On the 8 June 2021 on what was his 80th birthday, Cardinal George Pell, Prefect Emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, released his Prison Journal – Volume 1 in Italian.
The book records the entries that make up Cardinal Pell’s daily diary between 27 February and 13 July 2019, when he was in prison in Melbourne on charges of sexual abuse of minors, charges from which he was completely acquitted by a High Court ruling in April 2020.
Cardinal Pell was in solitary confinement for his personal protection, and had not seen or met the 11 other prisoners in his section until his last four months in prison.
Cardinal Pell, who was interviewed by the Vatican News on the day of his 80th Birthday said that “a combination of circumstances, lies, and deceit” had led to him being imprisoned, something he could never have imagined being part of his life experience.
He told the Vatican News he has forgiven his accusers and went on to say, “I must admit that sometimes it was difficult. But, once I made the decision to forgive, everything else followed. For me, it was not so difficult to forgive the person who accused me. I knew that he was a person who had suffered and was in great confusion and who knows what else.”
Cardinal Pell hopes that his diaries might be “… helpful for those who are in difficulty, for those who are going through a time of suffering, like I was“, stating that prison taught him the importance of perseverance, the importance of simple things, like one’s faith, forgiveness and the redemption of suffering.
Cardinal Pell accepted that the sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church was an opportunity for renewal, he said that the Roman Catholic Church cannot “…continue in the same vein. It is a kind of spiritual and moral cancer. It seems to me that here in Australia we have worked seriously to eradicate it, but it is a duty for all priests and all bishops in the world to ensure that these scandals do not happen again.”