Pell in 2012
|Church||Catholic Church (Latin Church)|
|Other posts||Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria Domenica Mazzarello (2003–present)|
|Ordination||16 December 1966|
by Gregorio Pietro Agagianian
|Consecration||21 May 1987|
by Frank Little
|Created cardinal||21 October 2003|
by John Paul II
|Born||8 June 1941|
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
('Be not afraid')
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
|Known for||Highest ranked Catholic leader convicted of child sex offences|
|Comments||Subject to a separate canonical investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith|
|Victims||Two teenage boys (at the time of the crime), one since deceased|
|Imprisoned at||Melbourne Assessment Prison|
George Pell AC (born 8 June 1941) is an Australian cardinal of the Catholic Church and convicted child sex offender. He served as the inaugural prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy between 2014 and 2019, and was a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers between 2013 and 2018. Ordained in 1966 and created a cardinal in 2003, Pell has previously served as the eighth Archbishop of Sydney (2001–2014), the seventh Archbishop of Melbourne (1996–2001) and an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne (1987–1996). He has also been an author, columnist and public speaker. Since 1996 Pell has maintained a high public profile on a wide range of issues, while retaining a strict adherence to Catholic orthodoxy. His views on the environment, and global warming in particular, are inconsistent with scientific consensus.
Pell worked as a priest in regional Victoria and in Melbourne as well as chairing the aid organisation Caritas Australia from 1988 to 1997. He was appointed as a delegate to the Australian Constitutional Convention in 1998, received the Centenary Medal from the Australian government in 2003 and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2005. During his tenure as the Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell set up the "Melbourne Response" protocol to investigate and deal with complaints of child sexual abuse in the archdiocese. The protocol was the first of its kind in the world, but has been subject to a variety of criticisms.
Pell is the Catholic Church's most senior official to be convicted of child sexual abuse. In June 2017, Pell was charged in Victoria with multiple historical sexual assault offences; he denied all charges. On 11 December 2018 Pell was found guilty on five charges related to sexual assault of two boys in the 1990s. On 13 March 2019 Pell was sentenced to six years in prison. Pell's conviction had initially been subject to a suppression order issued by Judge Peter Kidd, suppressing coverage of the conviction by Australian media companies, and lifted on 26 February 2019 after pending charges in a second trial were dropped. International media reported on the conviction immediately, commenting on the difficulty confirming details of the trial and conviction due to the suppression order.
Pell lodged an appeal against his conviction to the Victorian Court of Appeal, which dismissed Pell's appeal by a majority of two to one in August 2019. On 13 November 2019, two justices of the High Court of Australia referred the decision on Pell's leave to appeal to a full court "for argument as on an appeal". A date for that hearing will be set later.
Pell's five-year term on the Council of Cardinal Advisers concluded in October 2018. In February 2019, the Holy See's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith initiated its own investigation of the charges against Pell, which could lead to Pell being defrocked. His five-year term as Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy concluded that same month.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Ecclesiastical career
- 3 Views
- 3.1 Theology and worship
- 3.2 Pope Benedict XVI
- 3.3 Political issues
- 3.4 Environmental positions
- 3.5 Interfaith issues
- 3.6 Sexuality, marriage and bioethics
- 4 Other roles
- 5 Handling of child sexual abuse cases by clergy while archbishop
- 5.1 Melbourne Response
- 5.2 2013 Victorian parliamentary inquiry
- 5.3 Response to historic allegations in Sydney
- 5.4 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
- 6 Accusations, charges, conviction and imprisonment for child sexual abuse
- 6.1 2002 allegation
- 6.2 Victoria Police investigations
- 6.3 Criminal charges, conviction and appeal
- 7 Writings
- 8 Distinctions
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Early life and education
Pell was born on 8 June 1941 in Ballarat, Victoria, to George Arthur and Margaret Lillian (née Burke) Pell. His father was a non-practising Anglican whose ancestors were from Leicestershire in England; he was also a heavyweight boxing champion. His mother was a devout Catholic of Irish descent.:21 As a child, Pell underwent 24 operations to remove an abscess in his throat.:25
Pell attended Loreto Convent and St Patrick's College (from which he matriculated) in Ballarat. At St Patrick's, Pell played Australian rules football as a ruckman on the first XVIII from 1956 to 1959. He signed with the Richmond Football Club in 1959 and played for the club in the VFL reserves. However, his ambitions later turned to the priesthood. Speaking of his decision to become a priest, Pell once said, "To put it crudely, I feared and suspected and eventually became convinced that God wanted me to do His work, and I was never able to successfully escape that conviction.":34
In 1960, he began his studies for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, then located in Werribee.[a] Pell continued to play football and served as class prefect in his second and third years.:41–42 In 1963, he was assigned to continue his studies at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was ordained to the diaconate on 15 August 1966.
On 16 December 1966, Pell was ordained a priest by Cardinal Gregorio Pietro Agagianian at St. Peter's Basilica. He received a Licentiate of Sacred Theology degree from the Pontificia Università Urbaniana in 1967 and continued his studies at the University of Oxford where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in church history in 1971 with a thesis entitled "The exercise of authority in early Christianity from about 170 to about 270". During his studies at Oxford, he also served as a chaplain to Catholic students at Eton College.
In 1971, he returned to Australia and was assigned to serve as an assistant priest in Swan Hill, where he remained for two years. He then served at a parish in Ballarat East from 1973 to 1983, becoming administrator of the parish of Bungaree in 1984. In 1982, he earned a Master of Education degree from Monash University in Melbourne. During his tenure in Ballarat East and Bungaree, he also served as Episcopal Vicar for Education (1973–84), director of the Aquinas campus of the Institute of Catholic Education (1974–84) and principal of the Institute of Catholic Education (1981–84). He was also editor of Light, the newspaper of the Diocese of Ballarat, from 1979 to 1984.
Diocesan episcopal career
Pell was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne and titular Bishop of Scala on 30 March 1987. He received his episcopal consecration on 21 May 1987 from Archbishop Frank Little, with bishops Ronald Mulkearns and Joseph O'Connell serving as co-consecrators. He served as Bishop for the Southern Region of Melbourne (1987–1996). During this time, he was a parish priest in Mentone.
Pell was named seventh Archbishop of Melbourne on 16 July 1996, receiving the pallium from Pope John Paul II on 29 June 1997. He was later appointed eighth Archbishop of Sydney on 26 March 2001 and again received the pallium from John Paul on 29 June 2001.
Pell was a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 1990 to 1995 and a member from 2002. From 1990 to 2000 he was a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In April 2002, John Paul II named him President of the Vox Clara commission to advise the Congregation for Divine Worship on English translations of liturgical texts. On 21 December 2002 he was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family, having previously served as a consultor to the council. On 22 September 2012, Pell was appointed a member of the Congregation for Bishops.
As Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell maintained a high public profile on a wide range of issues, while retaining a strict adherence to Catholic orthodoxy; with some dispute over the issue of Catholics and "primacy of conscience".
In 2001, he argued: "We must not allow the situation to deteriorate as it had in Elijah's time, 850 years before Christ, where monotheism was nearly swamped by the aggressive paganism of the followers of Baal." In 2010, on reviewing the movie Avatar, he wrote: "Worship of the powerful forces of nature is half right, a primitive stage in the movement towards acknowledging the one: the single Transcendent God, above and beyond nature. It is a symptom of our age that Hollywood is pumping out this old-fashioned pagan propaganda."
