1. Cardinal’s Sex-Abuse Conviction Is Upheld.

By Robb M. Stewart, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2019, Pg. A6

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric ever to be jailed for child sexual abuse, has lost his appeal of his conviction.

The 78-year-old former Vatican finance chief was ordered Wednesday to serve out the remainder of his six-year sentence in a maximum-security prison in Australia, where as a convicted pedophile he is likely to spend much of his time isolated from other prisoners.

A panel of judges ruled 2-1 to uphold his December conviction for assaulting two young choirboys inside the cathedral that was the center of his diocese in the late 1990s.


2. Pope gives sick girl free run of audience stage, delighting crowd.

Reuters, August 21, 2019, 5:50 AM

Pope Francis allowed a girl suffering from an undisclosed illness to move around undisturbed clapping and dancing on the stage for most of his general audience on Wednesday, delighting the crowd.

The girl, wearing a pink T-shirt reading “Love,” slipped away from her mother at the front of the audience hall and reached the big marble stage. She pranced back and forth in front of him, jumped, and occasionally let go a loud, sharp clap.


3. The Australian Disgrace.

By George Weigel, First Things, August 21, 2019

There will be much more to be said in the weeks and months ahead about the rejection of Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his conviction for “historic sexual abuse,” by the 2-1 vote of a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court of Victoria. For the moment, this astonishing, indeed incomprehensible, decision calls into the gravest doubt the quality of justice in Australia—and the possibility of any Catholic cleric charged with sexual abuse to receive a fair trial or a fair consideration of the probity of his trial.

Cardinal Pell has said to friends in recent months that he knows he is innocent and that “the only judgment I fear is the last one.” The judges who concurred in a grotesque appellate decision confirming the result of a grotesque legal farce may or may not believe in a final judgment. But they certainly have other judgments to worry about. For they have confirmed that a once-admirable part of the Anglosphere known for independent thinking has become something quite ignoble, even sinister.


4. Ruling cements Pell’s profile as the Dreyfus or Hiss of the Catholic abuse crisis.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, August 21, 2019

Although Australian Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of a conviction on child sexual abuse charges was rejected Wednesday, that ruling may not be the end of legal road. As of this writing, Pell’s attorneys were still weighing whether to file a final appeal to Australia’s High Court.

Those attorneys told reporters that Pell continues to maintain his innocence, as he has since the charges first became public in June 2017.

Though Pell’s judicial odyssey may not be over, Wednesday’s ruling likely does represent the final word on another aspect of the case: George Pell is now officially the Alfred Dreyfus of the Catholic abuse crisis, meaning that opinions about his guilt or innocence are at least as much a reflection of one’s ideological convictions as about the actual evidence in the case.

Dreyfus, of course, was the French artillery officer of Jewish descent charged with treason in 1894 for allegedly passing military secrets to the Germans, spending five years on Devil’s Island. Dreyfus was eventually acquitted and reinstated to his army position, but for more than a decade, opinions about his guilt or innocence functioned as a bellwether for broader political and cultural tensions, pitting Catholic and traditionalist “anti-Dreyfusards” against pro-Republican and anti-clerical liberals.

Wednesday morning, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni repeated the Holy See’s respect for the Australian justice system while adding that Pell “has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and it is his right to appeal to the High Court.”

What the statement didn’t say, but it’s very much part of the subtext, is that there are important people on the pope’s team who may have little use for George Pell politically or personally, but they don’t believe he’s guilty of these charges either.


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