After more than 400 days in prison, Cardinal George Pell said he was always hopeful about the High Court decision that acquitted him of all charges and released him from incarceration yesterday. Source: CNA.
By Ed Condon, CNA
Shortly after his release from prison yesterday, the Cardinal said that while he had kept faith he would be eventually exonerated, he tried not to be “too optimistic”.
The High Court issued its decision shortly after 10am yesterday, granting Cardinal Pell’s request for special leave to appeal, quashing his convictions for sexual abuse, and ordering that he be acquitted of all charges.
As the decision was announced by the court in Brisbane, Cardinal Pell watched from his cell in Barwon Prison, southwest of Melbourne.
“I was watching the television news in my cell when the news came through,” he said.
“First, I heard that leave was granted and then that the convictions were quashed. I thought, ‘Well that’s great. I’m delighted.’”
After his release, Cardinal Pell said he spent the afternoon at a quiet location in Melbourne and enjoyed a steak for his first “free” meal in more than 400 days.
“What I am really looking forward to is celebrating a private Mass,” he said. “It has been a very long time, so that is a great blessing.”
The cardinal said he had lived his time in prison as a “long retreat,” and a time for reflection, writing, and, above all, prayer.
"Prayer has been the great source of strength to me throughout these times, including the prayers of others, and I am incredibly grateful to all those people who have prayed for me and helped me during this really challenging time.”
In a public statement at the time of his release, Cardinal Pell offered his solidarity with victims of sexual abuse.
“I hold no ill will to my accuser,” he said in the statement. “I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.
“The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.”
Quashed: High Court declares George Pell innocent (The Australian)