The release of Cardinal George Pell from prison and the quashing of his sentence by Australia’s High Court is a long overdue correction for one of the greatest miscarriages of injustice in Australian history.
Also — and very nearly as satisfyingly — it represents the most tremendously crushing blow to leftists, Social Justice Warriors, eco-loons across the world.
These people wanted Cardinal Pell in prison because he represented everything they hated: old, white, outspoken, Christian, conservative, and climate sceptic.
The fact that he was entirely innocent of the outrageous crime of which he had been accused was neither here nor there to the left-liberal lynch mob. They just needed a scalp — a ‘Great White Defendant’ — and poor George Pell fitted the bill just perfectly.
Pell’s ordeal — described as ‘one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Australian history’ — began in December 2018 when at the age of 78, he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old choirboy and molesting his friend after a Sunday Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.
Cardinal Pell spent 404 days in prison for a crime of which he was wholly innocent.
His conviction rested on the testimony of two boys — one who has since died and who, before his death withdrew his complaint — who claimed that the cardinal raped them in the five or six minutes immediately after Sunday Mass.
But as journalist Andrew Bolt has pointed out, this would have been impossible as described — not least because in the aftermath of a Mass, there are simply too many people coming and going for a cardinal to have the opportunity to rape two boys unnoticed in a cathedral sacristy.
The seven judges of Australia’s High Court agreed with him, ruling unanimously in favour of Cardinal Pell’s instant acquittal.
They noted that it was Cardinal Pell’s practice to greet congregants at or near the cathedral steps immediately after solemn mass. (There were witnesses to this, yet this was the only time when Pell could conceivably have committed the sex acts of which he was falsely accused.)
They noted that established Catholic Church practice required Pell, as an Archbishop, always to be accompanied when robed in the Cathedral by his Monsignor.
They noted that the continuous traffic in and out of the priest’s sacristy (where the alleged offences supposedly took place) in the ten to fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the procession made it inconceivable that the rapes could have taken place.
Yet despite this unanimous decision by the highest court in Australia, Pell’s reputation remains in tatters and his many enemies continue to vilify him.
Partly, no doubt, this reflects a widespread popular belief that when a Catholic priest is accused of sexual abuse, he cannot possibly be innocent.
Partly it’s a reflection of the fact that for roughly half of the world — the left-wing half — Cardinal Pell has the wrong politics.
As Jo Nova says:
George Pell was on the wrong side of every fashionable cause: An old white man, a christian, and a climate skeptic. He threatened the religion of political correctness in every way, and a witch hunt made him target number one. Despite his position of power and influence, the best evidence the pogrom could find was the word of one boy, decades later, with no corroborating evidence. The irrational groupthink fashion swept through juries, judges and even the Victorian Court of Appeal. But today in Australia the High Court, the final last chance for justice, freed George Pell from jail 7-0.
According to columnist Miranda Devine in Australia’s Daily Telegraph:
He was convicted and imprisoned over the most heinous of all crimes on the word of one anonymous complainant, whose testimony was unsupported by any other witnesses, or any forensic evidence. The same fate could befall any Victorian.
The media lynch mob and the entire Victorian legal system stand condemned. The unanimous decision of the High Court is a conclusive repudiation of everyone involved in the false imprisonment of Cardinal George Pell, every politician, every cop, every lawyer, every journalist, every coward …
Indeed. Cardinal Pell was, to all intents and purposes, a political prisoner.
Anyone who still doubts that Cardinal Pell was a victim of the most outrageous travesty of justice should watch this analysis from Jesuit priest and lawyer Fr. Frank Brennan:
Or watch this analysis from Andrew Bolt, who describes his prosecution as a ‘witch hunt’ and his imprisonment as ‘the greatest miscarriage of justice’.
And here — from 2011 — is a speech he gave which goes some way to explaining why he attracted such hatred from the left.
It was titled, ‘One Christian Perspective On Climate Change’ and delivered in London at Westminster Cathedral Hall to the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Theologians do not have too much to contribute on AGW except, perhaps, to note the ubiquity of the “religious gene” and point out regressions into pseudo-religion or rudimentary semi-religious enthusiasms.
Later in his speech, he described a phenomenon which applies at least as much to current official policy on coronavirus as it does to climate change:
Sometimes the very learned and clever can be brilliantly foolish, especially when seized by an apparently good cause. My request is for common sense and more, not less; what the medievals, following Aristotle, called prudence, one of the four cardinal virtues: the “recta ratio agibilium” or right reason in doing things. We might call this a cost-benefit analysis, where costs and benefits are defined financially and morally or humanly and their level of probability is carefully estimated. Are there any long term benefits from the schemes to combat global warming, apart from extra tax revenues for governments and income for those devising and implementing the schemes? Will the burdens be shared generally, or fall mainly on the shoulders of the battlers, the poor? Another useful Latin maxim is “in dubio non agitur”: don’t act when in doubt. There is no precautionary principle, only the criteria for assessing what actions are prudent.
When Galileo was placed under house arrest primarily because of his claim that the earth moved around the sun, he is said to have muttered “Eppur’ si muove”; and yet it moves.
As for Galileo so for us, the appeal must be to the evidence, not to any consensus, whatever the levels of confusion or self-interested coercion. First of all we need adequate scientific explanations as a basis for our economic estimates. We also need history, philosophy, even theology and many will use, perhaps create, mythologies. But most importantly we need to distinguish which is which.
Welcome back to the free world, Cardinal Pell.