Cardinal Pell publishes his prison diaries

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.”

Written by Sharon Moohan, Partner at BLM

What do the Royal Commission findings against Cardinal Pell mean for the Catholic Church in Australia

The position of the Catholic Church in Australia which is facing hundreds of civil claims by survivors of clerical sex abuse will have been dealt a further blow following the recently published findings of the Royal Commission relating to Cardinal Pell.

The Royal Commission found that Cardinal Pell knew by 1982 of complaints against Gerard Ridsdale and perhaps as early as 1977 and was aware of the church’s practice of shifting Ridsdale to different parishes.

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Australian High Court to deliver final appeal judgment in the Cardinal Pell appeal on 7 April 2020

On 12 March the High Court in Australia deferred ruling on an appeal to overturn the conviction of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for sexually assaulting two teenage choirboys in the 1990s for which he was sentenced to a six year jail term.

After two days of legal arguments, the High Court of Australia said it was still considering whether to allow the appeal.

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Cardinal Pell’s appeal fails as convictions for child sex abuse are upheld

The Victoria Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the appeal by Cardinal Pell against his convictions for sexual abuse against two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

Pell was sentenced to six years in prison in March 2019 on foot of these convictions. He has and continues to maintain his innocence.

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Cardinal Pell appeals convictions

On 5 June 2019 at the Victoria State Court of Appeal, Cardinal Pell’s legal team launched an application for leave to appeal his conviction on one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16 in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. The Court is also hearing the appeal against the conviction at the same time.

Cardinal Pell was sentenced to six years in prison, which he is currently serving in a Melbourne prison and it is reported that he is being held in special protective custody because due to the nature of his convictions he is regarded as being at higher risk of harm from other prisoners.

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