By Miranda Devine
Thank God. Cardinal George Pell has been exonerated. Justice has been done at last.
A good priest, falsely accused and railroaded through a politically motivated police investigation and an unfair trial, can walk free during Holy Week.
An innocent man persecuted as the reviled scapegoat for all the sins of the Catholic Church is free of the most disgusting and implausible charges of child rape after Australia’s highest court Tuesday dismissed the convictions against the Vatican’s former chief financial officer.
This was Australia’s Dreyfus Affair, an egregious miscarriage of justice that has destroyed the reputation of the country’s justice system.
The case that Pell raped two choirboys after Sunday Mass in a crowded St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996 was absurd from the start.
Pell, 78, was convicted in 2018 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 media lynch mob and the entire local legal system stand condemned. The unanimous decision of the High Court is a conclusive repudiation of everyone involved in the false imprisonment of Pell, every politician, every cop, every lawyer, every journalist, every coward who naively trusted the system and vilified as “pedophile protectors” those who maintained Pell’s innocence.
Mark Weinberg, the sole dissenting judge on the Victorian Court of Appeal, has been vindicated. His 204-page opinion last year formed the basis for Pell’s appeal to the High Court. As the High Court said in its judgment, the Court of Appeal did not leave open the reasonable possibility that the offense did not happen.
Australian court dismisses top cardinal’s sex abuse convictions
The jurors assessed the complainant’s evidence as reliable but they should have entertained the possibility of reasonable doubt.
In a statement after the High Court’s decision, Pell said he holds “no ill will to my accuser … The only basis for long term healing is truth. The only basis for justice is truth.”
During 404 days in prison, he was buoyed by his faith, his innocence, and the thousands of letters and prayers of the faithful.
He also said he was praying for everyone affected by the coronavirus.
The question has to be asked, was Cardinal Pell, at the age of 78, kept in jail in the middle of a pandemic for a minute longer than was necessary? It could have killed him.