After the acquittal of Cardinal Geroge Pell on the charges of child sexual abuse, Pope Francis recalled the “persecution that Jesus suffered” and asked everyone to pray for those innocent people who faced injustice. A bench of Brisbane High Court quashed the child sexual abuse conviction on April 7 after a two-year lonlegal battle fought by Pell.
In these days of #Lent, we've been witnessing the persecution that Jesus underwent and how He was judged ferociously, even though He was innocent. Let us #PrayTogether today for all those persons who suffer due to an unjust sentence because of someone had it in for them.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 7, 2020
The bench, in its summary judgement, said that it was not enough that the jurors find the witness believable, reliable and thoroughly credible. The court said that there was a “significant possibility” that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.
Cardinal Pell has continuously maintained his innocence since he was first charged in 2017 and issued a statement after the decision saying he does not hold ill will towards his accuser.
“However my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic church, nor a referendum on how church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church. The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not,” said the tainted Cardinal.
Australia has been working on the legislation to curb the cases of child abuse and last year federal and state attorneys agreed to standardise laws, making it mandatory for priests to report child abuse revealed during confessions.
The agreement among the top attorneys was based on the three principles for the laws, recommended after the final report of the Royal Commission for Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.