On 28 September 2003, Pope John Paul II announced that he would appoint Pell and 28 others to the College of Cardinals. In the consistory of 21 October he was made cardinal priest of Santa Maria Domenica Mazzarello. With Pell as cardinal, Australia had for the first time, three cardinals eligible to participate in a papal election: Pell, Edward Bede Clancy, and Edward Idris Cassidy.
Pell was one of the electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI. He is reported to have served as an unauthorised "campaign manager" for Ratzinger. Pell was mentioned as a possible successor to Benedict XVI as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In February 2007, Pell instituted new guidelines for family members speaking at funerals. He said that, "on not a few occasions, inappropriate remarks glossing over the deceased's proclivities (drinking prowess, romantic conquests etc) or about the Church (attacking its moral teachings) have been made at funeral Masses." Under Pell's guidelines, the eulogy must never replace the celebrant's homily, which should focus on the scripture readings selected, God's compassion, and the resurrection of Jesus.
Pell lobbied for the successful Sydney bid to host the 2008 World Youth Day, which brought Benedict XVI on his first papal visit to Australia. The event drew approximately half a million young people from 200 countries and one million people came to see the Pope. On 19 July 2008, Benedict issued his first public apology to victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
In their 2010 Good Friday sermons, both Pell and his Anglican counterpart Archbishop Peter Jensen attacked atheism. Both men were also closely aligned on policy issues and Jensen launched Pell's biography.
On 18 September 2012, Pell was named by Benedict XVI to be one of the papally appointed Synod Fathers for the October 2012 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
Pell was the only cardinal from Oceania to take part in the 2013 papal conclave. At that conclave, he was thought to be organising votes on behalf of Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, the favourite candidate of the Italian cardinals.
Following his election, Pope Francis named Pell, the only cardinal available to represent Oceania, one of eight members to advise the Pope on how to reform of the Roman Curia. In December 2018, Pell and two others were removed from this role, with effect from late October 2018.
Secretariat for the Economy
In February 2014, Pell was appointed to be the first prefect of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy. In this role, Pell is responsible for the annual budget of the Holy See and the Vatican.
In July 2014 it was announced that Pell, with the consent of Pope Francis, had the Ordinary Section of Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) transferred to the Secretariat for the Economy and claimed that this was an important step to enable the Secretariat for the Economy to exercise its responsibilities of economic control and vigilance over the agencies of the Holy See. It was also announced that remaining staff of APSA would begin to focus exclusively on its role as a treasury for the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
Following the confirmation of the Institute for the Works of Religion's mission by the Pope on 7 April 2014 the IOR announced plans for the next stage of development. The Council of Cardinals, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Supervisory Commission of Cardinals and the current IOR Board of Superintendence have agreed that this plan will be carried out by a new executive team led by Jean-Baptiste de Franssu.
Pell was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 13 September 2014.
It was reported in November 2014 that the Secretariat for the Economy has distributed a new handbook to all Vatican offices outlining financial management policies that would go into effect on 1 January 2015. The manual was endorsed by the Council for the Economy and approved by the Pope in forma specifica. "The purpose of the manual is very simple", said Pell, "it brings Financial Management practices in line with international standards and will help all Entities and Administrations of the Holy See and the Vatican City State prepare financial reports in a consistent and transparent manner." The Secretariat for the Economy will provide training and support to the Vatican/Holy See offices to help implement the new policies.
In 2015, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio questioned the scope of the authority given to the Secretariat for the Economy and to Pell himself. These questions involved not the demand for transparency in all financial operations, but the consolidation of management under the Secretariat for the Economy.
On 12 December 2018, the Vatican announced that Pell was one of three "more elderly" cardinals who were to leave the Pope's Council of Cardinal Advisers after a five-year term. The three were also thanked by the Pope for their service. On 26 February 2019, the Vatican announced that Pell's five-year term as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy had expired on 24 February.
Health in later life
In January 2010, Pell experienced cardiac problems during his Vatican visit, and in February had a pacemaker fitted in a Rome hospital.
In 2015, Pell's doctors judged his heart condition serious enough to prevent air travel from Italy to Australia to appear before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He was expected to be well enough to travel in February 2016. However, he was excused from giving evidence in person by commission chair Justice Peter McClennan, based on a two-page medical report submitted by Pell's lawyers. Pell testified from a hotel in Rome through a video link up.
In December 2018, Pell was granted bail during his criminal trial to undergo knee surgery and has since walked with the aid of a cane.
An assessment was made of his mental and physical health when he was taken into custody following his conviction. He was assessed healthy enough to be kept in Melbourne Assessment Prison for the time being.
In the Australian context, Pell is regarded as progressive on many social issues but a conservative on matters of faith and morals. He has often been wary of what he calls the "callousness" of unrestrained capitalism. He has written that a Catholic is someone who is not only a person of personal conscience but "is someone who believes Christ is Son of God, accepts His teachings and lives a life of worship, service and duty in the community. Catholics are not created by the accident of birth to remain only because their tribe has an interesting history."
Theology and worship
Ad orientem liturgy
In 2009 Pell supported, in the abstract but not as a proposal for immediate application, mandatory celebration of the Canon of the Mass with the orientation of the priest ad orientem, facing in the same direction as the congregation. "There's nothing like a consensus in favour of that at the moment", he said. "I think I would be in favour of it because it makes it patently clear that the priest is not the centre of the show, that this is an act of worship of the one true God, and the people are joining with the priest for that."
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve are terms – what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world.
Ordination of women and priestly celibacy
In 2005 Pell supported the view that the ordination of women as priests is impossible according to the church's divine constitution and said that abandoning the tradition of clerical celibacy would be a "serious blunder".
Pope Benedict XVI
Pell said that the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to retire in 2013 could set a precedent which may be a problem for future leaders. He thought Benedict's decision to step down had destabilised the church and some of those surrounding the Pope had failed to support him in his ministry. "He was well aware that this is a break with tradition [and] slightly destabilising", Pell said. According to him, the Pope was a better theologian than he was a leader.
In response to the claim that he had criticised Benedict XVI, Pell confirmed he was stating what the Pope already mentioned himself, and his comments were "not breaking any ground". During a youth conference in Parramatta, Bishop Anthony Fisher confirmed that Pell was merely "stating the pros and cons of the Pope's decision" and those who claimed his comments were critical were taking him out of context.
Asylum seekers and refugees
Pell has criticised the bipartisan policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers in Australia and called for "empathy and compassion" towards displaced peoples. Pell said that while a policy of deterrence was justifiable, the practice of the policy was coming at too great a "moral cost". Describing conditions in some of Australia's mandatory detention camps in 2001 as "pretty tight and miserable" and "no place for women and children", Pell called for investigation of any maltreatment of detainees and said that, while Australia has the right to regulate the number of refugees it accepts, as a rich and prosperous country, it can "afford to be generous" and must treat humanely those refugees who reach Australia.
Pell is a climate change denier. In a 2006 speech he said that "hysterical and extreme claims" about the natural environment were the result of the "pagan emptiness" of Western culture. He said: "In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions."
In a 2007 article for the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, Pell wrote that while climate had changed, he was "certainly sceptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes, because the evidence is insufficient".
