Lessons Learned from Pell’s Sad Saga of Suffering.
Father Frank Brennan SJ
The Australian, April 11, 2020
Two weeks before Cardinal George Pell faced the jury of 12 fellow citizens who convicted him of vile sexual assaults on two choirboys, Scott Morrison delivered the national apology to victims of child sexual assault. Morrison told parliament: “Not just as a father, but as a Prime Minister, I am angry too at the calculating destruction of lives and the abuse of trust, including those who have abused the shield of faith and religion to hide their crimes, a shield that is supposed to protect the innocent, not the guilty. They stand condemned … On behalf of the Australian people, this parliament and our government … I simply say I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you.”
In Pell’s case, the jury believed the complainant, Mr J, who said he recalled events from 22 years previously when he was a 13-year-old member of the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir. They were convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Pell committed these crimes in the priests’ sacristy after a Sunday 11am solemn mass. Now the High Court has unanimously decided that the jury got it wrong. The court has ruled that on the evidence presented at trial, no jury could properly be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that these assaults occurred. The highest court in the land has determined that Pell is not guilty of these charges. How can this be? What lessons are to be learnt for the wellbeing of victims and complainants? How can the Victorian criminal justice system be improved to assist complainants who come forward many years after experiencing dreadful trauma, while at the same time protecting those who are wrongly accused?Continue reading Fr Brennan comments on the Pell Affair