With maximum respect to Australian authorities and the country’s judicial system, the Holy See awaits the results of the appeal process.
This is the essence of the declaration issued by Vatican Press Office Director ‘ad interim’, Alessandro Gisotti, today, Feb. 26, 2019, in response to the court judgments in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday regarding Australian Cardinal George Pell, 77, Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, who has insisted that he has returned to Australia to clear his name of false sexual abuse charges against him. Cardinal Pell is no longer an advisor or member of the Pope’s Council of Cardinals. The Pope has thanked him for his service.
The court had found him guilty of historic sexual abuses against minors. The cardinal still claims his innocence, and will appeal.
The statement, which ZENIT will provide to our readers in English as soon as possible, stated that this is “painful news, that as we are well aware, has shocked numerous people, not only in Australia.”
“As already affirmed in other occasions, we reiterate maximum respect for the Australian judicial authorities.”
“Always with this respect,” it continued, “we now wait for the outcome of the appeal process, remembering that Cardinal Pell has reiterated his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last level.”
The statement did also note though, that while the cardinal is appealing his appeal, until there is a definitive ruling, “Cardinal Pell is prohibited from public ministry” and “contact, in any way or form, with minors.”
Vatican Press Office, Greg Burke, on May 1, 2018, in response to the court judgments in Melbourne, Australia, had stated: “Last year, the Holy Father granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence so he could defend himself from the accusations. The leave of absence is still in place.” The text was published that morning in Rome, after the decision of the Melbourne court to have the Prelate appear before a tribunal.
At that time, the court dismissed several charges but still was still having him stand trial. The Cardinal rejected the accusations brought against him and plead not guilty. The nature of the alleged cases was not identified.
This was Greg Burke’s declaration: “The Holy See has taken note of the decision issued by judicial authorities in Australia regarding His Eminence Cardinal George Pell. Last year, the Holy Father granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence so he could defend himself from the accusations. The leave of absence is still in place.”
Before leaving for Australia to defend himself, Cardinal Pell explained his decision in the Holy See Press Office with journalists. The Holy See Press Office issued a statement regarding the cardinal and the situation.
“The Holy Father,” it noted, “having been informed by Card. Pell, has granted the Cardinal a leave of absence so he can defend himself.’
“The Holy Father,” it added, “who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration, and in particular, for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9).”
“The Holy See expresses its respect for the Australian justice system that will have to decide the merits of the questions raised. At the same time, it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors; has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities (for example, in his depositions before the Royal Commission); has supported the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse,” it concluded.