Commentary

Cardinal Pell Is a Free Man

By Bill Donohue | April 7, 2020 | 3:19pm EDT
Pictured is Australian Cardinal George Pell, whose conviction was overturned Tuesday. (Photo credit: ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP via Getty Images)
Pictured is Australian Cardinal George Pell, whose conviction was overturned Tuesday. (Photo credit: ASANKA BRENDON RATNAYAKE/AFP via Getty Images)

Cardinal George Pell's conviction on five counts of sexual abuse has been unanimously overturned Tuesday by Australia's High Court.

He was never guilty of these charges in the first place and is now a free man. The decision by the High Court cannot be challenged.

Pell has suffered greatly and has been the victim of outrageous lies. He has been smeared, spat upon, and forced to endure solitary confinement for crimes he never committed. 

This was a sham from the get-go and should never have made its way through the Australian courts. 

Pell was charged with abusing two boys in 1996. One of the boys overdosed on drugs, but not before telling his mother—on two occasions—that Pell never abused him. The other boy's accusation was undercut by the dead boy's account: they were allegedly abused at the same time and place. There were no witnesses to an offense that supposedly took place after Mass in the sacristy of a church.

Here is what the High Court said about this matter. "The assumption that a group of choristers, including adults, might have been so preoccupied with making their way to the robing room as to fail to notice the extraordinary sight of the Archbishop of Melbourne dressed 'in his full regalia' advancing through the procession and pinning a 13 year old boy to the wall, is a large one."

That is putting it mildly. It is preposterous. 

We at the Catholic League have been defending Cardinal Pell for many years. Here's a chronological list of my public statements in defense of him, all of which are available on our website.

  • "Cardinal Pell Should Sue For Libel," March 12, 2013

  • "Unsubstantiated Accusations," April 10, 2013

  • "Yanked!" February 9, 2016

  • "CNN Op-Ed On Sexual Abuse Is Flawed," June 30, 2017

  • "The Washington Post Is At It Again," July 5, 2017

  • "The New York Times Piles On," July 7, 2017

  • "Cardinal Pell Acquires Top Lawyer," July 11, 2017

  • "The War on Cardinal Pell," July 20, 2017

  • "Foes of Cardinal Pell In High Gear," July 25, 2017

  • "Media Cast Wide Net In Pell Case," July 26, 2017

  • "Australia's War On Christian Kids," July 31, 2017

  • "Australian Abuse Report Deeply Flawed," October 2, 2017

  • "Media Bias Against Cardinal Pell," January 8, 2018

  • "Cardinal Pell's Ordeal Continues," April 17, 2018

  • "Cardinal Pell's Hearings Were An Eye-Opener," April 24, 2018

  • "Cardinal Pell Pleads 'Not Guilty,'" May 1, 2018

  • "Can Cardinal Pell Ever Get A Fair Trial?" May 16, 2018

  • "Washington Post Columnist Gets It Wrong," December 14, 2018

  • "Rolling Stone's Dishonest Hit On Cardinal Pell," March 19, 2019

  • "Cardinal Pell's Appeal Is Justified," February 26, 2019

  • "Cardinal Pell Victimized," August 21, 2019

  • "Cardinal Pell And Brett Kavanaugh; Two Defamed Catholics," September 30, 2019

  • "Measure Of Justice For Cardinal Pell," November 13, 2019

  • "Cardinal Pell Targeted Again," April 2, 2020

This has been a terrible Lenten period with the coronavirus pandemic, but Lent 2020 will also be remembered by Catholics as one of great joy: Cardinal Pell has finally been exonerated. Those who tried to destroy him—and there were many all over the world—will have to answer one day for what they have done. 

Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.

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