Cardinal Pell: Justice at last
Dr Pravin Thevathasan
Why did Pell go to jail? It was obvious to those of us in various different intellectual disciplines that there should never have been a trial. But the state of Victoria failed him because of incompetence in the police force and in the judicial process. Or something worse. The ABC, the Australian equivalent to the BBC, had run a concerted campaign against Pell because he stood for everything the ABC opposed. He was an easy target.
The unanimous decision of the High Court was not based on a technical legality: Pell did not get away with it. Rather, there was a clear statement to the effect that it was likely that an innocent man had been sent to jail. The Court of Appeal got it wrong. Had it not been for the learned opinion of the dissenting judge, there may never have been a unanimous decision by the highest court in the country.
It is interesting to note how liberal Catholics wrote about the Pell case. Writing in the National Catholic Reporter (August 21, 2019) Michael Sean Winters comments that "there is no reason to cause aspersions on the Australian judicial system." Well, now we know. He goes on to compare Pell with the infamous sexual predators Maciel and McCarrick. He fails to take note of a significant point of fact: there is overwhelming evidence in the cases of Maciel and McCarrick. There is none against Pell. But Australia, says Winters, is not Somalia. Well....
Writing in The Tablet (29, August, 2019), Christopher Lamb notes that the "slowness of Pope Francis to act on Pell contrasts with the treatment of ex-Cardinal McCarrick." In this case, the Vatican is to be commended. Lamb goes on to note that "while every man has a right to use the law to defend his good name, some will argue that a Cardinal investing more resources and energy into appealing to the High Court sends a message that reputation comes first." It is in accordance with natural justice that everyone has a right to a fair trial. In the toxic atmosphere created by the ABC and other institutions in Australia, is it possible for Catholic priests to have a fair trial?
Many people believe that Tim Minchin is the biggest joker in Australia. Perhaps we can now acknowledge a bigger joker: the Austalian judicial system.