Academic Chris Friel, on the other side of the world in Cornwall, has produced a series of permanently relevant articles on the conviction of Cardinal Pell. His latest is a forensic analyses of Louise Milligan’s book CARDINAL. Milligan’s book has been a boon for Australia’s army of anti-Catholic bigots.
By Chris S Friel
Introduction. In this paper I will critically review Louise Milligan’s Cardinal, drawing chiefly on the 2019 edition published after Pell’s conviction in 2018 for child sex abuse. The subtitle reads, New Revelations, The Rise and Fall of George Pell. The first edition was published in 2017. The book by the renowned ABC journalist was the primary instrument in the “trial by media,” and very plausibly, it softened up the jury – despite the fact that it was removed just before the police pressed charges against the accused. As my review will make clear, I regard the book as a malign influence.
We can cite the blurb to make some opening remarks. Thus we learn that “Pell’s ascendancy was seemingly unstoppable … But … Louise Milligan pieces together decades of disturbing activities highlighting Pell’s actions and cover-ups. The book is a testament to the most intimate stories of complainants.” My review will address the “actions” rather than the supposed “cover-ups,” for such actions are relevant to the two trials Pell faced: the “swimmers trial” relating to indecency alleged in the 1970s, and the “cathedral trial” in which a jury found Pell guilty. Arguably, it was in bringing such actions to “light” that Milligan stopped Pell’s ascendency. To all this we can add the blurb from Senator Derryn Hinch, “This book is one of the most forensic, explosive, historically detailed tomes I have ever read.”
We take such words as our cue. We hope to explode the pretensions of Milligan’s work and subject those historical details to rational scrutiny. The word “forensic,” actually, is etymologically linked to the word “forum,” and so pertains to the public square. We hope our rational scrutiny will prove forensic in the full sense of the word.