The main point that emerges from Ross Fitzgerald’s review of Gerard Henderson’s book, Cardinal Pell, the Media Pile-on and Collective Guilt, is that the cardinal’s antagonists remain immovable in their belief that he is guilty as charged. It does not matter what has been said, how detailed and coherent the analysis of the ‘choirboy’s’ absurd story, the 7-0 verdict of the High Court, and the international consternation at the failure of Australia’s legal system, they remain impervious. You only have to follow Louise Milligan’s twitter account to witness the mob’s delusion and unrestrained hatred of Cardinal Pell. Indeed, I have described Milligan as delusional, but I wonder. Is it delusion or is it pure malice? Is she mad or bad? Gerard Henderson’s highly recommended book provides evidence for one or the other – or perhaps both.
Cardinal George Pell: a man of sorrows
Ross Fitzgerald, The Australian, 8 December 2021
The case of George Pell revealed deep fault lines in Australian society. Some people were convinced of his innocence, but many others wanted him to be guilty.
The trial, retrial, and conviction in December 2018 of Cardinal Pell for historical child sexual abuse of two choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral that allegedly occurred in the mid-1990s, gained international attention.
Sensationally, in April 2020, all seven judges of the High Court of Australia quashed Pell’s conviction.
On April 7, 2020 at 10am, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel quoted from the unanimous judgment: “It is evident that there is a possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.” That Tuesday morning, as a high-profile convicted pedophile, Cardinal Pell was in solitary confinement at the maximum security Barwon Prison, near Geelong. He had been incarcerated in various prisons for 405 days.
As Gerard Henderson documents in this scrupulously researched book, the High Court’s decision had huge reverberations. Even though the evidence against him was weak, most of Pell’s opponents, in Australia and overseas, retain their unambiguously entrenched positions.
Henderson argues, convincingly, that the Cardinal’s many antagonists continue to deny him the presumption of innocence.