Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.


In Focus

Cardinal Pell's Acquittal

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Writing for a newspaper is a good way of putting your head on the chopping block and for people to offer critique. I received one such head on the block critique this last week which I have taken to heart. My challenger reminded me of the article I wrote regarding the conviction of Cardinal Pell after his conviction in 2019. Following Cardinal Pell’s acquittal, my correspondent asked if I would now write again on the matter. Hence this article.

In 2019 I wrote an article regarding the community response to the conviction of Cardinal Pell. It was not an article that was intended to ascribe guilt to the Cardinal. Rather, it was a response to the court’s conviction of the Cardinal and the community reaction that concerned me. Child abuse is, and I expect ought to be, one of the most emotionally charged issues of our day. With such emotion comes responses that sometime abuse innocent bystanders. Sometimes it even sees the innocent condemned, as has been the case for Cardinal Pell. I will say more on this in a moment.

My primary concern remains a valid one. How we respond to the actions of an individual who represents such a large and fine group of people, the church, in our society is important. To recognise the grief that the different sides of a decision experience should not be treated lightly, flippantly or accusatively. A patient love of neighbour remains the crucial ingredient to the life of a community.

With “the life of community in mind” I want to quote from the article from 2019: “I will admit to not following Cardinal Pell’s case all that closely but I expect that the courts will deal with him in accordance with the rule of law.”

No community can survive where the rule of law fails. One could argue that justice has prevailed in Cardinal Pell’s case but it took the highest Court in our land to secure it.  In Cardinal Pell’s case the unanimous decision of the seven judges is a massive rebuke to the Victorian Court of Appeal and the vultures of the media world. It raises huge concerns in regard to the Victorian judicial system and the reporting of the national broadcaster. When trust in police, judges, politicians and the media decays you can be assured that the community will suffer.

I agree with Martin Iles of the ACL:  “The High Court’s acquittal of Cardinal Pell reveals some interesting questions about justice and truth. If we truly care – about all people, whether victims or accused – then we will want our legal system, our leaders and our society to value truth above all else.”

Cardinal Pell was right when he spoke to Andrew Bolt of a higher accountability and the certainty of justice in the heavenly court. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God and for those who pervert the course of justice, God has an appointed time for them to face the Judge before whom no appeal will be required or entertained. In truth all of us have an appointed time to stand before our maker and judge. It is why Jesus Christ is so important. He is an advocate whose death offers forgiveness of sins and his appeal on our behalf is the only one the Judge accepts. So I would accept Cardinal Pell’s advice to repent of sins and turn to Christ for his help.

I thank my correspondent for their request to write again on this matter. I ask us all to hold fast to truth rather than the alternatives which destroy us.

Rick Lewers