges ruled to not overturn Cardinal Pell’s guilty verdict.
This came as a shock and a blow, and I’ve just been feeling really flat for the past couple of days.
I know Cardinal Pell, I’ve known him since I was a child; I was present at his installation as Archbishop of Sydney, and lived there under his bishopric, during which time he oversaw a complete overhaul and flourishing of Catholic life in the city.
Aside from the fact that I have no doubt of his innocence, all the evidence was in his favour – the only thing against him was the uncorroborated and unsupported testimony of one man.
George Weigel put it succinctly in this piece in First Things:
…this astonishing, indeed incomprehensible, decision calls into the gravest doubt the quality of justice in Australia—and the possibility of any Catholic cleric charged with sexual abuse to receive a fair trial or a fair consideration of the probity of his trial.
In the live-streamed appellate court proceedings on the morning of August 21 (Melbourne time), Victoria Supreme Court chief justice Anne Ferguson, reading the decision, made persistent reference to “the whole of the evidence.” But there has never been any “evidence” that Cardinal Pell did what he was alleged to have done. There was only the word of the complainant, and there was absolutely no corroboration of his charges—which, in the months since the cardinal’s trials, have been shown to be alarmingly similar to a fake set of charges leveled against a priest in a story published years ago in Rolling Stone.
Judge Ferguson also referred to the “uncertain memory” of the “opportunity witnesses” who testified on the cardinal’s behalf, to the effect that the acts of sexual abuse alleged to have been committed simply could not have happened given the circumstances of a cathedral full of people, the brief time frame of the alleged acts, and the cardinal’s vesture. But what, one must ask, about the potentially “uncertain” memory of the complainant? Why is it simply assumed, on the basis of his videotaped testimony, that the complainant has a clear memory of what he alleged to have happened—especially when the entire scenario of the alleged abuse is implausible in the extreme?
In justifying her judgment and that of the colleague … she and Judge Chris Maxwell—took a “different view of the facts” than dissenting Judge Mark Weinberg. But what facts? Does the simple assertion of an alleged act of sexual abuse, no matter how implausible as to the nature of the act or the circumstances in which it was alleged to have been committed, constitute a legal “fact” capable of destroying the life and reputation of one of Australia’s most distinguished citizens? If so, then there is something seriously wrong with criminal law in the state of Victoria, where legal process now bears a parlous resemblance to what prevailed in the Soviet Union under Stalin. There, too, charges were deemed plausible solely on uncorroborated assertion.
The cardinal’s appeal failed to convince Judges Ferguson and Maxwell that the convicting jury must have had doubts about the plausibility of the charges against Pell, given the devastating case the defense raised against the prosecution at both of the cardinal’s trials. But why is this the appropriate or relevant standard? A deadlocked jury at the first trial voted overwhelmingly to acquit the cardinal of the charges; then the retrial swung almost 180 degrees and returned a unanimous verdict of guilty, after presumably considering the same evidence on which the majority of their predecessors voted to acquit. Doesn’t that suggest the possibility of deep jury bias—especially given the lack of defense challenges to jurors in the state of Victoria? And doesn’t that call into question the probity of the guilty verdict?
Two and a half months ago, at Cardinal Pell’s appeal hearing, Judges Ferguson, Maxwell, and Weinberg aggressively queried the Crown representative defending the guilty verdict, whose performance, by any objective standard, was exceptionally weak. By contrast, the appellate panel gave every indication during the appeal hearing of taking seriously the defense’s insistence that the guilty verdict against Cardinal Pell was “unsafe,” in that it could not have been reasonably arrived at on the evidence at hand (or, in this case, the lack thereof). What happened in the ensuing two months? That will certainly be worth exploring in the weeks ahead.
