Paul Collits, The Freedoms Project, 12 December 2020
There was a pleasant surprise in the mail a few weeks back, when a new book arrived. It was a book that I had not anticipated, though perhaps I should have. It is The Persecution of George Pell, by Keith Windschuttle (Quadrant Books, 2020).
Windschuttle, the long-time editor of Quadrant magazine, has written the first pro-Pell book since the Cardinal’s exoneration by the High Court of Australia last April and his release from prison. He had been held captive for over 400 days. Against this, the three books about the Pell case already on the shelves remain festering there, all of them written by Pell-hating, leftist feminists, without apology or modification.
One, indeed, was published after the High Court decision. This was the book by The Guardian’s Melissa Davey. Much of it would have been written prior to the High Court case, and no doubt the ending had to be altered, likely through gritted teeth. Another was written by the (mostly) freelance journalist Lucie Morris Marr, the recipient in February 2016 of the leaked story that VicPol was investigating George Pell for sex abuse. It is simply called Fallen. Morris Marr still refers, rather tortuously and maliciously, to Pell as the “former convicted paedophile”. She just doesn’t want to let go of either the swoon over the Cardinal’s conviction or of her own – at least in her own mind – critical role in the saga. And the most infamous book of all was the ABC “journalist” Louise Milligan’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, originally published in 2017, updated after his conviction yet notably unamended since April. Milligan’s book has been described, perhaps unkindly, by an American observer as a collection of “semi-literate VicPol talking points”, and by another as simply a book-length character reference for the main Pell complainant.
Two of the three books should, in conscience, be renamed to reflect the Cardinal’s now established innocence of the crimes for which he was unjustly convicted in 2018.
Massively superior to these Pell-loathing potboilers in its thoroughness, depth, breadth, style, rigour, intellectual heft, restraint, level of analysis and reporting of the truth, The Persecution of George Pell will restore much needed balance to the published output on the Pell case. The likely emergence of other, similar book-length accounts of the case will only strengthen the sense of restored sense and perspective achieved by Windschuttle’s book, which addresses questions that are core to the case yet studiously, indeed malevolently, ignored by his competitors. In fact, to compare Windschuttle’s book to the others would be to make a category error.