Statement from Bishop Bill Wright: Cardinal Pell appeal outcome

In December 2018 Cardinal George Pell was convicted for the sexual abuse of two choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997. It was the second trial, after the first trial’s jury failed to reach a verdict.

In June 2019 the full bench of the Victorian Court of Criminal Appeal heard Cardinal Pell’s appeal. We now know that appeal was unsuccessful and Cardinal Pell’s conviction has withstood the scrutiny of Victoria’s highest court. It may be that the Cardinal mounts an appeal to the High Court, that is yet to be seen.

I appreciate that this demonstration that no-one is above the law may be of some help and encouragement to survivors of abuse who long felt that they were not heard or not believed, and I truly hope that it does bring comfort to them. My thoughts go to Cardinal Pell at this time, as they would to any human being having to come to terms with the prospect of a lengthy time in prison.

As the Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle I have consistently and publicly stated my belief in the rule of law and the strength and resilience of our criminal justice system. I maintain that belief now, so I, of course, accept the verdict of the court. There will surely be much discussion of this judgement. I hope that it will be free from the ugliness that attended various incidents around Cardinal Pell’s trial and some of the commentary on it. This judgement leaves us all with a great deal to think about. May it be a stimulus to a deeper reflection on our society and how we can be both a safer community for children and more civilised in our conduct when difficult issues of justice and truth are being determined.

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Bishop Bill Wright Image
Bishop Bill Wright

Most Reverend William (Bill) Wright is the eighth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and is the pastoral leader of more than 150,000 Catholics in the region.