Blessed are those who are persecuted
for the sake of justice
When Pope Francis was protecting ex-cardinal McCarrick, in Australia Cardinal George Pell was exposed to trial by the mob. Article published in the magazine of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Ave Maria no. 830, May-June 2020.
“I just spent thirteen months in jail for a crime I did not commit. I knew God was with me, but I did not know what He wanted from me. After each ‘blow’ came the consolation of knowing that I could offer this for a purpose and the suffering turned into spiritual strength.”
These are the words that came from the wounded heart of Cardinal Pell on April 7, when the Australian Supreme Court had just recognised his innocence by a unanimous decision of seven judges overturning his January 2019 conviction for a crime of abuse of which he is innocent.
We weep for the unjust treatment inflicted on Cardinal Pell, but also for so many other men of the Church faithful to Christ in the midst of mortiferous slander and the martyrdom of defamation. It is a painful and public reality that prelates and priests have been stripped of their ministry, proscribed, exiled, condemned and unjustly imprisoned because of false accusations, victims of unspeakable snares set for them. Some have even been reduced to the secular state, abandoned to their fate with no more resources to live on. Their honour and reputation were never, or almost never, restored to them. The case of Cardinal Pell is an example of this. Slander wounds to death and demands reparation. We must intensify our prayer for these ministers of Christ.
However, in the face of these infamous accusers, of these ferocious anti-Catholic lobbies, the cardinal had courageous defenders such as this judge who was inaccessible to corruption. Indeed, Cardinal Pell’s appeal was rejected in August 2019 by two votes to one, but one of the three judges, Marc Weinberg, wrote a two hundred-page memoir explaining that it was impossible for the cardinal to have committed the abuse of which he was accused and for which he was sentenced to six years in prison. Weinberg showed that some of the denunciations of the former altar boy were complete fabrications. As for the second alleged victim, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014 (it is so easy to make someone talk under the influence of drugs!), he had told his mother that he had never been abused. If she was still alive, the accusation would have been inadmissible. According to Weinberg, there is a series of evidences that make the plaintiff’s entire construction impossible.
There is also this honest journalist, Andrew Bolt, who summed up the facts by demonstrating the absolute impossibility of this fabricated affair.
The television channel Australian Broadcasting Corporation launched a major anti-Catholic campaign on the occasion of the trial, saying it was ill at ease with the cardinal’s strong opposition to homosexual marriage and his defence of life and the family. In addition, his rigorous honesty with regard to the Vatican’s finances provoked a campaign in Australia itself. Both in Melbourne and in Sidney, his second episcopal see, he has been known for his energetic repression of unnatural behaviour.
An inconsistent accusation, non-existent evidence, these do not hinder mass manipulation techniques. This resulted in the cardinal being sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, where he finally remained interned for 400 days, transferred to a prison under high surveillance with the prohibition to celebrate Mass and to receive the Eucharist. Throughout this trial he was a model of patience and a model of a priest, free in chains. He used this prison, which he himself described as a “long Spiritual Exercise,” for prayer, study and writing, and no doubt he prayed for the conversion of his persecutors.
We know the sayings: ‘when one lies long enough, the lie becomes the truth’ and ‘no smoke without fire.’ Suspicions will inevitably remain, even when the innocence of the person slandered is proven, and this as long as the truth of the facts is not publicly proclaimed. Strict justice requires that the harm caused be repaired and that the victim’s honour be restored.
God, however, sees everything and He penetrates hearts in view of Eternity.
Today the Australian Cardinal is absolved and free, but certainly morally marked by those months of cruel isolation without the consolation of Mass and in the official indifference of the Vatican and the unofficial interest of some powerful members of the hierarchy. Now, in his monastic retreat, “without rancour or desire for revenge,” he tells us, he will live discreetly, trying not to disturb those who, in slander, have abandoned him to his fate. Prematurely retired, he experienced in his flesh that one can only hope in Jesus.