Catholic World News

Cardinal Pell’s conviction upheld; Vatican, Australian bishops react

August 21, 2019

In a 2-1 ruling, an Australian appeals court has upheld the conviction of Cardinal George Pell on charges of sexually abusing two choir boys in the Melbourne cathedral in 1996.

In March, the prelate was sentenced to six years in prison.

“Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today,” said his spokesperson, Katrina Lee, in a statement sent to CWN. “However, his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court. While noting the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence.”

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, issued the following statement:

While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on 26 February after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal.

As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.

At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that “the Catholic bishops of Australia believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today’s judgement accordingly.”

“The bishops realize that this has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them,” he continued. “We acknowledge the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through the long process of the trials and appeal of Cardinal Pell. We also acknowledge that this judgement will be distressing to many people.”

Archbishop Coleridge added, “We remain committed to doing everything we can to bring healing to those who have suffered greatly and to ensuring that Catholic settings are the safest possible places for all people, but especially for children and vulnerable adults.”

Cardinal Pell, 78, was ordained to the priesthood in 1966 and appointed auxiliary bishop of Melbourne in 1987. He subsequently was named Archbishop of Melbourne (1996-2001), Archbishop of Sydney (2001-14), and Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (February 2014-February 2019).

 


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: DW1506 - Aug. 21, 2019 9:21 PM ET USA

    My reading of the evidence does not support the two judges conclusions.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Aug. 21, 2019 7:55 PM ET USA

    Is that all the Australian Bishops could say? There are serious evidentiary problems with this whole trial noted by the dissent. Yes there must be sensitivity to real cases of abuse but the climate now is that all clerics because they are clerics are guilty until proven innocent in the face of accusation not to mention the virulent anti-Christian, anti Catholic atmosphere in Australia. This conviction and court affirmation is a travesty of justice.