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.