Responding to the Anglican bishop and environmentalist George Browning, who told the Anglican Church of Australia's general synod that Pell was out of touch with the Catholic Church as well as with the general community, Pell stated:
Radical environmentalists are more than up to the task of moralising their own agenda and imposing it on people through fear. They don't need church leaders to help them with this, although it is a very effective way of further muting Christian witness. Church leaders in particular should be allergic to nonsense ... I am certainly sceptical about extravagant claims of impending man-made climatic catastrophes. Uncertainties on climate change abound ... my task as a Christian leader is to engage with reality, to contribute to debate on important issues, to open people's minds, and to point out when the emperor is wearing few or no clothes.
It’s got many, many interesting elements. There are parts of it which are beautiful. But the church has no particular expertise in science ... the church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science.
Pell has written of a need to "deepen friendship and understanding" with Muslims in the post–September 11 environment and has said that though there is a continuing struggle throughout the Muslim world between moderates and men of violence, he believes that, in Australia, "the moderates are in control".
In 2004, speaking to the Acton Institute on the problems of "secular democracy", Pell drew a parallel between Islam and communism: "Islam may provide in the 21st century, the attraction that communism provided in the 20th, both for those that are alienated and embittered on the one hand and for those who seek order or justice on the other."
In February 2006, addressing Catholic business leaders in Naples, Florida, Pell stated: "Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited." He doubted that Islam possesses the capacity for theological development because "In the Muslim understanding, the Koran comes directly from God, unmediated. The Bible, in contrast, is a product of human co-operation with divine inspiration."
In 2012 and 2013, Pell hosted Iftar dinners to mark the end of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan. The Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Pell on behalf of Muslims for hosting the dinner. Pell said during the 2012 dinner that such gatherings are one of the fruits of tolerance that flourishes in Australian society and is a sign of respect for diversity, stating:
We are all called to be instruments of peace and harmony among aggressors and those who practice terrorism although we worship the one God in different ways... We gather united in our plans for respect and friendship.
Pell has participated in many interfaith dialogues and celebrations involving Jewish people. In 2001, he told one such audience at Mandelbaum House that he had come from a strongly pro-Jewish family and of being saddened during his studies of history to find Christian ill-treatment of Jews. Pell spoke of the need to remember the Holocaust and of his visits to concentration camps and of his support for the right of the state of Israel to exist. He praised the role of Vatican II and of Pope John Paul II in advancing the cause of Christian-Jewish dialogue and co-operation. Pell also spoke in praise of the Jewish psalms as "a body of prayerful literature" unequalled in any other tradition and singled out the Jewish prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel as authors for whom he has a deep love and Elijah as one whom he views as highly significant. Pell called on Christian and Jewish leaders alike to speak together and respectfully listen to each other, saying of the Christian-Jewish relationship:
During the last 30 or 40 years there has been a significant reduction in the amount of Christian anti-Semitism. We thank God for that. To adapt to our circumstances the word of Martin Luther King "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly". Our fortunes, as brothers, are inextricably linked.
During a 2012 televised panel discussion including himself and Richard Dawkins on the Australian TV program Q&A, Pell stated that he had "a great admiration for the Jews" and repeatedly condemned Adolf Hitler. During the course of the discussion, ABC moderator Tony Jones sought to infer anti-Semitism in Pell's remarks regarding the relative intellectual development of ancient Jewish society with that of great powers like Egypt, as well as in Pell's comment that Germany was punished for its role in the Second World War.
In responding to a series of questions by Jones as to why God would "randomly decide to provide proof of his existence to a small group of Jews 2,000 years ago", Pell said that, while the intellectual life of the ancient Jews was not the equal of the surrounding great powers like Egypt, Persia and Chaldea, "Jesus came not as a philosopher to the elite. He came to the poor and the battlers". Jones cross examined Pell over his use of the word "intellectual" and Pell said (in reference to Biblical times) that "the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck. They're still stuck between these great powers."
- Pell: That's a mighty question. He helped probably through secondary causes for the Jews to escape and continue. It is interesting through these secondary causes probably no people in history have been punished the way the Germans were. It is a terrible mystery.
- Moderator: There would be a very strong argument saying that the Jews of Europe suffered worse than the Germans.
- Pell: Yes, that might be right. Certainly the suffering in both I mean the Jews there was no reason why they should suffer.
Pell's remarks were widely misreported and misinterpreted, leading to a clarification from his office – reported by The Times of Israel as an apology. Pell said, "My commitment to friendship with the Jewish community, and my esteem for the Jewish faith is a matter of public record, and the last thing I would want to do is give offence to either" and that the Holocaust was "a crime unique in history for the death and suffering it caused and its diabolical attempt to wipe out an entire people."
Sexuality, marriage and bioethics
Pell has received much attention for his attitudes to sexuality issues, particularly homosexuality. When installed as Archbishop of Sydney in May 2001, he said that "Christian teaching on sexuality is only one part of the Ten Commandments, of the virtues and vices, but it is essential for human wellbeing and especially for the proper flourishing of marriages and families, for the continuity of the human race."
Pell says that, outside exceptional circumstances such as relationships involving physical abuse, it is better for individuals and for society if couples do not divorce, particularly where children are involved.
In 2001, ABC radio's The World Today reported that Pell wanted a return to a divorce system based on the fault of one spouse. Pell told the program that, in an effort to "focus attention on the damage, personal and financial, that unfortunately often follows from divorce" he had prepared a list for public consideration of possible penalties to discourage divorce (particularly where fault by one party was involved); as well as benefits to support couples who stayed together.
In 1990, Pell stated publicly that while he recognised that homosexuality existed, such activity was nevertheless wrong and "for the good of society it should not be encouraged." He has also expressed his belief that suicide linked to homophobia was a valid reason to discourage recognition of a gay identity, arguing that "Homosexual activity is a much greater health hazard than smoking."
In 1998, Pell refused communion to members of the Rainbow Sash Movement who had attended Mass at the cathedral in Melbourne. He publicly rebuked their actions to the applause of other parishioners.
Pell opposed Australian legislation in 2006 that would have permitted gay couples to adopt children. In 2007, he said that discrimination against people who are gay was not comparable to that against racial minorities.
In 2009, Pell supported the comments made by Pope Benedict XVI in Africa in relation to controlling the spread of AIDS, in which the Pope reiterated the Catholic teaching that the solution to the AIDS epidemic lay not in the distribution of condoms, but in the practice of sexual abstinence and monogamy within marriage. The Pope said that AIDS could not be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which "can even increase the problem". In response to global coverage of these remarks, Pell said that AIDS was a "great spiritual and health crisis" and a huge challenge, but that "Condoms are encouraging promiscuity. They are encouraging irresponsibility."
The idea that you can solve a great spiritual and health crisis like AIDS with a few mechanical contraptions like condoms is ridiculous. If you look at the Philippines you'll see the incidence of AIDS is much lower than it is in Thailand, which is awash with condoms. There are condoms everywhere and the rate of infection is enormous.
The president of the AIDS Council of New South Wales, Marc Orr, said Pell's comments were "irresponsible" and "contradicted all evidence" that condoms reduced the transmission of HIV: Mike Toole (Burnet Institute) and Rob Moodie (Nossal Institute for Global Health) wrote in The Age that Pell had said a health worker from an African country told him that "people in remote areas are too poor to afford condoms and the ones that are available are often of very poor quality and weren't used effectively". Both professors argue that "this is not an argument against promoting condoms – it is an argument that we need to ensure that good quality condoms are affordable for everyone and are widely distributed with information about how to use them effectively" and concluded "the sexual abstinence message is clearly not working."
