March 9th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Commissioner Hayne offers banking stimulus

EDITORIAL Beijing's warning shot hits our soft economic underbelly

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coal ban just one front in Beijing's war on everyone

RURAL AFFAIRS Activist groups harass farmers while claiming tax-exempt status

BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION Dealing with disaster back into the too-hard basket

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Why Hungary and Poland rile the EU

RELIGION AND POLITICS Christians resolve to raise their voices in the public square

GENDER POLITICS Another freedom bites the dust under Daniel Andrews

FAMILY AND SOCIETY The end of 'Liberalism'

CHINA Thank you for your service, soft power; sharp power will take it from here

SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY Fermi's Paradox: Is Big Alien watching you?

MUSIC Perpetual vibe: From medium to media

CINEMA At Eternity's Gate: Impressions of Vincent

BOOK REVIEW Balanced account after the hysteria

BOOK REVIEW Golden Age for workers and its end



SPECIAL EDITORIAL Has Cardinal George Pell been wrongly convicted?

THE CARDINAL PELL CASE: Triumphalism over Pell verdict shows civilisation just a veneer


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News Weekly, March 9, 2019


The latest on the Cardinal Pell case

Updated March 20, 2019


To balance public debate on the case, we invite people to email and share on social media, download and print articles you consider most relevant, and distribute widely. Give to relatives and friends. Leave in public places.


Two leading articles on the case

Peter Westmore: Pell conviction a most unusual case, The Catholic Weekly, March 6, 2019. Mr Westmore, former President of the National Civic Council, attended the two trials of Cardinal Pell.

Also, see Mr Westmore’s interview with Andrew Bolt on Sky News.


Has Cardinal George Pell been wrongly convicted? Patrick J. Byrne, President of the National Civic Council, News Weekly, February 23, 2019.


About this resource page

This page presents many commentators who have questioned the conviction of Cardinal Pell on child sex abuse charges. Some commentators are Catholic. A few are Catholic but not friends of Cardinal Pell. Many are non-Catholic or not religious.

Variously they point to the lack of evidence for a conviction, contrary evidence from the witnesses brought by the prosecution, and the public trial by media before charges were laid that made the process a persecution not a prosecution. Consequently, as some point out, Victoria’s legal system is as much on trial as Cardinal Pell. The glaring problems with the trial and frenzied media attacks on the Cardinal brings into question the possibility of a fair trial or appeal.

Justice for victims of child sexual abuse is not achieved if a person is wrongly convicted and made a scapegoat for the heinous crimes of others. We point to the infamous legal cases of people wrongly convicted, such as Lindy Chamberlain in the Northern Territory in the 1980s, Alfred Dreyfus in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and, more recently, Josephine Greensill, a Melbourne teacher who was wrongly convicted in 2010 of child sexual abuse and spent 2½ years of a seven-year sentence in prison before being acquitted.

Cardinal Pell’s application to appeal the case is set for June 5–6.

NB: Several news reports have repeated that the first trial of Cardinal Pell ended in a hung jury, 10-2 in favour of acquital. That result, however, cannot be verified and may indeed be inaccurate. Please keep that in mind while reading or listening to the reports linked to below.


The latest news (fresh posts at the top) * Highly recommended


For the lynch mob, priests are guilty until proven innocent, Miranda Devine, The Daily Telegraph, March 16, 2019

On Friday the Victorian Court of Appeal quietly acquitted a priest who has spent a year in jail after a jury convicted him of raping a young boy half a century ago. As is the case with Cardinal George Pell, the jury convicted John Tyrrell on the uncorroborated allegation of a sole complainant.


Review of Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, Gerard Henderson, The Sydney Institute website, 2017

Cardinal is not an objective analysis of either the Catholic Church or Cardinal George Pell. Rather, it is the case for the prosecution.


George Pell: a case in which justice never had a fair chance, Greg Craven, The Australian, February 27, 2019

All my life, I have joined in the chorus that our justice system is the best in the world. With the case of Cardinal George Pell, I am not singing quite so loud.