Since the Pell conviction, friends well connected in Australian legal circles have said that the serious legal community in Australia, as distinguished from ideologues, was becoming deeply concerned about the reputation of Australian justice; thus, it was said, many of those senior legal figures were hoping that the cardinal’s appeal would succeed. Their concerns should now be intensified by orders of magnitude. For on the evidence of this shabby case and this appalling and thoroughly unpersuasive appellate decision, reasonable people will wonder just what “rule of law” means in Australia, and especially in the state of Victoria. Reasonable people will wonder whether it’s safe to travel, or do business, in a social and political climate in which mob hysteria similar to that which sent Alfred Dreyfus to Devil’s Island can manifestly affect juries.
Cardinal Pell has said to friends in recent months that he knows he is innocent and that “the only judgment I fear is the last one.” The judges who concurred in a grotesque appellate decision confirming the result of a grotesque legal farce may or may not believe in a final judgment. But they certainly have other judgments to worry about. For they have confirmed that a once-admirable part of the Anglosphere known for independent thinking has become something quite ignoble, even sinister.
One line that I want to highlight is this:
Does the simple assertion of an alleged act of sexual abuse, no matter how implausible as to the nature of the act or the circumstances in which it was alleged to have been committed, constitute a legal “fact” capable of destroying the life and reputation of one of Australia’s most distinguished citizens?
I think this is key, for what does this mean for the future of the Church – for our priests and other religious leaders? Setting this kind of precedent seems, to me, not only wrong but dangerous, not to mention scary.
So what happens next? According to most news sources, the cardinal’s legal team will now pursue an appeal before the High Court. This will be Pell’s last chance to have his conviction overturned, and I pray that it will be, that justice be served.
It has been a dark couple of weeks for Australia, with the legalisation of abortion on demand until birth looming over the heads of everyone in NSW at the moment as it’s debated in parliament.
I’m pleased to say that the people here have been fighting back hard on this one, with an estimated 10,000 people turning up to a pro-life rally in Sydney on Tuesday night to protest the bill.
It was an amazing night, with an electric atmosphere that affected everyone present. I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of such a huge, united cohort. It was definitely the bright spot of hope in an otherwise dark period.
Update: I received this email from a reader:
(The Pell case) reminded me of a similar case made against the Anglican bishop, George Bell, whose reputation had previously been impeccable (he worked with the likes of Deitrich Bonhoeffer in fighting the Nazi regime, and always insisted on humble acts such as travelling in third class train carriages at a time when it would have been unthinkable to most people that an RC or CofE prelate would locomote thus); the basis of his generally accepted retraction, as with Cardinal Pell, was one unfounded and improbable allegation made many years in the past. It is interesting that both churches have tended, in recent decades, to defame those whose have been effective, faithful and traditional in their lives and episcopacies. Within your own church, it seems to be the lavender mafia, clown ‘Mass’, pro homosexual ‘marriage’ types etc who have most egregiously debauched and deprived themselves, and yet the onus of blame-ful ire tends towards the traditionalist victims of false and unverified allegations.
17 thoughts on “The Cardinal Pell Conclusion..?”
Cheer up Anna – its a sign the Prince of this world is rolling his last dice, trying everything to destroy the Church and win a battle he has already lost to our Lord 2000 years ago (well, before time began really).
Easy for me to say of course, I am not lingering in jail like ++Pell. I hope his appeal succeeds, but brace yourself that it may not. Already lawyers have said the High Court will only hear the case if there are unique features to the case – not sure if rabid ineptitude in prior hearings constitutes such exceptionality. 😉
But the good news is, such absurd findings are apparent to most people globally, so there is good chance public outcry will secure ++Pell’s acquittal eventually. The other positive is it exposes the rampant anti-Catholic bigotry. Folks like Louise Milligan chortling over ++Pell’s fall reveal themselves as partisan hacks. If Cardinal Pell’s case were less clear cut, it would be less evident that it is enmity for God’s church that drives such people.
Incidentally, the Weigel article and others mention some irritating points that keep being made, to the detriment of ++Pell I feel:
– people keep saying priestly vestments are ‘impossible’ to move so abuse could have occurred. The judges checked and moved the vestments easily. Pell’s lawyers insisting this was impossible undermines the credibility of all their claims when the vestments clearly could be moved.