In 2010, Benedict told an interviewer that while the church did not consider condoms as a "real or moral solution", there were times where the "intention of reducing the risk of infection" made condom use "a first step" towards a better way. Pell released a statement saying this did not signal a major new shift in Vatican thinking.
Stem cell research
Pell supports research on the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells but opposes embryonic stem cell research on the basis that the church cannot support anything which involves "the destruction of human life at any stage after conception". Under Pell, the Sydney archdiocese has provided funding for adult stem cell research but has actively opposed moves by the Parliament of New South Wales to liberalise laws pertaining to use of embryonic stem cells.
Following a conscience vote in the Parliament of New South Wales overturning a ban on therapeutic cloning, in June 2007 Pell said that "Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realise that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church.":133 Some members of parliament, including ministers such as Kristina Keneally and Nathan Rees, condemned Pell's comments, calling them hypocritical; Rees drew comparisons with comments made earlier in the year by Sheik Hilali. Australian Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon referred Pell's remarks to the New South Wales parliamentary privileges committee for allegedly being in contempt of parliament. Pell described this move as a "clumsy attempt to curb religious freedom and freedom of speech". In September the committee tabled a report clearing him of this charge and recommending that no further action be taken.
The legal scholar and theologian Cathleen Kaveny wrote that "In every possible respect, Pell's statement backfired" as, following backlash from elected officials and the general public, the bill passed the lower house with what she describes as "an overwhelming 65–26 vote" and passed the upper house with a 27–13 vote.:133–134
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney takes the role of visitor of St John's College, a residential college within the University of Sydney. This is a largely ceremonial role but he can also be called upon to give guidance and resolve internal disputes. Under the direction of the archbishop the college associates itself with the interests of the church and its mission, particularly by the fostering of appropriate academic directions in education, charity, social justice, ethics and the environment.
Pell accepted the invitation to be patron of the Oxford University Newman Society and to deliver their inaugural St Thomas More Lecture on 6 March 2009. Pell was a contributor of articles for the Australian media, including regular columns for Sydney's The Sunday Telegraph newspaper. He is a former Fellow of the Australian College of Educators.
Handling of child sexual abuse cases by clergy while archbishop
Pell's tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne began when the issue of handling of child sex abuse allegations by institutions was coming to the fore in public debate. Launching the Melbourne Response protocol in 1996, Pell said: "It's a matter of regret that the Catholic Church has taken some time to come to grips with the sex abuse issue adequately." In his final sermon as Archbishop of Sydney in 2014 before departing Australia for Rome, Pell told the congregation "I apologise once again to the victims and their families for the terrible suffering that has been brought to bear by these crimes". He said procedural improvements could still be made to the church's efforts against child sexual abuse, and then he added that he "looked forward" to the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which he said was providing a "public service" in allowing victims to air their experiences. His choice of words drew wide criticism as they were perceived as being inappropriately blithe and unempathetic to the victims of the child sexual abuse.
Shortly after becoming Archbishop of Melbourne in August 1996, Pell discussed the issue of child abuse with the Victorian premier, governor and retired judge Richard McGarvie, who all recommended swift action. He engaged the law firm Corrs to draft a scheme which would be funded by but operate independently of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.:29–30 A public forum was held on 19 October, and the resulting "Melbourne Response" was announced on 30 October 1996.:30–31:29, 31 Victims were publicly encouraged to come forward. Pell's Melbourne-specific policy preceded the national church response, known as "Towards Healing", which the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference approved in November and took effect in March 1997. When Pell was appointed a Cardinal in 2003, the ABC noted that he had established Australia's first independent commissioner to handle child sexual abuse complaints against clergy.
The Melbourne Response was the subject of Case Study 16 in the 2013–2017 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and was also examined in the 2013 Victorian government Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations. Pell was called to testify at both inquiries. In 2017, the Royal Commission reported that the Melbourne Response was "widely criticised as being legalistic and offering inadequate support to victims". According to the royal commission, the Melbourne Response set its goals as "truth, humility, healing for the victims, assistance to other persons affected, an adequate response to those accused and to offenders and the prevention of any such offences in the future".:32 Its key features were the appointment of Independent Commissioners to inquire into allegations and make recommendations; a counselling and support service (Carelink); and the establishment of a Compensation Panel to advise on making "ex-gratia" payments to victims of child sexual abuse. The ex gratia payments are made without the church recognising any liability to victims and were initially capped at $50,000. It was increased to $55,000 in 2000 and to $75,000 in 2008. Peter O'Callaghan was appointed the first Independent Commissioner. He went on to investigate 351 complaints of child sexual abuse, and upheld 97% of those.:6
2013 Victorian parliamentary inquiry
On 27 May 2013, Pell gave evidence before Victoria's Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations. Pell told the inquiry that he was "fully apologetic and absolutely sorry". The parliamentarians questioned Pell over allegations from the parents of a victim that he had not shown them empathy. Pell said he had in fact fully understood the suffering. He agreed with the inquiry that his predecessor had "covered up" matters for fear of scandal. Pell was heckled from the gallery.
Pell critic David Marr wrote that "He [Pell] admitted his church had covered up child sexual abuse for fear of scandal; that his predecessor Archbishop Little had destroyed records, moved paedophile priests from parish to parish and facilitated appalling crimes."
During the course of the inquiry, a victim of a paedophile Christian Brother at St Alipius Primary School claimed that in 1969 Pell heard him pleading for help a few weeks after he had been raped. Pell denied the claim, which was later discredited when Pell produced his passport to confirm that he was not living in Australia that year.
Response to historic allegations in Sydney
During Pell's time as Archbishop of Sydney, allegations of child sexual abuse were made against around 55 priests in the archdiocese. These were largely related to incidents that occurred prior to his arrival as archbishop. The allegations resulted in just under $8 million in reparation payments.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
In late 2012, the Australian federal government established a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Pell welcomed the inquiry and said "We think this is an opportunity to help the victims, it's an opportunity to clear the air and separate fact from fiction." He said there had been a persistent "press campaign against the Catholic Church". The commission conducted hearings between 2013 and 2017. Pell gave evidence on three occasions to the royal commission, beginning in March 2014 in Sydney and via video link from the Vatican in August 2014 and in February/March 2016.
In his 2012 Christmas address Pell said he felt "shock and shame" at revelations of crime and wrongdoing that were completely contrary to Christ’s teaching. Pell called the crimes and wrongdoings "disasters". He said he was "deeply sorry this has happened" and told his listeners to "help those who have been hurt".
Comments upholding the Seal of Confession
The announcement of the royal commission was accompanied by calls from some quarters for relaxing the requirement of confidentiality in confessions, which has been upheld by the Catholic Church since the fifth century. It is protected under Australian law in such statutes as the Evidence Act 1995 (which also provides protections for lawyers, journalists and spouses). When Pell was asked whether he thought that a priest who hears the confession of someone who has committed child sex abuse must remain bound by the Seal of Confession, he replied:
If that is done outside the confessional (it can be reported to the police) ... (But) the Seal of Confession is inviolable. If the priest knows beforehand about such a situation, the priest should refuse to hear the confession... That would be my advice, and I would never hear the confession of a priest who is suspected of such a thing.
