Cardinal Pell to Be Sentenced: A Case of Justice or Corruption?


National Catholic Register, 12 March 2019

COMMENTARY: Commentators across the political and ecclesiastical spectrum have found the prosecution of Cardinal Pell to be an obvious injustice.

As Cardinal George Pell awaits sentencing Wednesday for his convictions of the sexual abuse of minors, one can expect that the official Vatican reaction will be to express “maximum respect” for the Australian criminal-justice system while awaiting the outcome of Cardinal Pell’s appeal.

In regards to Cardinal Pell’s case, the Vatican has repeatedly expressed its “maximum respect” for Australian authorities. Why?

Commentators across the political and ecclesiastical spectrum — including this writer — have found the prosecution of Cardinal Pell to be an obvious injustice.

It has long been known, and now can be publicly reported, that the police in Victoria (Cardinal Pell’s home state in Australia) were out to get Cardinal Pell long before there were any complaints about him. They had set up a task force, “Operation Tethering,” in 2013 to search for charges against Cardinal Pell before any such complaints had ever been made to police.

They took out advertisements soliciting stories of sexual abuse at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral before any such complaints had been received. The Victoria police had their man and just needed to produce a victim and a complaint.

But, you might say, the Vatican’s “maximum respect” line is just the sort of thing everyone says. Not so.

From the March 2 edition of The Economist: “Australia’s dodgy cops,” “Criminal Injustice,” “Police corruption in Australia.” Yes, that describes the police department that prosecuted the case against Cardinal Pell.

“Police in the state of Victoria spent millions of dollars trying to keep their arrangement with Informer 3838 a secret,” explains The Economist. “[Nicola Gobbo] was a young criminal barrister who snitched on some of Australia’s most notorious drug lords while she was representing them in the 1990s and 2000s. [She] claims her action helped convict nearly 400 criminals. She also violated their right to confidentiality and, possibly, their chances of a fair trial. Dozens of gangsters could walk free now the affair has become public.”

This is not just a newspaper in high dudgeon over civil rights.

A Victoria High Court ruled that the Victoria police had “corrupted” prosecutions and “debased fundamental principles of the criminal-justice system.” The premier (governor) of the state of Victoria has announced a royal commission, with powers of subpoena, to investigate the appearance of corruption at the highest levels of the Victoria police and its subsequent efforts to cover it up.

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