– Weigel refers to “…destroying the life and reputation of one of Australia’s most distinguished citizens” – it should make no difference who the accused (or accuser is) to the facts of the case. Mentioning ++Pell’s status conveys a sense of entitlement that harms his case. It conveys a sense of ‘a priest, especially a cardinal, couldn’t abuse a child’ mentality. Yet we now know both priests and even cardinals can and have abused kids and adults. So we shouldn’t act like we or our cardinals are above such accusations – it makes us look out of touch with peoples concerns for their children’s safety.
I hope his legal team just concentrate on the fact that the prosecutors never came close to *proving* that any abuse occured. And I pray ++Pell will continue to endure this crown of thorns for God’s sake, as he has done so far.
N.B. It does raise the question – if we catholics don’t want accusations levelled at good bishops & priests, how can we speed up the clean out of the actual abuser priests & bishops? The McCarricks? The laity need more involvement, to speed and hold to account the Vatican and diocesan officials and bishops. Not just bishop-picked rubber stampers either – St Peter had all laity vote to elect good administrators to work with bishops (Acts 6:1-6).
Some commenter on Rod Dreher’s blog wrote that Pell is a scapegoat for the cover-ups. I suppose that’s possible.
Is it possible that Pell is innocent in this current case but not in others? Broken Rites reports that in 2002 Pell was accused of abusing an altar boy in 1961-62: http://www.brokenrites.org.au/drupal/
I’ve followed the abuse scandals for years. and, with time, have come to understand that there is a long tradition (or cancer?) of homosexuality and homosexual pederasty in the Church.
I think it’s so difficult for people to accept that someone they respect and admire, and with whom they have had only positive dealings is also capable of these types of actions. I did not warn my children about a favourite uncle of mine, whom I had heard was a paedophile, because I really loved him, and he was the most amazing, funny, witty and warm guy. Thank God nothing happened to them, because I always supervised them when he was present, (which was infrequent), but I was so torn by competing loyalties, it was really confusing. My uncle had been raised in a Catholic family of 12 children, very poor, and he and several of his brothers had boarded at a Christian Brothers college during their teens. Children were poorly supervised in the 30’s and 40’s, and respect for the clergy was profound. As we have since learned, this created a risky environment for many children. I too had my doubts initially about George Pell’s guilt in this case, but I feel as though I have an understanding of how Pell could have simultaneously have been responsible for these acts, and also been capable of not being able to admit this to himself or others. The reported incident on the Broken Rites link, and the incident reported in the link below have the ring of truth to me. It’s very sad all round.
I’ve talked with Fr Bob Hoatson a few times. He was a member of the Christian Brothers. Talk about a strange outfit.
I don’t know much about Pell. God only knows what he was taught or how he was “formed” in the minor/major seminary. Sometimes it’s hard to blame some of these guys for being so weird, considering the stuff to which they were exposed in the seminary. You have to wonder whether Pell himself was abused by a priest.
I’m pretty certain he wasn’t. Cardinal Pell completely revolutionised and revitalised the Sydney Archdiocese, including doing much practical work against child sexual abuse in the church. He made himself very unpopular with the secular media as a result
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+Wilson of Adelaide was certainly a scapegoat for the abuse coverups ex-Sean1868, as he was conmvicted then acquited on appeal for coverup and had no political profile (ie no other reason for public or any vested interest to nobble him).
By contrast, ++Pell had 3rd parties with strong interest in getting him sidelined – general public hostility for him as public front man for Oz bishops during sex abuse hearings, and the alleged Vatican curia mafia who wanted Pell to stop finding their hidden stashes of cash.
As for other allegations – some have already been dismissed by the courts (the alleged groping of kids in a public pool in front of crowds of people), while others appear to be unaddressed (alleged exposure to boys in a lifesaving club change rooms). Key point here is to recall we are all innocent until *proven* guilty beyong reasonable doubt, and ++Pell has not been convicted of anything other than this Cathedral case, based on 1 man’s accusations only.
