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

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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.


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.”

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