The Holy Week of Cardinal Pell
While it was still nighttime in Rome, on Tuesday April 7 the Australian high court unanimously ruled for the acquittal of Cardinal George Pell and his immediate return to freedom. The photo shows him as he leaves the maximum security prison in Barwon, near Melbourne. He will therefore be able to celebrate his first Mass after 14 months of incarceration.
This is the full text of the verdict:
And this is the statement that Cardinal Pell issued immediately after his release:
The seven high court judges explained their decision on the basis of the “reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.”
Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence and has now said that “the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.”
The ruling puts an end to seven years of legal action, set in motion in 2014 by a police investigation in Victoria and accelerated in 2017 by the emergence of charges that were later partly dropped, concerning events from decades before. Pell left Rome for Melbourne and in 2018 was tried and sentenced to six years in prison, on the basis of the accusation of a single person whose identity has never been made public and against whom the cardinal says he harbors no resentment.
Confirmed on appeal by two judges against one, the sentence has now been definitively reversed by the high court.