That said, you are correct, there have been many abusers in the church over the years, both straight and gay, but mostly gay I understand. That has always been against church teaching, and Jesus explicitly condemned people who harm children. We don’t burn state schools down when a tewacher is convicted of abusing kids – the schools may even be a good one; we just can’t always prevent abusers getting at kids.
We have to live in hoipe that God sees all, and will judge and reward accordingly.
The more I think about this the less I am surprised by it. If in a society, reason is rejected in favour of subjective emotivism and “activism” then inevitably the law will crumble too.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I think it was that dolt Karl Marx that said”don’t try to understand society just change it”. To my mind when paraphrased this means do away with reason and you destroy the structure of society and Man’s integrity. Now it all makes sense, when Lenin called the academics and fellow travellers in the West “useful idiots”. I think I need to be re-educated as my capacity to reason is completely floored because Lenin insults his loyal subjects in the West and they still remain loyal- this must mean that reason and integrity must be jettisoned at any price and power is the only game in town-oops,I don’t think I need a lobotomy or freedom🇺🇸 .
Pell is innocent.
His conviction is deeply troubling for many reasons.
He’ll be Australia’s next saint.
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There are liberal, conservative and traditionalist lavender mafias. It’s 50 shades of gay.
Some of the less-informed traditionalists think that only the liberals have a problem with lavender mafias. The fiasco of Carlos Urrutigoity proves that idea wrong.
Hi Anna, this is slightly off track in regards to the main topic in this post.However You did make mention of the Abortion rally held here in Sydney -so it is in that light that the following info maybe of interest and help. I’m taking a liberty here but I presume Monica Doumit would find this of interest as it really does get to the nub of Abortion- which really is a moral cry to our warped sense of hospitality and especially to our eroded capacity in this modern age to feel and identify purpose of life as an integral part of emotion and our collective capacity to be humane——humanity. If you go to Quadrant.org.au there are two articles-scroll down to news and opinion- then click on page 4- Mark Powells,WHY MEN SHOULD HAVE A SAY ON ABORTION. The second article is by Paul Collits- KILLING THE UNBORN TRANS TASMAN STYLE- the comments section in both these articles is well worth the read, however I will draw your attention to a comment by an athiest bloke by the name of En Passant ( maybe his 2nd comment)- furthermore you will find two links here and a further video once you have navigated to this site. In getting to the point,you will find two videos from grown women that have survived abortion, Melissa Ohden and Gianna Jessen (4M views) the third vid ,also heart rending is delivered by a republican member of congress FRANKES,this guys weeps from start to finish. In this strange day and age it’s deemed offensive to show people the actual abortion process which really is not necessary, as the thing we have to reconnect with is our sense of love and capacity for emotion -I have now doubt that this is where eventually the battle will be won because it is where it was lost. Otherwise https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4553408/Melissa-Ohden.https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4550285/ rep-franks-delivers-opening-statement-planned parenthood-hearing.
What we do know about the state of Victoria ,In reference to the political, judicial and the DPP and police, is there was very little will to prosecute two senior left wing politicians -specifically sexual assault allegations in one case and blatant corruption in the other- here there were witnesses and hard evidence. Furthermore the lawyer X case illustrates (although well intended) blatant corruption of truth and the integrity in the fore mentioned institutions. Furthermore I would like to know the reasons for the removal / resignation of two police commissioners in the preceding decade.
What do we know about George pell – his not left wing or progressive and he abhors both abortion and euthanasia.
In Quadrant online Kieth Windshuttle has written an article – THE CONTRADICTIONS OF A CHOIRBOY(p,4) Here the character of the claimant is brought into question. The article states that the reason for not bringing allegations against Pell earlier is because the claimant did not want to jeopardise his scholarship standing to ,put it succinctly. Keith’s proposition is that if this is the case ,why would they put that proposition at risk by breaking into the sacristy and illegally consume alcohol- the conclusion being that this indicates questionable integrity and character.
