Keith Windschuttle, Quadrant, 18 February 2020
Yet another powerful article by Keith Windschuttle, utterly blowing apart the case against Cardinal Pell, and showing how very degraded Victoria’s justice system has become.
The Priests’ Sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne gets its name from the fact that it is where the priests robe and disrobe before and after Mass. Priests are normally part of the Sunday ceremony and the final procession out of the cathedral. They return to the priests’ sacristy along with the altar servers at the back of the procession, following the choir. (Some other altar servers lead the procession ahead of the choir.) When they arrive at the priests’ sacristy, the altar servers are engaged in their own separate duties of retrieving liturgical items from the cathedral sanctuary and storing them in the priests’ sacristy. In December 1996, when the Archbishop’s own sacristy was being refurbished, any concelebrant priests joined then Archbishop George Pell in robing and disrobing in the priests’ sacristy. The cathedral’s master of ceremonies, Charles Portelli, said that he could remember helping Pell to robe and disrobe when he first said Mass as Archbishop at his first Sunday Solemn Mass at the cathedral. Portelli added that concelebrant priests were present in the priests’ sacristy at the time Pell both robed and disrobed. [cited by Weinberg, minority judgment, Victorian Court of Appeal, paragraph 716] This was at the same time, and in the same room, that the choirboy claimed Pell sexually abused him and his friend.
[see also Keith Windschuttle: The Crown prosecutor’s bent trump card]
The sacristan responsible for the whole of the cathedral’s sacristy area, Max Potter, told the trial the concelebrant priests took part in the procession after Mass. They were positioned towards the rear of the procession, behind the choir. Potter added that these priests would disrobe in the priests’ sacristy after Mass, and remained there talking among themselves while waiting to farewell the Archbishop when he returned after meeting and greeting worshippers on the cathedral’s front steps. This evidence was not challenged by the prosecution. [Weinberg, par 72] Here is the exchange between Pell’s defence counsel Robert Richter and Potter:
Q: Let’s put it this way. (To Potter) When you were not in the sacristy were you aware as to what the altar servers were doing? A: Taking things what I gave them from the sanctuary to put in the sacristy, and then they would come back out — out — out, and to see if there was anything else to come off the sanctuary.
Q: Would there have been more than — sorry, by then would the priests have arrived back from the procession? A: They would — they would arrive back and disrobe.
Q: And they disrobed in the priest sacristy? A: Sacristy, yes.
Q: And sometimes they would sit around and talk? A: Or waiting for the Archbishop to come back. Yes. …
Q: So, Monsignor Portelli comes back with the Archbishop. There are people in the sacristy waiting for the Archbishop? A: Yes.
Q: They say their goodbyes? A: Yes.
Q: Everyone unvests? A: Yes. [cited Weinberg, par 732]