Australian Cardinal George Pell might stay in prison another three months, while awaiting a Court of Appeal’s decision on his appeal against the first instance judgment for his sexual abuse of two minors, indicated “Vatican News” in Italian on March 8, 2019.
His lawyers did not ask for freedom on bail as the Cardinal decided not to request it.
The next hearings will take place on June 5 and 6, as stated by a spokesman of Melbourne’s Court of Appeal. On March 13, Judge Peter Kidd of the Victoria Court will issue the Court’s decision of December, made public last February 26, recognizing him guilty of five abuse crimes.
Criminal lawyer Robert Richter will no longer lead the Cardinal’s defense. He relinquished his position stating that he lacked “sufficient objectivity” to lead the appeal, but that he will continue to advise the team of lawyers. “I’m very irritated by the verdict because I believe this man is innocent, but he has been prosecuted,” he added.
For their part, the Australian Bishops exhort “not to draw definitive conclusions while the Judges have not had the opportunity to re-examine the question.” They stressed this in a note signed by the President of the Australian Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney. “We could end by joining persons that demonize or apologists, those looking for blood or those denying it. The legal process concerning the Cardinal has not yet finished, consequently, I will not comment,” said the Archbishop.
According to those close to the Cardinal, contacted by “Vatican News,” he is “serene” and “has confidence in justice.”
The former Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy — appointed to the post in 2014 –, was judged guilty of sexually abusing minors, aged 12 and 13, in the 90’s when he was Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne (Australia). Cardinal Pell, 77, continues to state he is innocent.
The Holy See reacted to the publication of the judgment, affirming its “total respect in regard to Australian justice.”