The Holy See and Cardinal Pell

Pope Francis signs a cricket bat of a Canterbury cricket team received from Australian George Cardinal Pell at the Vatican Oct. 29, 2015   By George Weigel

CNS Photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters

“Cardinal George Pell’s December 2018 conviction on charges of “historical abuse” was a travesty of justice, thanks in part to a public atmosphere of hysterical anti Catholicism.  It was a fetid climate that had a devastating impact on the possibility of his receiving a fair trial.”

(Here is a sample of the type of anti catholic journalism which preceeded the trial of Cardinal Pell in the halls of ‘Australian Justice’ … before we go on …  ma)

In an article by David Marr in ‘The Guardian’ of Australia we read first the Blaring Title:

 ‘Brutal and Dogmatic, George Pell Waged War on Sex – Even As He Abused Children’ 

Then we read on the rest of the account by David Marr:

“He was always there with a crisp, dogmatic grab.  Universal innocence?  “A dangerous myth”  Original sin? “Alive and flourishing”  Drugtaking?  “Wrong and sinful”  IVF for single mothers?  “We are on the verge of creating a whole new generation of stolen children.”  That one created a most satisfying uproar.

He accused his own Church of being “frightened to put forward the hard teachings of Christ” 

As an Archbishop in Melbourne and a Cardinal in Sydney, Pell poured his energies into COMBATTING contraception, homosexuality, genetic engineering, divorce, equal marriage and abortion.  

When a wreath was laid outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in memory of gay students in Catholic schools driven to suicide, Pell’s disdain was absolute. ” I haven’t got good statistics on the reasons for those suicides, but, if they are connected with homosexuality, it is another good reason to be discouraging people from going in that direction.  Homosexual activity is a much greater health hazard than smoking..”

George Weigel article continues:

Cardinal Pell knew from hard personal experience how virulent the anti-Catholic atmosphere in Australia had become.  As a member of the College of Cardinals and a senior Vatican official, Pell enjoyed Vatican citizenship and held a Vatican diplomatic passport;  he could have stayed put, untouched by Australian authorities.  Yet he freely decided to submit himself to his country’s criminal justice system.  He knew he was innocent, he was determined to defend his honor and that of the Church;  and he believed in the rectitude of the Australian courts.

So he went home.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Australian justice system has thus far failed one of Australia’s most distinguished sons, who had put his trust in it.  The police went on a tawdry fishing expedition for something-on-Pell, “Who, one wonders set that in motion? And why?)

A preliminary hearing sent the subsequent charges to trial, although the hearing magistrate said that, were she a juror, she wouldn’t vote for conviction on several of the alleged crimes.  The first trial proved the Cardinal innocent, and the re-trial returned an irrational verdict unsupported by any evidence, corroborating or otherwise.  The media gag order placed on both trials, although likely intended to dampen the circus atmosphere surrounding the case, in fact relieved the prosecution of having to defend its weird and salacious charges in public.

So, as of early March, the Cardinal is in jail and he is in Solitary Solitary Confinement.

  1. He is Not permitted to say Mass in his cell … on the bizarre grounds that prisoners are not allowed to lead religious services in prisons in the State of Victoria
  2. Wine is not permitted in cells.

Given all this, it is not easy to understand why, the day after the conviction it was announced publicly, by the interim Vatican press spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, a mantra which has become habitual in Vatican commentary on the Pell case:  the Holy See has maximun respect for the Australian judicial authorities.”

Why would the Holy See say this?

It is precisely the Australian judiciary (and the lynch-mob atmospherics in Melbourne and elsewhere) that is on trial today in the global court of public opinion.  There was no need for such gratuitous puffery.  Mr. Gisotti could have, and should have,  said that the Holy See awaits with interest and concern the results of the appeal process, and hopes that justice will be done. Period. Full stop.  Not flattery.

Above all, no hint of a suggestion that the Holy See believes that the Australian police and judicial authorities have done their job fairly, impartially, and respectably thus far.

Shortly after Mr. Gisotti’s comment it was announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was beginning its own canonical inquiry into the Pell case.  In theory , and one hopes, in practice, the CDF investigation can be helpful:  properly conducted, it will exonerate Cardinal Pell of the preposterous charges on which he was convicted, because there is zero evidence that the Cardinal abused two choirboys and ample evidence that the abuse could not have occurred in the circumstances in which it allegedly happened.  So justice can be done by the Holy See, whatever the ultimate outcome in Australia.

For the sake of an old friend, but also for the sake of Australia’s reputation in the world, I hope that the appeal process, which begins in early June, will vindicate Cardinal Pell – and the faith he has put in his countrymen and the Australian Judicial System.

The latter is and should be under the closest scrutiny by fair minded people.

The Holy See should take not …  and … therefore … should …  resist any further temptations …  to render a gauzy, and certainly premature, verdict on “the Australian Judicial Authorities”

Emphasis and Bold print: Haurietis Aquas