Australia’s bishops have welcomed the High Court’s decision to quash Cardinal George Pell's convictions, while also acknowledging the suffering of abuse victims. Source: The Australian.
By Tessa Akerman, The Australian
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said many people had believed in Cardinal Pell’s innocence throughout the lengthy process. Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the ACBC also recognised that the court’s decision would be devastating for others.
“Many have suffered greatly through the process, which has now reached its conclusion,” he said. “The result … does not change the Church’s unwavering commitment to child safety and to a just and compassionate response to survivors and victims of child sexual abuse.”
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli said the case had been an intense and painful time for all of those personally involved, those who had experienced abuse and for the Catholic community in Melbourne.
“I want to firstly acknowledge the person identified through the courts only as ‘J’, who brought forward his story of abuse for examination in the courts of law. This is a right we value and honour,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
The archbishop also acknowledged Cardinal Pell had steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout the legal proceedings.
“This decision means the cardinal was wrongly convicted and imprisoned, and he is now free to live his life peaceably within the community,” he said.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said the saga invited a broader reflection on our justice system and the treatment of high-profile figures accused of crimes.
“I thank the judges for their meticulous review of the facts and the detailed judgment setting out the reasons for acquittal,” he said.
Archbishop Fisher said he was pleased the cardinal would be released and asked that the pursuit of him that “brought us to this point now cease”.
“The cardinal’s vindication today invites broader reflection on our system of justice, our commitment to the presumption of innocence, and our treatment of high-profile figures accused of crimes,” he said.
Ballarat Bishop Paul Bird said the trials and appeals had been distressing, with a special impact on Ballarat because of “Cardinal Pell’s early connections with this city”.
Statement from Archbishop from Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP Archbishop of Sydney (Sydney Archdiocese)
Statement from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB (Perth Archdiocese)
Statement on High Court decision: Cardinal George Pell (Hobart Archdiocese)