A number of criticisms of Pell's conduct and manner towards victims and perpetrators have been aired in the Australian media and considered at the royal commission. His appearances before the royal commission were met with intense public interest in Australia. He was heckled from the public galleries. Pell has complained of unfair treatment from the media and "relentless character assassination".
An SBS article by Debi Marshall included suggestions Pell had ignored accounts of physical and child sexual abuse and covered up such abuse. Marshall raised the allegation that Pell had attempted to "bribe" a victim. However, Pell was cross-examined by Counsel Assisting Gail Furness over the widely publicised claim that in 1993, he attempted to bribe David Ridsdale into silence, when David Ridsdale called him about the historical misconduct of his paedophile-priest uncle Gerald Ridsdale. In her final submission, Furness conceded that the allegation was unlikely to be an accurate interpretation of Pell's intent, as it was already known that Gerald Ridsdale was under investigation by police, and David Ridsdale was requesting a private process and not suggesting he wanted to go to police.
The royal commission also considered evidence of Pell's "knowledge of rumours, allegations or complaints of Dowlan's sexual abuse of children in Ballarat", also raised in Marshall's article. One witness said he had gone to "Pell's presbytery" in Ballarat to warn him about Dowlan. Pell submitted evidence that he did not live in Ballarat or in that presbytery at the time, and the counsel-assisting noted in her final submission that "Cardinal Pell's evidence about his living arrangements and duties in 1973 and 1974 make it less likely that he was at St Patrick's presbytery late in the afternoon on a week day."
March 2014 appearance
In 2014, the royal commission was told how lawyers representing Pell and the Archdiocese of Sydney incurred costs of A$1.5 million against a victim of child sexual abuse. The lawyers, acting on the church's instructions, "vigorously" fought John Ellis through the courts despite warnings of his "fragile psychological state". The resulting New South Wales Court of Appeal ruling established the controversial "Ellis Defence", which confirmed that the church could not be sued as a legal entity and held liable for child sexual abuse committed by a priest in such matters. Eventually, Ellis received $568,000 from the church. In a statement to the royal commission in March 2014, Pell reversed his earlier stance in support of the defence, saying: "My own view is that the Church in Australia should be able to be sued in cases of this kind."
In his 2014 appearance, Pell used an analogy of a trucking company: "If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don't think it's appropriate, because it is contrary to the policy, for the ownership, the leadership of that company to be held responsible." He was widely criticised for this remark. The president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Cathy Kezelman, called his comments "outrageous", saying that they denied the experience of victims. Nicky Davis, from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said that Pell had made a "highly offensive" comparison. Michael Bradley, writing in his weekly column for ABC News, said "Yes, it was mind-blowingly insensitive to draw that analogy and to so blithely refer to 'some lady'. But there was a much bigger hole. In the world according to Pell, if the Catholic Church has a policy that tells its priests not to rape children then, if they still do so, the Church cannot be held accountable."
Appearing before the royal commission in February and March 2016 by video link from a hotel in Rome, unable to travel to Australia due to his heart condition, Pell gave evidence in front of 15 victims of child sexual abuse who had travelled from Australia to Rome to witness his testimony. Having sworn on the Bible, Pell stated that he did not think the problems with child sexual abuse were with the institutional structure of the Catholic Church. "The Church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those", he said. "The Church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has let people down. I'm not here to defend the indefensible." Counsel assisting the royal commission alleged that there were also wider problems with the church's hierarchy in Australia and Rome and beyond, which they thought he understated or sidestepped. Regarding the allegations of children, he said that "the predisposition was not to believe" and that the instinct was to protect the church. He continued, saying, "Too many of them certainly were dismissed and sometimes they were dismissed in absolutely scandalous circumstances ... They were very, very, very plausible allegations made by responsible people that were not followed up sufficiently."
Pell also stated that the way Gerald Ridsdale was dealt with was "a catastrophe for the victims and a catastrophe for the church". But referring to rumours of child sexual abuse per se, "in those days", he said, "if a priest denied such activity, I was very strongly inclined to accept the denial".
Following Pell's inability to travel in 2016, a GoFundMe campaign entitled "Send Ballarat Survivors to Rome" was launched to enable 15 victims of child sexual abuse to travel to Rome and see him give evidence in person. It reached its target of A$55,000 in one day, doubled that the following day and trebled it the day after. The musician Tim Minchin released the song "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)", with all proceeds to go to the GoFundMe campaign. The song described Pell as "scum" and a "coward". Uploaded to YouTube, within 24 hours it had over 400,000 views and reached the number one position on the iTunes song chart in Australia.
In June 2016 the Holy See Press Office director Federico Lombardi announced that Pell would continue in his role as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, despite being obliged to submit his resignation on turning 75. Lombardi reminded reporters that Pope Francis had previously expressed his full confidence in Pell, and that Francis wished him to continue as prefect.
Pell served as an assistant priest at St Alipius' Church in Ballarat East and, in 1973, shared a house with Gerald Ridsdale, a priest who was later laicised and jailed for child sex crimes. Ridsdale was convicted between 1993 and 2017 of a very large number of child sexual abuse and indecent assault charges against children aged as young as four years during the 1970s and 1980s, the total number of known victims standing at 79, but that is thought to be a small proportion of his victims. Pell was part of a leadership group of Catholic priests in the Diocese of Ballarat that met during 1982 and discussed moving Ridsdale from the parish at Mortlake and sending him to Sydney. Pell denied knowing about any of Ridsdale's actions. Journalist and former priest Paul Bongiorno, who also lived in a presbytery with Ridsdale told ABC radio that Ridsdale concealed his activities: "They hide it. It was certainly hidden from me. And when it came out, after I’d left the priesthood, I was shocked and I was ashamed."
In March 2016, when asked by the Royal Commission why he had agreed to walk Ridsdale into the courthouse in Melbourne during his 1993 criminal trial, Pell responded, "I had some status as an auxiliary bishop and I was asked to appear with the ambition that this would lessen the term of punishment, lessen his time in jail." Peter Saunders, the victims' advocate and a former Catholic priest, said that this Pell response "demonstrates once again the callousness, the coldheartedness and the contempt that George Pell appears to display for this whole issue and particularly for the victims of these dreadful crimes."
In 2002 on 60 Minutes, Pell was accused by David Ridsdale, a victim of child sex abuse in Ballarat and the nephew of Gerald Ridsdale, of attempting to bribe him in 1993 in order to prevent child sexual abuse being made public. The allegation was examined at the royal commission and received further wide publicity. However, Counsel-Assisting Gail Furness conceded in her final submission to the royal commission that, given it was already known to Pell that Gerald Ridsdale was subject to police investigation, and David Ridsdale had requested a "private" rather than police process "it is not likely that Bishop Pell would then have thought it necessary to offer Mr Ridsdale an inducement to prevent him from going to the police or public with his allegations", and Ridsdale could have "misinterpreted Bishop Pell's offer of assistance".
Accusations, charges, conviction and imprisonment for child sexual abuse
In June 2002, Pell was accused by a Melbourne man of having sexually abused a 12-year-old boy at a Catholic youth camp in 1961, when he was a young seminarian. Pell denied the accusations and stood aside while the inquiry continued. The complainant agreed to pursue his allegations through the church's own process for dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct, the National Committee for Professional Standards. Retired Victorian Supreme Court Justice Alec Southwell, appointed commissioner by the church to investigate the matter, found that the complainant, despite his long criminal record, had mostly given the impression of "speaking honestly from actual recollection" but concluded as follows: "bearing in mind the forensic difficulties of the defence occasioned by the very long delay, some valid criticism of the complainant's credibility, the lack of corroborative evidence and the sworn denial of the respondent, I find I am not 'satisfied that the complaint has been established'". Pell said he had been exonerated, while the complainant's solicitor said his client had been vindicated.
