Source: Archdioceses of Melbourne/Sydney/Vatican Media
The Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, dismissed Cardinal George Pell's appeal yesterday, in a 2-1 decision. The Catholic Church in Australia and the Holy See have released the following statements in response to the verdict.
A statement released by Cardinal Pell's spokesperson said: "Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision." It then notes that his legal team will be examining the judgement to "determine a special-leave application to the High Court" of Australia. The statement ends declaring once again that in spite of "the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence."
Statement from President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge:
The Victorian Court of Appeal has today announced that, in a 2-1 decision, Cardinal George Pell's appeal against his convictions for child sexual abuse offences has been dismissed.
The Catholic Bishops of Australia believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today's judgement accordingly.
Cardinal Pell's legal team has said it will examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.
The Bishops realise that this has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them. We acknowledge the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through the long process of the trials and appeal of Cardinal Pell. We also acknowledge that this judgement will be distressing to many people.
We remain committed to doing everything we can to bring healing to those who have suffered greatly and to ensuring that Catholic settings are the safest possible places for all people, but especially for children and vulnerable adults.
Statement from Archbishop of Melbourne, Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Today the Victorian Court of Appeal, in a 2:1 majority decision, dismissed Cardinal George Pell's appeal against his conviction for assaulting two choir boys at St Patrick's Cathedral in late 1996 and early 1997.
I respectfully receive the Court's decision, and I encourage everyone to do the same. That there have been two trials, and now today's decision in the Court of Appeal, the complexity of the search for the truth in this matter has tested many, and may very well continue to do so.
My thoughts and prayers are with the man who brought this matter before the courts. I humbly acknowledge it has been a challenging time for him, and I stand ready to offer pastoral and spiritual help, should he seek it.
In Christian charity, I will ensure that Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence, according to the teaching and example of Jesus to visit those in prison.
I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the people who have been involved in this case. For many, this has been a demanding and distressing experience.
To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, I want to acknowledge the deep impact today's decision will have for you. My prayer is that all of us might reach out to each other in faith, hope and love, as I do for you at this moment.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne continues to work with survivors to offer support for their healing, recovery and well-being. This is based upon an Archdiocesan-wide commitment to build a culture of respect and safety for all, and to reach out to those who courageously bring forward their stories.
I re-commit myself and the Archdiocese to a culture that listens, that seeks to bring justice and healing, and that protects children and vulnerable people.
Statement from Archbishop of Sydney - Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
The Victorian Court of Appeal has today upheld the verdict of historical sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell in a 2-1 decision.
From the outset the Cardinal has strenuously maintained his innocence. He continues to do so notwithstanding today's decision.
Today's split decision amongst the judges is consistent with the differing views of the juries in the first and second trials, as well as the divided opinion amongst legal commentators and the general public. Reasonable people have taken different views when presented with the same evidence and I urge everyone to maintain calm and civility.
As the Cardinal may yet decide to appeal the judgment to the High Court of Australia, I am limited in my ability to comment on today's outcome.
Matters of the Cardinal's status within the Church can only be determined by the Vatican, not the Church in Australia. I anticipate that the Holy See may well wait until the appeal process has been exhausted.
I recommit myself and the Archdiocese of Sydney to doing all we can to ensure that past crimes are never repeated and that Church environments are the safest possible for children and vulnerable adults.
I pray for and will continue to support survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy and other members of the Catholic Church so that they may find justice and healing. I again say how sorry I am that you were harmed by people you should have been able to trust. I am conscious how you and your loved ones have had to live with the consequences of abuse for a lifetime.
I know that there are many in the Catholic community and beyond who will find it difficult to come to terms with this judgment, especially those who know the Cardinal and will struggle to reconcile this outcome with the man they know. I thank them for persevering in faith, hope and love.
As we wait to hear whether the legal process will continue, I will seek to provide pastoral support to those Catholics who may have found their faith tested.
Vatican statement on Cardinal Pell verdict
After the decision on Cardinal George Pell's appeal was delivered Wednesday morning in Australia, the Holy See Press Office published the following statement:
While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on 26 February after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court's decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell's appeal.
As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.
At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.
George Weigel comments in First Things: www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/08/the-australian-disgrace
Christopher Lamb writes in the Tablet - Cardinal Pell analysis what happens next : www.thetablet.co.uk/news/11989/cardinal-pell-analysis-what-happens-next-
Michael Sean Winter in NCRonline: www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/distinctly-catholic/pell-verdict-various-shades-justice
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