Cardinal George Pell’s defence to child sex charges centred on ten key arguments, Shannon Deery, Herald Sun, February 27, 2019

Cardinal George Pell always denied any and all wrongdoing, slamming child sex allegations against him as “deranged falsehoods”. His defence relied on these 10 key arguments.


Our Dreyfus case, George Weigel, First Things, March 6, 2019

In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus of the French Army was convicted of treason on the grounds that he had given military secrets to France’s mortal enemy, Germany. The charge was false; Dreyfus, a Jew, was framed. The conviction of Cardinal George Pell in December 2018 on charges of “historic sexual abuse” is this generation’s Dreyfus Affair.


* Character references submitted to the court for Cardinal George Pell can be read here.


* Cardinal Pell trial observer calls guilty verdict ‘incomprehensible’, Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, March 14, 2019

A witness to both of Cardinal George Pell’s trials, Peter Westmore, says the prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy is a victim of ‘trial by media’ and the guilty verdict is ‘utterly unfair’.


‘Faith, innocence’ sustain stoic leader in darkest hour, Tess Livingstone, The Australian, March 2, 2019

For all the vitriol hurled at Pell, supporters are outraged, anxious for his safety and distraught over what they are convinced is a gross miscarriage of justice.


Analysis: What's next for Cardinal Pell? Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, March 13, 2019

For the time being, Cardinal Pell remains a prisoner of the state and a sitting cardinal – a combination unprecedented in modern times.


What Newman can tell us about the Cardinal Pell verdict, Fr George W. Rutler, Crisis Magazine, March 14, 2019

An 1852 libel case against John Henry Newman holds instructive parallels to the Cardinal Pell case.


Pell case attracts inaccurate views, Gerard Henderson, The Australian, March 16, 2019

it is important that reporters and commentators to be factual – especially in view of the international attention the Cardinal Pell case has attracted. Unfortunately, the coverage so far has had many blemishes – which go to a basic misunderstanding of the law and how it operates.


How Pell became the Vatican’s sacrificial lamb, Miranda Devine, The Daily Telegraph, February 27, 2019

The guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell is devastating. It’s devastating because I don’t believe that Pell could be guilty of sexually assaulting two choirboys in a busy cathedral after Sunday Mass.


Four Corners: the third trial of Cardinal PellTerri M. KelleherNews Weekly, March 13, 2019

The Four Corners program seemed designed to explain away some of the questions raised by the evidence presented at the trials.


* George Weigel in conversation with Patrick Coffin, The Patrick Coffin Show, March 12, 2019

American commentator George Weigel speaks extensively on the verdict meted out to Cardinal George Pell


* The case against Cardinal PellJulia YostFirst Things, July 3, 2017

An older article, but still relevant on every point and a great backgrounder to the case


Graceless new book takes hatchet to Cardinal PellPeter Westmore, News Weekly, June 3, 2017

The title of the book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, says it all: Cardinal Pell is guilty, and must be brought down.


Pro-Pell and pulped as a consequence, Quadrant Online Editor, Quadrant Online, March 13, 2019

An edition of Hobart’s Catholic Standard was withdrawn and pulped on account of a column by Professor David Daintree, of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, that defended Cardinal Pell.


George Pell and the jury, Keith Windschuttle, Quadrant Magazine, March 12, 2019

Enough of the George Pell case has been publicly discussed to demonstrate that the jury could not have come to its decision on the basis of reason and evidence alone.


It’s not uncommon for jury verdicts to be questionedGerard HendersonThe Australian, March 9, 2019

Reporting and commentary about R v George Pell has revealed that many journalists have little knowledge of the legal system, while others have projected their views into the coverage.


Calling Cardinal Pell’s prosecution what it is: religious persecution, Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Catholic Register, March 1, 2019

Miscarriages of justice do take place. The case of Cardinal Pell, though, was not a miscarriage akin to a mistake. It was done with police and prosecutorial malice aforethought.