Victoria Police investigations
In March 2013, Victoria Police launched "Operation Tethering", to investigate whether Pell had committed unreported crimes. On 20 February 2016, the Herald Sun newspaper reported that Pell had been under investigation for the past year by detectives from the Victoria Police SANO Taskforce over sexual abuse allegations involving between five and ten boys that occurred between 1978 and 2001 when he was a priest in Ballarat and when he was archbishop of Melbourne. His office issued a public statement denying the allegations calling them "utterly false" and asked for an inquiry into the leaking of information by Victoria Police officers to the media. Victoria Police remained silent on whether Pell was being investigated. The SANO Taskforce was established in 2012 to investigate allegations arising from the Victorian Government Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations and the subsequent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
On 28 July 2016, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton, confirmed that there was an investigation into alleged child sexual abuse by Pell following a report by the ABC's 7.30 program the previous day and stated that he was awaiting advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). On 17 August 2016, Victoria Police confirmed a response had been received from the DPP, but would not disclose the DPP's recommendations.
In October 2016, three Victoria Police officers from the SANO Task Force flew to Rome to interview Pell, who voluntarily participated, regarding allegations of sexual assault. In February 2017, Victoria Police advised that the brief of evidence against Pell for sexual assault allegations had been returned to the Office of Public Prosecutions for review with advice subsequently provided to Victoria Police in May 2017.
Criminal charges, conviction and appeal
Initial charges and hearings
On 29 June 2017, Victoria Police announced they were charging Pell with a series of sexual assault offences with several counts and several victims. At a press conference in Rome, Pell stated that he would return to Australia and was looking forward, finally, to having my day in court" and claimed "I'm innocent of those charges. They are false". On 10 July 2017, Pell left the Vatican and returned to Australia to face trial. Details of the charges were not made public, however a series of hearings and two trials later dismissed all but one of the cases brought against Pell.
On 26 July 2017, whilst not required to attend in person, he appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court for a filing hearing represented by barrister Robert Richter; and, although not required at this stage of the court committal process, he entered a plea of not guilty. An application by the media seeking the public disclosure of the details of the charges was refused by the magistrate. At a procedural hearing on 22 November 2017, Pell's lawyers requested documents from ABC News journalist Louise Milligan and Melbourne University Press relating to Milligan's book Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell which was published in early 2017.
In January 2018, accuser Damian Dignan died after a long illness. Former chief Victorian magistrate Nicholas Papas said that Dignan's death would affect the structure of Pell's court case [the "pool trial"], and stated that in a case of historical child sexual abuse it can "seriously affect the case" due to a lack of witnesses. That charge was withdrawn on the Friday before the committal hearing was due to begin. Pell's lawyers requested and were denied the personal medical information of the complainants. Pell's defence was reported to be based on questioning the timing of allegations. Some other charges were dropped after a complainant was ruled medically unfit to give evidence.
In May 2018, Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled there was enough evidence to commit Pell to stand trial on about half of the offences, but she dismissed allegations that he had committed offences at a cinema and chapel in Ballarat in the 1970s in the context of a "fundamental defect in the evidence". She permitted remaining unrelated allegations to proceed to trial: the "pool trial" and the "cathedral trial".
The committal hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to commit him to stand trial commenced on 5 March 2018. The committal hearing allowed for approximately fifty witnesses to give evidence, including former choirboys. The magistrate allowed Pell's barrister to cross-examine all but five witnesses. As a result, the hearing was scheduled to allow for four weeks of testimony and cross-examination. Pell's barrister said the matter would go to trial and that some of the allegations, those involving St Patrick's Cathedral, were impossible.
On 1 May 2018, Pell was committed to stand trial on several historical sexual offence charges. Magistrate Belinda Wallington concluded that there was enough evidence for the case to proceed on about half of the charges. Allegations that Pell committed sexual assault in a Ballarat cinema during the screening of a film were among the charges dismissed. Pell entered pleas of not guilty to the remaining charges. As a bail condition, Pell surrendered his Vatican passport and was not permitted to leave Australia.
On 2 May 2018, Pell appeared in the County Court of Victoria for a directions hearing before Judge Sue Pullen, and it was agreed that he would undergo two separate trials with two separate juries and that the charges would be heard separately for each trial. He was to be tried in relation to allegations of sexual offences taking place at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, in 1990 in the first case, and in relation to further allegations taking place at a Ballarat swimming pool in the 1970s in the second case. The Catholic Weekly, a publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, advertised seeking donations for Pell's legal fund and wrote an article promoting the appeal for funding. It is unknown who was responsible for the advertising or the donation drive. Prosecutors sought a media ban on reporting of proceedings until the beginning of a final trial, including suppression of reporting an initial trial and no further reporting on earlier trials until completion of the final one. A suppression order was subsequently issued by Judge Peter Kidd. The purpose of the order was to avoid biasing potential jurors against Pell in a future criminal trial. The suppression order was lifted after the second trial, relating to alleged incidents at the Ballarat swimming pool, was cancelled due to issues with evidence. An alleged victim intends to launch a claim for damages against Pell and other parties.
Pell's first trial for the allegations of misconduct in St Patrick's Cathedral began in August 2018 under Judge Peter Kidd. However, it ended with the jury unable to reach the unanimous verdict. This necessitated a retrial with a replacement jury. A retrial was conducted, again under Judge Kidd. On 11 December 2018, Pell was convicted on five counts of child sexual abuse of two boys in the 1990s.
Pell's legal team lodged an appeal against his conviction. His bail was revoked on 27 February 2019, and he was taken into custody at Melbourne Assessment Prison. The sentencing hearing on 13 March 2019 was broadcast live to the public, with Chief Judge Peter Kidd sentencing Pell to serve six years in jail with a non-parole period of three years and eight months. Pell was also registered as a sex offender. On 27 May, Andre Awadalla, a spokesman for the Court of Appeal in Victoria, had told Australian Associated Press that the appeal application would not include an appeal for a reduced sentence if his conviction were to be upheld.
In his preliminary remarks during sentencing, Justice Kidd noted examples of a "witch-hunt" or "lynch mob" mentality in relation to Cardinal Pell during the lead-up to his conviction. Describing the nature of the conviction, Kidd noted "the offending which the jury has found you have engaged in, was on any view, breathtakingly arrogant. These are all reasonable inferences available once it is assumed, as I must, that this offending actually occurred." After an assessment of the impact on victims, including the gravity of the offences, the age of the defendant (including his health), and "otherwise good character" and "blameless life" of Pell, Justice Kidd sentence him to a total effective sentence of six years' imprisonment.
