OF CARDINAL GEORGE PELL ON CRIMINAL CHARGES
|Andrew Rabel||7:10 AM (42 minutes ago)|
Cardinal Pell being driven away this morning from the Barwon Prison in Lara, facing his first day of freedom
This morning in the High Court of Australia released its unanimous decision by a vote of 7-0, that Cardinal George Pell was to be acquitted of all five charges resulting in criminal convictions for sexual abuse of two minors in late 1996 & early 1997 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, when he was archbishop of Melbourne.
The main concern of the judges was that the jury should have acquitted him of the charges on the basis of the exculpatory evidence that indicated that these were not “beyone reasonable doubt”, a principle enshrined in our system of criminal law. In the cardinal’s appeal to the Court of Appeals the majority verdict indicated that because one of the complainants was a “credible witness”, (the other had passed away) the jury could have rendered a guilty verdict purely on this basis. This thesis was rejected by the High Court.
Here is a link which which gives the explanation for their decision at length.
This evening the Vatican issued its first official statement since the news of the acquittal was announced. It said,
“The Holy See, which has always expressed confidence in the Australian judicial authority, welcomes the High Court’s unanimous decision concerning Cardinal George Pell, acquitting him of the accusations of abuse of minors and overturning his sentence.
Entrusting his case to the court’s justice, Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence, and has waited for the truth to be ascertained.
At the same time, the Holy See reaffirms its commitment to preventing and pursuing all cases of abuse against minors.”
While I have not heard this mentioned anywhere, I believe the canonical trial that was supposed to be commenced in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, if the Australian judicial system maintained a guilty verdict after the exhaustion of all appeals, will not take place now.
What has particularly surprised me has been the unanimous decison of the High Court to acquit Cardinal Pell, and the fact that liberal judges voted with the more conservative ones to overturn the criminal convictions. I thought it would be a split decision, if he was to be as fortunate as this.
As I remarked on my Facebook page today, (I must confess this is not original, someone else said it), “with Con Petropoulous (played by Eric Bana in The Castle) I say, “This decision has restored my faith in the Australian Legal System”Praised be Jesus & Mary. I am aware of the incredible bouquet of prayers, Masses offered and fasting that have happened world wide, for the intention of today’s result.