The Question of the six minute window in which this assault is all said to have occurred- this makes Errol Flynn and Casanova look like inexperienced amateurs. It is also worth keeping in mind that Pell deliberately kept an arms length association with the choir. And a member of that Choir was a high court judges son – how would the Cardinal discern this. Furthermore the refractory period for a 15 yo maybe 15-30 mins whereas for a 55yo man would be conservatively hours to days. Could the six minute window have been propagated to serve other interests ie probability or plausibility.
Again in Quadrant online Paul Collits’ article-THE NETWORKING THAT SNARED GEORGE PELL(p,4) this is basically a brief and concise summary of incidental converging factors that fuelled the prosecution case. This work is based on the thorough and exhaustive investigative probing and analysis of Theological Academic Chris Friel from the UK. Chris S Friel has approximately 33 seperate research papers related to this matter of which 23 deal with factors leading to prosecution and 10 articles that deal with analysis of the appeals case as well. When or if accessing these ,be mindful to follow and take note of endnote reference reading ,and pay particular attention to Twitter feed transcripts ( then you will be privy to what is going on at face value).This guy (Simon Cyrene in the modern sense)has left no stone unturned(chrisfriel.academia.edu)- after reading (23) you are left in no doubt that there is a case for reasonable doubt and on that basis there is an illogical element driving this.
Be mindful of the following- when Justice Kidd delivered the sentencing brief (video)unless I’m mistaken he seemed to err in a couple places and did pay marked and due respect to the Cardinal during these deliberations( there’s a problem with this). Secondly at the appeals court Brett Walker was very adamant about what he thought the Justices should look at- in particular he did have a bone of contention with Justice Maxwell-basically as I see it ,he Walker was giving instruction on how the law should be served – was this in recognition of this process being a recognisable stumbling block enroute to the the High Court.There was no problem with Justice Weinberg ( very experienced in criminal law) it seemed to boil down to the leanings or other wise of the other Justices (neither to my knowledge being involved in criminal law)[a disconnect to the reality?]The differential here is that Wienberg looked at all the hard evidence in its entirety,whereas Ferguson and Maxwells judgement was reliant on emotion and narrative(THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOCIAL JUSTICE TO ME)it is interesting that Pell’s prosecution is reliant on both claimants , of which,one is deceased and couldn’t give evidence and denied whilst alive of ever being assaulted. Lastly and to my mind very telling is the prosecutions inability through the entirety of the appeal deliberations to deliver one coherent sentence- there seemed to be an awful lot of stumbling. If you get hold of the audio your left with no doubt, that the whole sentence is indeed very troubling at the level of prosecution.
HappyChappy, great summary.
I don’t remember ever before questioning the truth of a news report about sexual abuse by a priest.
I think the accusations against Pell are nothing but lies..
There has been an avalence of negative comment and articles about Pell by journalists, politicians, and lawyers. I think all these too are lies.
The accuser is a liar. Probably he he has been given intensive psychological coaching to believe his own lies.
Richard Mullins firstname.lastname@example.org
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That’s the unremarkable thing about the truth , it , always being straight to the point- the greater the propensity to offend , to my mind anyway – the greater / better the truth. The father of all lies ,absolutely condemns the truth with unparalleled hatred.
PS Christ didn’t mince his words when it came to the temple- TRUTH- Like your style Richard.
(I pasted this as a comment to an anti-Pell rant by a writer on Sacred Heart University web site).
I am no supporter of the clergy. I don’t like clerical dress.
If you said that the priest in the Thorn Birds movie must have been gay, I would agree with you.
(He knocked back a romantic offer from Barbara Stanwyck).
Pell is a buffoon in the Australian press, He comes out with weird comments such as “RU-486 is the first human insecticide”.
Ironically, his Oxford doctorate was on authority in the early church 130AD to 230 AD. I have only read the first 6 pages. I was astounded to read that Pell mentions the names of early Church fathers who did not believe in ordination. To me this is dynamite information – it sends a strong signal that the church is a man made fabrication. Nietzsche could not have said anything more controversial than this. Why weren’t we told (that ordination was an invention)? Has anyone before ever said it as clearly as in Pell’s thesis?
