Cardinal Pell’s Due Process

George Cardinal Pell in sunnier days.

One might well describe the conviction of Cardinal Pell a travesty of justice, but we will likely never know, as the trial was ‘blacked out’, which does not mean everyone was singing Mammy in minstrelsy – although, given the comic level of due process, they might as well have been. There is an old adage that it is not enough for justice to be done, but justice must be seen to be done, which is why secret trials – the usual mode of justice in Stalinist Russia – should be against the law.

It is no secret, however, that there was a vivid anti-Catholic bias not just in the courtroom, but in Australian culture in general; much like Ireland, has ‘chucked the Faith’; now in the main, Aussies, especially those of a certain millennial age, live lives of empty and bitter hedonism, which may taste good at first, but will lead to a rather severe eternal stomach ache, and worse.

How is one to prove allegations that are decades old? It is witness against witness, a septuagenarian Cardinal of a conservative disposition, against a middle-aged ‘chorister’ who claims said Cardinal ‘sexually abused’ him after Sunday Mass in the eighties. How this was done in a crowded sacristy with multiple witnesses was apparently never made fully clear. But that vague charge, which covers just about anything, sticks to the accused like wet clothes; no, worse, it’s like being branded on the forehead with a big scarlet ‘A’. Even if acquitted, the Cardinal’s reputation would have been ruined.

Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence, and is appealing the decision of the court. What really happened in a case such as this can never really be proved beyond any semblance of reasonable doubt – which is why there is and should be a statue of limitations on such accusations – and all we can hope is that God’s justice will win out in the end, when all things – and the hearts of all men – are revealed on the last day which, given the acceleration of things, may be closer than we think. At least, at times, one may hope so.