April 6th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The NSW election and our incredible shrinking farming sector

SOCIETY The pervasive and pernicious online porn epidemic

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coffers are full but Treasurer will take spending cautiously

OPINION Judge treats Cardinal Pell to a spot of 'open justice'

NATIONAL AFFAIRS NSW Liberals re-election gives a boost to Morrison

ECONOMICS The Great Dragon uncoils all around the globe

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Donald Trump: an unlikely promise keeper Part 2

REFLECTION On the conviction of Cardinal Pell

FICTION Orange Years: The Japie Greyling Story

TERRORISM Lessons from Christchurch

ASIAN AFFAIRS Xi's imperious play prompts U.S. to repair Asian friendships

YPAT Getting with the program: one young person's story

MUSIC To market, to market, to sell a good song

CINEMA The LEGO Movie 2: Building a world

BOOK REVIEW A template for living alongside the world

BOOK REVIEW Catholic Maryland and early tolerance



THE BUDGET Take your tax cuts and be merry, for tomorrow ... is another day

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News Weekly, April 6, 2019

The Pell verdict

I express my great sorrow over what I see as an unjust guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell. At first, because I had only faint memory of scant details of the charges against him, I was prepared to qualify my belief in his innocence by stating that, if in fact he did it, then he should cop the full force of the law.

No more! This is a disgraceful miscarriage of Justice. Now the papers have refreshed my memory about the actual charges, one reads with total disbelief that the alleged happenings could have even been possible in such circumstances. Who could believe that such an intellectual and religious giant as was the then newly appointed Archbishop Pell, could, Jeckle & Hyde-like, suddenly turn into a sex-crazed monster, taking such great risks.

To have indulged in such a reckless sexual attack, where the boys might have screamed at any moment, where they might have broke away to run for help, where someone might have come in at any moment – as the Pell Defence Team pointed out – was such an act: “only a madman would attempt to rape boys in the sacristy immediately after a Mass.”

Monsignor Charles Portelli testified that in the Church traditional practice he was with Pell every second of the time he was in formal robes (the alleged “victim” claimed Pell was still in robes at the time of the alleged attacks).

Anyone who knows anything at all about pedophile priests knows the vast majority of the crimes were committed after at least some “grooming”; grooming of intended victims and sometimes also of parents to gain their trust. Then the offences occurred in private safety – homes, bedrooms, camps, on sponsored holidays.

None, to my knowledge, were of such an alleged frenzy of animal-like behaviour, straight after a Mass with many people still milling around the church, in a place where they could be discovered at any moment, and by a man for whom such a mad and dangerous frenzy is just totally impossible to imagine.

Brian Hurlock,
West Footscray, Vic.


The following Scripture references are relevant: Deuteronomy 19:15, John 8:17, 2 Corinthians 13:1 and 1 Timothy 5:19.

That the need for two or more witnesses is stressed so often is surely significant for the upholding of true justice.

Donald Geddes,
Boronia Heights, Qld.


I view the conviction of Cardinal George Pell as a monstrous miscarriage of justice. I was a policeman for 29 years and I have never heard of or have observed a conviction based solely on the word of one person. No corroboration or physical evidence and the evidence seriously contradicted by 21 witnesses.

It is not the path of justice to ignore fundamental process.

Russell Savage,
Cooroy, Qld.


I speak as a person who held the office of Prosecutor for the Queen in Victoria for 15 years. One major duty of that office was to sign the presentments (also known as indictments) that contained the charges to be considered by juries.

Based only on the evidence reported in the media, it seems to me highly unlikely that Cardinal Pell could have sexually abused two choirboys in the sacristy with the sacristy door open, while wearing heavy clerical vestments, and when the cathedral was still thronged with people who had been at Sunday Mass, without attracting attention.

I find the evidence purporting to support the charges against Cardinal Pell so improbable that I do not believe that I could have signed a presentment containing the charges. I find it impossible to understand from the reported evidence how a jury could have been satisfied of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Those who have been pleased by the convictions of Cardinal Pell need to be ready to cope with the very real prospect that an appeal court will quash his convictions as unsafe.

James Bowen,
former Prosecutor for the Queen
for the State of Victoria,
Glen Waverley, Vic.


I would like to clarify a point in my article, Four Corners: the third trial of Cardinal Pell (News Weekly, March 23, 2019). I did not mean in any way to question the complainant‘s right to anonymity and I understand why in sexual abuse cases the complainant has that right. It was to preserve his anonymity that he did not give evidence in open court.

My point was that, as his evidence was given in camera, answers he may have given on cross-examination by the defence counsel on those points of doubt that have been noted by numerous commentators are not in the public domain. This has created great unease with the verdict. Were those doubts answered?

If the appeal is allowed, the appeal judges will be privy to that evidence as part of considering whether it was open to the jury to find Cardinal Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the evidence presented.

Terri M. Kelleher,
East Kew, Vic.

Vietnam containment

Bill James’ review of Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy (News Weekly, March 9, 2019) does not consider what the West achieved by keeping the Communists engaged for 30 years.

Ted Serong, Frank Mount and other experts have shown what would have happened to the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia if the communist terrorists had not been stopped. The whole of Southeast Asia would probably have been conquered, with dire consequences for Australia.

Indonesia had the largest communist party in the world. B.A. Santamaria’s Pacific Institute, comprising experts from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Ceylon and the United States, was fully aware of the situation and encouraged the Menzies government to remain engaged in Vietnam.

John Barich,
Claremont, WA

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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm