SYDNEY - In his first interview since being released from prison, Australia’s Cardinal George Pell has said his hardline conservative views on social issues were the reason he was prosecuted. Pell’s convictions for child abuse were unanimously quashed by Australia’s High Court earlier this month.
Cardinal George Pell was the world’s most senior Catholic official to be jailed for child abuse. He served more than a year of a six-year prison sentence after being found guilty of sexually assaulting two choirboys in a cathedral in the city of Melbourne in the 1990s. He had always protested his innocence, and this month was acquitted by Australia’s high court.
It found there was a reasonable doubt that Pell had the time or the opportunity to commit the alleged crimes after a busy Sunday Mass almost 25 years ago.
In an interview with Australia’s Sky News, Cardinal Pell has spoken publicly for the first time since his release from prison.
He described the complainant who testified against him as a “poor fellow” and said the man may have been manipulated by Pell’s critics.
The former Vatican treasurer said he was a casualty of a so-called culture war with opponents, who disliked his conservative views on same-sex marriage and abortion.
Pell also took aim at the justice system in the state of Victoria, where he was convicted after a trial in December 2018.
Cardinal Pell said it was weighed too heavily in favor of alleged victims of abuse.
“We need good policemen, we need good judges, good prosecutors. It is not a sign of a civilization where you have guilt by accusation. The pendulum of 30-40 years ago is massively against anybody who said that they had been attacked. Nowadays, we do not want it to swing back so that every accusation is regarded as gospel truth.
It now is being reported that Cardinal Pell faces fresh allegations from a new accuser.
Pell has told Australian TV he “wouldn't be entirely surprised” if police came after him again.
Asked at a media conference if the force had a vendetta against the former Archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, Victoria’s deputy police commissioner Shane Patton said he had no comment to make “in respect to Cardinal Pell.”
Police in Sydney have investigated threats made on social media against the 78-year old Cardinal Pell since his release.
The former papal adviser spent more than 400 days in jail before being freed April 7.