Suppression of reporting
Because the "Pool allegations" were yet to face court, Australian media outlets were barred from reporting the conviction of Pell in the "cathedral trial", in case the jury were prejudiced. International news sources reported the conviction at the time, but the suppression order was generally respected by the Australian media. The Melbourne-based Herald Sun posted on its front page "CENSORED" in large print in protest of the ban, noting that international sources were reporting on a "very important story that is relevant to Victorians". In a statement made to The Washington Post, Noah Shachtman, editor-in-chief of the online news magazine The Daily Beast, consulted with American and Australian lawyers, but ultimately considered it an "easy call" to report on the conviction, though he did place geo-blocking restrictions to prevent online access to the story from Australia. News of Pell's conviction was published in Australia on 26 February 2019 when the suppression order was lifted. On 26 March 2019, Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions named 36 media outlets, journalists and broadcasters in the Supreme Court and applied that they be found guilty, convicted and either imprisoned or fined for breaching the suppression order. International media did not face charges.
The "pool trial" : Prosecution withdraws its case
At the time of Pell's conviction in the "cathedral trial", a second trial was pending regarding unrelated allegations that he sexually assaulted two boys while throwing them in the air in a Ballarat swimming pool in the late 1970s. These allegations had been raised by the ABC, leading to a Victoria Police Investigation; however, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges after a judge disallowed the prosecution's submission of evidence from complainants on the grounds that each piece of evidence was not sufficient.
Appeals against conviction
Pell continued to protest his innocence after his conviction in the "cathedral trial". The court heard pleadings for Pell being granted leave to appeal simultaneously with the appeal itself on 5–6 June 2019. Pell was represented by Bret Walker SC. Three grounds of appeal were lodged: that the verdict was unreasonable, that permission to use in their closing address a visual aid prepared by the defence that illustrated the locations of people within the cathedral around the time of the first assault had been refused, and that Pell had not been arraigned in the presence of the jury as is required under standard criminal procedures in Victoria. Judgement was reserved, without setting a date to deliver the decision. Pell remained in prison until then. On 10 August 2019, a Victorian Department of Justice spokeswoman said that Pell could face disciplinary action after a letter he apparently wrote from prison was posted on a Twitter account called "Cardinal George Pell Supporters"; the Victorian government bans prisoners from using social media or asking others to post on their behalf.
On 21 August 2019, the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria issued its ruling, which upheld the conviction. The three-judge panel comprised Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg. On the first ground of appeal, that the verdict was unreasonable, the court granted leave to appeal but dismissed the appeal by a majority (2–1) decision. Chief Justice Ferguson and Justice Maxwell dismissed the appeal. Ferguson stated that, for the appeal to succeed, the court needed to find that the jury must have had doubt as to the defendant's guilt, not merely that they could have had doubt. Justice Weinberg issued a dissenting judgement and would have allowed the appeal on the first ground.
Whilst Chief Justice Ferguson and Justice Maxwell stated that they "did not experience a doubt" in the case, the dissenting Judge Weinberg likened the case to that of Lindy Chamberlain, which had seen wrongful conviction by a jury and appeal court based on faulty evidence: Weinberg wrote that "there is, to my mind, a 'significant possibility' that the applicant in this case may not have committed these offences. That means that, in my respectful opinion, these convictions cannot be permitted to stand. The only order that can properly be made is that the applicant be acquitted on each charge."
The court unanimously refused leave to appeal on the second and third grounds. In relation to the second ground, Chief Justice Ferguson described the visual aid that Pell's lawyer sought to present in his closing address as tendentious, as potentially misleading or confusing and as including material that was unsupported by evidence in the trial record. The court ruled that the trial judge had been correct to exclude it. In relation to the third ground, the court ruled that the requirement for the jury to be present during arraignment did not require physical presence and that presence via video link (as was the case here) was adequate to satisfy this requirement.
On 17 September, Pell sought special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia, the final court of appeal in Australia. On 13 November, two justices of the High Court referred the decision on leave to appeal to a full court "for argument as on an appeal". A date for that hearing will be set later.
Divided opinion and public reception
Pell's trial and conviction divided public opinion in Australia. The Jesuit human rights lawyer Frank Brennan, a long-time Catholic critic of Pell, wrote following his conviction: "I was very surprised by the verdict. In fact, I was devastated ... The jurors must have judged the complainant to be honest and reliable even though many of the details he gave were improbable if not impossible."
Following Pell's conviction, The Australian's Paul Kelly wrote that "calculated media assaults on Pell" had been "spearheaded by the ABC", contributing to an intense and unjustified public hatred of him and prejudicial environment in which to conduct a trial. The Age's crime reporter John Silvester outlined his concerns at the conviction: "George Pell is a polarising figure, which is perhaps why there are now two warring camps – those who want him to be guilty of historical sex offences against two choirboys and those who don't ... [He] was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness, without forensic evidence, a pattern of behaviour or a confession ... If Pell did molest those two teenagers in the busy cathedral, it certainly does not fit the usual pattern of priests ... although he had access to hundreds of boys over his career he did not groom the vulnerable. Instead he attacked two he did not know in broad daylight in a near public area." The majority judges had written "It may not be entirely correct to say that A’s evidence was uncorroborated. To an extent his evidence was supported by reference to knowledge that he possessed which he could not have come by unless he was telling the truth."
Following Pell's failed appeal to the Victorian Court of Appeal, SBS reported that people outside of Victoria's Supreme Court cheered and "abuse survivors and victims' advocates say justice has been done" while "one supporter of Pell was shouted down". The ABC's Louise Milligan congratulated the majority judges, and wrote for the ABC "As the only journalist who has met J [Pell's accuser] and other complainants against George Pell, and who wrote about these allegations in my book, Cardinal, The Rise and Fall of George Pell... I have never had any reason to believe that J is not telling the truth ... It's the ultimate David and Goliath tale of a young man who never sought fame, just wanted justice, against a well-resourced defendant who has for years cultivated and been supported by the powerful." Former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane dismissed concerns at Pell's conviction as an affront to the "rule of law" and a case of "conservatives" creating a "twisted inversion of victimhood".
Pell has written widely in religious and secular magazines, including learned journals and newspapers in Australia and overseas. He regularly spoke on television and radio. His other publications include The Sisters of St Joseph in Swan Hill 1922–72 (1972), Catholicism in Australia (1988), Rerum Novarum – One Hundred Years Later (1992), Catholicism and the Architecture of Freedom.
- Pell, George (1977). Bread, stones or fairy floss: religious education today (pamphlet). Melbourne: Australian Catholic Truth Society Publications.
- ——— (1979). Are our secondary schools Catholic? (pamphlet). Melbourne: Australian Catholic Truth Society Publications.
- ——— (1982). An evaluation of the goal of moral autonomy in the theory and practice of Lawrence Kohlberg (microfiche). Clayton, Melbourne: Monash University.
- with Woods, Mary Helen (1996). Issues of Faith and Morals (paperback). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-553978-3. For senior secondary classes and parish groups.
- ——— (1999). Catholicism and the architecture of freedom (oration). The Inaugural Acton Lecture on Religion and Freedom. St Leonards, Sydney: Centre for Independent Studies (Australia). p. 14. ISBN 978-1-86432-044-2.
- ——— (2004). Livingstone, Tess (ed.). Be not afraid: collected writing (paperback). Sydney: Duffy & Snellgrove. ISBN 978-1-876631-97-0. A collection of homilies and reflections.
- ——— (2007). Casey, M. A. (ed.). God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society (paperback). Ballan, Victoria: Connor Court. ISBN 978-0-8132-1503-7.
- ——— (2010). Livingstone, Tess (ed.). Test Everything: Hold Fast to What Is Good (paperback). Ballan, Victoria: Connor Court. ISBN 978-1-9214-2137-2.
