BY Ryan McDougall | April 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

xcardinal pell appeal

Australian High Court quashes Cardinal Pell’s abuse convictions

Cardinal George Pell has been released from prison after Australia’s highest court overturned his conviction for sexually abusing children.

The cardinal, aged 78, was the most senior Catholic figure found guilty for crimes of such a nature, as he was found guilty in 2018 of abusing two boys in the 1990s.

However, the High Court of Australia quashed the verdict today, meaning his release from prison will be effective immediately. He is understood to have been transported to a Carmelite monastery in Melbourne.

The cardinal had been sentenced to six years in prison, of which he served over 400 days.

Denial of charges

He has denied the charges since he was first arrested back in June 2017.

All seven judges ruled unanimously in the cardinal’s favour, finding the jury had not properly considered the evidence presented at the trial.

He cannot be retried under the same charges again.

It was his final chance to clear his name, as a lower court had upheld his conviction last year.

‘Serious injustice’

In a statement released after the decision, the cardinal said: “I have constantly maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice.”

He added that he had been ‘remedied’ and ‘held no ill will’ to his accuser.

“I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough. However, my trial was not a referendum the Catholic Church—nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church.”

Before Cardinal Pell was convicted, the court heart a testimony from a man alleged to be one of his victims, who said he had been sexually abused by Pell when he was 13-years-old in St Patrick’s Cathedral, while the cardinal was Archbishop of Melbourne.

Evidence

The other alleged victim died in 2018, following a battle with a long illness.

Cardinal Pell’s lawyers didn’t seek to argue with or discredit the man’s testimony, but argued the jury had not properly considered the evidence.

The High Court agreed, and ruled that other testimonies had introduced ‘a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place.’

In its summary statement, the court said: “The jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.”

Archbishop Tartaglia

The news that his conviction has been overturned has been welcomed by the Church worldwide.

In Scotland, Archbishop Tartaglia of Glasgow said: “I thank God the Australian High Court has overturned Cardinal Pell’s conviction, Cardinal Pell has been a friend to the Catholic Church in Scotland and to the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, and I have the deepest respect for him.”

Leave a Reply

latest news

Scottish bishops reveal new Coronavirus working group chaired by lay Catholic

May 6th, 2020 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Bishop Gilbert said: "The bishops are keen to benefit from...


Scots College rector says BBC documentary’s success shows desire for more religious-themed shows

May 4th, 2020 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

The rector of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome said...


Funeral arrangements made for one of Glasgow Archdiocese’s ‘best-known’ priests

May 4th, 2020 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Funeral arrangements have been made for a Glasgow Archdiocese priest...


Dunkeld pays tribute to priest who served for nearly 65 years

May 4th, 2020 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld paid tribute to to a...




Social media

Latest edition

p1

exclusively in the paper

  • Unite in prayer against the virus, Paisley bishop pleads
  • Papal award recognises 60 years of Faithful service
  • Catholic high school leads trend with positive outcomes for pupils
  • New memorials celebrate Croy’s proud mining heritage
  • Top Catholic university rolls out programme in Scotland

Previous editions

Previous editions of the Scottish Catholic Observer newspaper are only available to subscribed Members. To download previous editions of the paper, please subscribe.

note: registered members only.

Read the SCO