The Pell fallout continues, and it has implications for the whole Church, Steve Skojec, March 5, 2019

If the reporting is to be believed, the guilty verdict was obtained without a shred of corroborating physical evidence or testimony.


A litany of improbabilities, Greg Daly, The Irish Catholic, March 7, 2019

The details which have come to light have certainly made scepticism about the verdict seem justified.


Cardinal Pell in prison: A view from Hong Kong, Pablo Elton, March 5, 2019

What has happened has shocked and hurt many people, especially Catholics. The general feeling is one of disbelief and surprise.


George Yeo on Cardinal George Pell’s conviction: ‘He has strong grounds for appeal’, Martino Tan, mothership, March 8, 2019

Former Singaporean foreign minister George Yeo says he believes Cardinal Pell is innocent “on the basis of what I know of the case and of the man”.


Why Pell has been falsely convictedAndrew Bolt, Herald Sun, February 27, 2019

Cardinal George Pell has been falsely convicted of sexually abusing two boys in their early teens. That’s my opinion, based on the overwhelming evidence. He is a scapegoat, not a child abuser. In my opinion.


Fr Frank Brennan answers critics of his defence of Cardinal Pell, March 7, 2019

“My article in The Australian on the Pell verdict has elicited quite a range of responses.”


Cardinal Müller: Cardinal Pell’s conviction ‘against all reason and justice’, Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, March 6, 2019

The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told the Register that the allegations against Cardinal Pell are “absolutely unbelievable”.


The vendetta against Cardinal Pell . . . His guilt was not established beyond reasonable doubt, John Young, The Wanderer, March 5, 2019

it is absolutely certain that Cardinal Pell’s guilt was not established “beyond reasonable doubt”.


The factors that could see Pell freed, Charis Chang,, March 7, 2019

Questions hang over how George Pell’s trial was conducted and whether certain decisions will mean his conviction is overturned.


‘Perverse’: Barrister Robert Richter won’t lead Cardinal George Pell’s appeal bid, SBS News, March 6, 2019

The senior lawyer had labelled the verdict “perverse”.


Triumphalism over Pell verdict shows civilisation just a veneer, Greg Barns, Hobart Mercury, March 4, 2019

We can no longer pride ourselves on “Australia being a civilised society”.


How will you feel if Pell's appeal is successful? Amanda Vanstone, former federal Senator, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 4, 2019

“What, however, is particularly worrying is the suggestion that because he has now been convicted I should not speak as I found him.”


Victorian judicial system did not give Pell a fair trial, Tom Percy QC, West Australian, March 2, 2019

Pell had to take his chances with a jury selected at random from a community that had been subjected to several years of vitriolic media.


The ‘getting’ of George Pell, Geoffrey Luck, Quadrant Online, February 27, 2019

The conviction of George Pell demonstrates the power to skew justice of the emotional claptrap surrounding the serious crime of child abuse. … The jury’s decision is reduced to a distorted balance of probabilities, with motivation never examined.


Catholics, sex and Cardinal Pell, Peter Wales, Quadrant Online, February 27, 2019

One of George Pell’s first actions on becoming Archbishop of Melbourne was to set up clear processes for dealing with complaints of sexual abuse.


Beyond reasonable doubt: Was Pell convicted without fear and favour? John Silvester (a Walkley award-winning crime writer, columnist and a co-author of the best-selling books that formed the basis of the hit Australian TV series, Underbelly), The Age, February 26, 2019

Pell was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness, without forensic evidence, a pattern of behaviour or a confession. It is a matter of public record that it is rare to run a case on the word of one witness, let alone gain a conviction.


Truth and justice after the Pell verdict, Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Eureka Street, February 26, 2019

The events leading up to the trial “tend[ed] to shift not the legal, but the reputational, burden upon an accused person to prove innocence rather than the prosecution to prove guilt”.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm