PopeWatch: Cardinal Pell

PopeWatch suspects that a grave injustice has occurred in Australia to Cardinal Pell, one of the key players in the struggles in the Vatican during the current Pontificate.  George Weigel at National Review Online has a good post on what looks to PopeWatch like a runaway jury:

Before the trial, one of the complainants died, having told his mother that he had never been assaulted. During the trial, there was no corroboration of the surviving complainant’s charges. Other choirboys (now, of course, grown), as well as the choir director and his assistant, the adult members of the choir, the master of ceremonies, and the sacristan all testified, and from their testimony we learn the following: that no one recalled any choirboys bolting from the procession after Mass; that none of those in the immediate vicinity of the alleged abuse noticed anything; that indeed nothing could have happened in a secured space without someone noticing; and that there was neither gossip nor rumor about any such dramatic and vile incident afterward.

Notwithstanding this evidence of Cardinal Pell’s innocence (an innocence affirmed by ten of the twelve members of the first trial jury), the second trial jury returned a verdict of 12–0 for conviction. Observers at the trial told me that the trial judge seemed surprised on hearing the verdict. The verdict and the finding of the first, hung jury suggest that, in the media circus surrounding Pell, a fair jury trial was virtually impossible. That point was recently conceded by the attorney general of the State of Victoria, who suggested that the law might be amended to permit bench trials by a judge alone in such cases — an option not afforded George Pell. (Shortly before the media-suppression order was lifted on February 25, the Victoria prosecutors dropped two more charges against Cardinal Pell, of even greater dubiety and dating back some four decades.)

Cardinal Pell’s lawyers will of course appeal. The appeal will be heard by a panel of senior judges, who can decide that what is called in Australia an “unsafe verdict” — one that the jury could not rationally have reached on the basis of the evidence — was rendered and that therefore Pell’s conviction is null and void. For Cardinal Pell’s sake, and for the reputation of the justice system in the state of Victoria, one must hope that the appellate judges will do the right thing.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch is stunned to learn that Pell did not have the right to choose a bench trial.  Predators among the clergy need to be stopped, but innocent men are not infrequently paying the price of the misdeeds of others, as a wave of hysteria, fueled by anti-Catholic bigotry, has built into a perfect storm.  PopeWatch fears that Cardinal Pell is in that category of the innocent paying for the sins and crimes of others.


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  1. Amen Donald. Amen. Catdinal Pell did not testify at his own trial in his defence. He has not requested bail. He has not uttered a word. He spends his first night in jail tonight. Please keep him in your prayers. Here in Australia, If anybody even utters the claim that he is innocent and that the verdict is unjust then they are being labelled a paedophile supporter. The anti-Catholic bigotry is alive and well in Australia.

  2. And as for his pope? Will he go for the kill and laicise his banker, who dared uncover unreported billions?
    You be he will.

  3. “PopeWatch is stunned to learn that Pell did not have the right to choose a bench trial.”

    They are unknown in Scotland and in England, too. However, strict reporting restrictions keep pre-trial publicity to a minimum.

    In Scotland, hung juries are unknown, thanks to the simple expedient of having an odd number of jurors (15) with a majority sufficing for conviction or acquittal. Here, Cardinal Pell would have been acquitted on the first trial.

    In Victoria, committal proceedings are reported in the press; something clearly calculated to taint the jury pool.

  4. “They are unknown in Scotland and in England, too.”

    In the US in criminal cases the Defendant always chooses Bench or Jury. It is one of the key advantages of the Defense.

    In civil cases, where jury trials are allowed (the vast majority of the cases) either party may ask for a jury trial, otherwise it will be a bench trial.

  5. Mar thank you. Well there have been repeated claims of abuse made against Pell for the past 10 years which have been discredited. It is indeed a witch hunt. The victims of abuse are real- it is a huge stain on our Church and left the faithful despondent about the future, myself included. However in the case of Cardinal Pell, the motive by the bigots has been to go after the highest ranking cleric to bring the Church to its knees. But unfortunately they have gone after a devout, intelligent, strong man of God and unfortunately the real scroundrels within the Church will go unnoticed. Nobody from the Vatican has aided Pell through all of this. And It all became very vicious after his appointment as the head of finance and he was uncovering the financial corruption which has been going on within the Vatican for years. Convenient timing there. It reaks of a set up. I hope justice for him is served during appeal. And I hope the real filth gets cleaned out starting from the very top- God knows who they are.

  6. Have the judge, lawyers and members of the jury visited the crime site? Was the claim re-enacted? Was the probability of imposter?

  7. John – as far as I understand and have read (the trial was held with no media presence or reporting so details are coming in slowly), the defence didn’t think to re-enact or even bring in the priestly garment that Pell would have worn. When the accuser said that Cardinal Pell “parted his garment” to abuse him, the defence questioned this as the garments cannot be parted becuase it is closed and seamless and heavy. The accuser then changed his “wording”. There was a lot of this sort of changing of evidence going on but the jury still found the “evidence overwhelming” in favour of the accuser…or to cut the BS, the jury had their minds made up before they even laid their backsides in that courtroom. Yes the defence lawyer could have brought in the actual garment and even shown there are no doors on the sacristy and shown them how busy the sacristy is after mass and that this behaviour could not have happened. The defence lawyer could have done a lot of things differently, including convincing Pell himself to testify in his defence…but it’s done now.

  8. Ezabelle wrote, “the trial was held with no media presence or reporting.”

    Journalists were resent throughout both trials. There was however a reporting restriction as long as further charges were pending. Those have now been dropped and the reporting restrictions lifted.

    The English Guardian newspaper has now published reports, having had a reporter in court throughout both trials.

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