Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli believes Cardinal George Pell is innocent and has suggested the cardinal's accuser may have been abused by someone else. Source: The Age.
Archbishop Comensoli appeared on 3AW Radio yesterday to stand by Cardinal Pell, a day after Victoria's highest court sent the cardinal back to prison for abusing two 13-year-old boys in the 1990s.
"I believe in what [Pell] said to me on many occasions, that he's innocent, and I continue to be really quite shocked with how things have developed," Archbishop Comensoli said.
He said he believed the surviving victim, known as "J", had been abused by someone, but held doubts that it was by the cardinal.
"Then there's this question of who's actually been the abuser in this case."
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal disagreed. Five child sexual abuse convictions against Cardinal Pell were upheld after a jury of 12 unanimously found him guilty last year. One of the three judges dissented in Wednesday's judgment.
Cardinal Pell, 78, has always maintained he is innocent and could try a last ditch challenge in the High Court of Australia.
Archbishop Comensoli said he accepted the court's judgment, "and that judgment at the moment is that he's guilty of child sex abuse and so we will live with that reality".
Cardinal Pell has been behind bars since February when a County Court judge jailed him for at least three years and eight months. Archbishop Comensoli said he had since visited him once, in May, both in his role as Archbishop but also "as a friend".
The Archbishop plans to visit him again, and said the cardinal could spend his final days in jail.