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The improbable claims of Cardinal Pell’s accusers

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 03, 2017

We cannot guarantee that Cardinal George Pell is innocent of all wrongdoing. But we can say with confidence that at least to date, the charges that have been aired against him are extremely unconvincing.

Julia Yost makes that case persuasively for First Things in a devastating review of Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, a book that has become the main focus of anti-Pell sentiment in Australia. Yost demonstrates conclusively that the Milligan book is marred by blatant bias, an anti-Catholic animus, and sloppy, uneven treatment of the available facts. The review tears apart both old accusations (based on the testimony of an extremely shaky witness) and more recent changes (which involve an alleged sequence of events that seems preposterously unlikely if not literally impossible).

It is possible, Yost concedes, that new facts will emerge, and a more plausible case against Cardinal Pell will be made. But that case certainly hasn’t been made to date— despite a two-year media campaign against the controversial prelate. Julia Yost makes the point elegantly:

During his trial or after it, three years or three days from this writing, new facts may emerge that demonstrate to me and all the world that George Cardinal Pell of Australia is guilty as sin. On that day, I will regret this review, but I will not repent of it.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: geoffreysmith1 - Jul. 10, 2017 8:31 AM ET USA

    Cardinal Pell would be well-advised NOT to return to Australia. He would be walking into a stitch-up, a prolonged trial designed to subject him to an ordeal which will sap whatever remaining strength he may have and kill him, shutting his mouth forever. The verdict has already been decided by the Australian media, and the outcome of this 'trial' will be irrelevant, a pretence at seeking justice for the purpose of any PR requirements.