- Holy See: Grand Prior of the New South Wales Lieutenancy of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (2001), Grand Prior of the Australian Lieutenancy – Southern of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (1998–2001)
- Australia: Companion of the Order of Australia (2005) for service to the Catholic Church in Australia and internationally, to raising debate on matters of an ethical and spiritual nature, to education and social justice.[b]
- Australia: Centenary Medal (2001) for service to Australian society through the Catholic Church
- Ecclesiastical Grand Cross and Ecclesiastical Grand Cross of Merit of the Malta-Paris obedience of the Order of Saint Lazarus (statuted 1910) (2003) for longstanding commitment to ecumenism, National Chaplain (2001)
- One of his fellow seminarians at Corpus Christi was Denis Hart,:38–39 Pell's successor as Archbishop of Melbourne.[page needed]
- On 21 August 2019, the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison said that that he plans to follow precedent and see that a recommendation is made to the governor general that this honour be revoked after Pell lost his appeal against his sexual abuse convictions. The governor general also issued a statement noting that such a conviction is grounds for termination of an appointment to the Order of Australia but also declaring that no action will be taken until the appeals process is completed.
- Boswell, Ryan. "Australia's Cardinal George Pell to become the highest-ranking Catholic jailed for child sex abuse". Television New Zealand. Archived from the original on 14 June 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- Guilty verdict:
- "Australia's Cardinal Pell found guilty of sex abuse, expected to appeal". Catholic Register. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
- "Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of 'historical sexual offenses'". America Magazine. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
- Condon, Ed. "Reports of Pell guilty verdict emerge, despite gag order". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
- "Convicted Cardinal - Pell's name scraped from his Australian hometown". Reuters. 27 February 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- Farhl, Paul (13 December 2018). "An Australian court's gag order is no match for the Internet, as word gets out about prominent cardinal's conviction". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- Rose, Tim; Rugg, Eliza; Ansell, Benjamin (14 March 2019). "George Pell alone, handcuffed and in the back of a prison van". 9News. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
- "DPP v Pell (sentence)". AustLII. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- "Director of Public Prosecutions v George Pell" (PDF). County Court of Victoria. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- Milligan, Louise (14 March 2019). "George Pell looked a changed man as he was sentenced for his crime". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
- "Cardinal George Pell's fate to be broadcast live to the world". SBS News. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
- VCA dismissal:
- Pell v The Queen  VSCA 186 (21 August 2019)
- "George Pell Victorian Court of Appeal judgment summary transcript". ABC News. Australia. 21 August 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- Albeck-Ripka, Livia (20 August 2019). "Cardinal George Pell's Sexual Abuse Conviction Is Upheld". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
- McGowan, Michael (21 August 2019). "Cardinal George Pell loses appeal on child sexual assault conviction – live". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
- Butt, Craig; Cooper, Adam; Grieve, Charlotte (21 August 2019). "George Pell appeal LIVE: Cardinal's appeal is dismissed". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
- Patrick, A. Odysseus (21 August 2019). "Court upholds convictions against highest-ranking Vatican official jailed on charges of child sex abuse". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
- Farnsworth, Sarah (17 September 2019). "George Pell seeks leave to appeal child sex abuse convictions in High Court". ABC News. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
- Cooper, Adam (4 March 2019). "Father of dead Pell victim thanks son's friend for 'guts to come forward'". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Ferguson, John. "George Pell held in solitary, praying and writing". The Australian. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
- "Meet George Pell, Australia's Newest Cardinal". ABC News. Australia. October 2003. Archived from the original on 4 April 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
- Bourke, Latika (10 November 2015). "Kevin Rudd blasts George Pell over climate change". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
- "George Pell's career in the Catholic Church". SBS News. SBS. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
- Catholic Church Victoria (21 September 2012). Facing the Truth – Learning from the Past – How the Catholic Church in Victoria has Responded to Child Abuse (submission to Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations) (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- Family and Community Development Committee (2013). Betrayal of trust : inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations (Volume 2) (PDF). East Melbourne, Victoria: Parliament of Victoria. ISBN 9780987372857.
- Catholic Church Victoria (21 September 2012). Facing the Truth – Learning from the Past – How the Catholic Church in Victoria has Responded to Child Abuse (submission to Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations) (PDF) (Report). Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- "George Pell, Catholic cardinal, charged with historical sexual assault offences". ABC News. Australia. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- Younger, Emma (25 February 2019). "George Pell guilty of sexually abusing choirboys". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
- "George Pell: How Italian media reacted to the historical sexual offence charges". ABC News. Australia. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
- "With Australian gag order lifted on Cardinal Pell abuse trial, details finally spill out". The Washington Post. 2 February 2019.
The announcement Tuesday of Pell’s conviction in December came after a media gag order was lifted by prosecutors, who dropped separate sexual assault charges against Pell. As a result, Pell will not face another trial.
- Suppression order:
- "Cardinal George Pell Reportedly Convicted of Sex Abuse Amid Gag Order in Australia". NPR. 13 December 2018. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- Cartwright, Lachlan (11 December 2018). "Vatican No. 3 Cardinal George Pell Convicted on Charges He Sexually Abused Choir Boys". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- "Report: Third-Highest Ranking Vatican Official Convicted on Sex Abuse Charges in Australia". Slate. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- Sullivan, Margaret (12 December 2018). "A top cardinal's sex-abuse conviction is huge news in Australia. But the media can't report it there". Washington Post. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
- Davey, Melissa (26 February 2019). "George Pell: cardinal found guilty of child sexual assault". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
- "George Pell guilty of sexually abusing choirboys". ABC News. Australia. 26 February 2019.
- "George Pell's conviction for child sexual abuse reverberates around Australia". ABC News. Australia. Associated Press. 26 February 2019. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
- "Pell v The Queen  HCATrans 217 (13 November 2019)". High Court of Australia Transcripts. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019. This decision was made "on the papers". Counsel for both sides will now be fully heard, but without the duplication of hearing them first on the question of leave and then on an appeal.
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- Council of Cardinal Advisers term:
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- McCulloch, Daniel (21 August 2019). "George Pell's Australian honours in doubt". Canberra Times. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
- "Pell, George: Centenary Medal". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
- "Cardinal George Pell, EGCLJ GCMLJ" (PDF). Grand Priory of Australia, a Jurisdiction of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
- Livingstone, Tess (2002). George Pell. Potts Point, New South Wales: Duffy & Snellgrove. ISBN 978-1-876631-52-9.
- Marr, David (2013). The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell. Quarterly Essay. 51. Carlton, Victoria: Black Inc. Books. ISBN 978-1-863-95616-1.
- Milligan, Louise (2017). Cardinal: the rise and fall of George Pell. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 978-0-522-87135-7.
- Morris-Marr, Lucie; Foster, Chrissie (2019). Fallen: the inside story of the secret trial and conviction of Cardinal George Pell. Sydney, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-76087-605-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Pell.|
- "Pell Card. George". Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
- "Cardinal George Pell". Biography. Archdiocese of Sydney.
|Catholic Church titles|
Marion Francis Forst
|— TITULAR —
Bishop of Scala
Edward Joseph Adams
as Titular Archbishop of Scala
| Archbishop of Melbourne
| Archbishop of Sydney
|New dicastery|| Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy
Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, S.I.