David Gibson, Your article is dogs droppings. In Australia, there are any number of scumbag journalists, lawyers, and politicians, giving views similar to yours on Pell.
I’m not sure how you can extrapolate from the case of McCarrick to Pell. Are you saying that if someone you have never met makes an accusation of sexual abuse against you, it should be judged “credible”. Maybe there was some evidence that McCarrick had at least met the altar boy. There was no evidence that Pell had ever met the choir boy.
Pell has been stitched up. The witness is a liar, or he has received psychological coaching to believe his own lies. The accuser is an understudy for Billy Doe. As a 24 year old heroin addict in 2011, Billy Doe gave false evidence in Philadelphia that he had been sexually abused as a 10 year old altar boy. Milligan’s book on Pell uses “The Kid” as a name for the accuser. This suggests that she may have heard the Billy Doe story. Chris S Friel has even studied tweet history on this matter.
Richard Mullins email@example.com
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The funny thing Richard, is the irony that attaches itself to the David Gibson’s of this world. Some human being’s are just another animal- base instinct, mob mentality ect- ‘but make no mistake’- they lack no shortage of confidence in their own lack of abilities-(-VANITY-).
I think you summed up the ineptitude too, to a T , in the paragraph pertaining to the Cardinals doctoral thesis”Why weren’t we told (that ordination was invention)? Has anyone before ever said it as clearly as in Pell’s thesis”?
As you alluded to ,this thesis , of which I have read in large part , and it actually tells us a lot about the actual character of the Man. The basic fact being that he is not only scrupulously honest, he is fearlessly forthright , and is not afraid to speak his mind / truth – bluntly, to that end the Cardinals character hasn’t changed one iota over the ensuing years. By that I mean he hasn’t wavered off track- this bloke is straight down the line- he must have a worthwhile goal in mind- the truth leads to – God.
Which brings me to a funny recollection. My father always had a jar of peanuts at the ready on the kitchen bench at home. Generally speaking he would generally treat himself to a coldly of Coopers ale and a handful of peanuts after a day’s work. ( this puzzled me) The thing is, whenever he went to the nut jar, he would generally spend a few minutes flicking through the various nuts till he found one he fancied – to me all peanuts look the same, whether they be Cashews, beer nuts or the plain old peanuts- the exception to the rule being mixed nuts obviously, but hey at the end of the day they’re all nuts right- the moral of the story and the thing to keep in mind, is that in the main, people are like peanuts, in that it’s very hard and rare to find a good one (nut).
I’d now like to finish on this note. In this world ,none of us should ever feel we are privy to things in their totality -at face value. “Pell is a buffoon in the Australian press, He comes out with weird comments, such as “RU- 486 is the first human insecticide”.
An insect is basically a life form with a segmented body, head, thorax , abdomen and numerous sets of legs ?….. I guess we dispose of young babies in utero with all the feeling and emotional energy we expend in dispatching flies with a can of Mortein.
The irony of course…..” A pesticide is a bug killing poison”; the Latin suffix ‘cide’ means “killer”, and in pesticide it is combined with the English word pest- which means just what it sounds like, a troublesome annoyance”.Which is what we should presume aborted children’s lives are. “Pesticides are a class of chemicals designed to kill pests. “Furthermore deaths from pesticides ( chemical/ pharmacological medicines/ drugs- chemical compounds) are a major contributor to the global burden of suicide and pre – mature mortality”.In the end insecticides come under the umbrella ,of pesticides.
As an aside- using introspection as an analysis of what we see at face value – my take- RU-486, when extrapolated mathematically – the sum of 4,8,6,is 18- the divisor being 3 and you end up with RU- 666…( a, question). Truthful Judgement awaits everyone of us – the good news – it doesn’t discriminate.
ABORTION IS A DERIVATIVE OF A SECULAR SOCIETY – AS CARDINAL PELL ALLUDED TO——————
Abortions performed in a secular society[specifically the abortifacients(POISONs) that also include RU- 486] , there use, could quite rightly and justifiably be called ,IN-SEC-TICIDE………………..