The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Cardinal Pell’s prison journal will be ‘spiritual classic,’ publisher says

“This journal reveals the Cardinal Pell I know and that every faithful Catholic should get to know,” says Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press.

Cardinal George Pell. (CNA file photo)

CNA Staff, Jun 20, 2020 / 09:30 pm (CNA).- The publisher of the prison diary of Cardinal George Pell said the text reveals the courage, conviction, and Christian charity of the cardinal.

“This journal reveals the Cardinal Pell I know and that every faithful Catholic should get to know,” Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press told CNA June 20.

Pell “proclaimed Christ and the Church’s moral teachings without fear and with full knowledge of what the cost would be. And he paid the price with good humor and, like Christ, a love of his enemies,” Fessio added.

The publisher expects to publish in Spring 2021 either an abridged version of Pell’s prison journal, which runs to 1,000 pages, or the first volume of the full text, Ignatius Press said Saturday. News of the text’s publication was first reported by AP.

Pell was convicted in 2018 of multiple counts of sexual abuse. On April 7, Australia’s High Court overturned his six-year prison sentence. The High Court ruled that he should not have been found guilty of the charges and that the prosecution had not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The cardinal’s case deeply divided Australia, as many legal scholars said there was not evidence to support allegations against Pell, and criticized his trial.

Pell spent 13 months in prison. The cardinal still faces a canonical investigation at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, though after his conviction was overturned, several canonical experts said it was unlikely he would actually face a Church trial.

Speaking to Australian students earlier this month, Pell said his time in prison was “difficult and unpleasant,” but not the worst possible form of suffering. He said his time in prison reinforced the truth of Christian view of redemptive suffering.

“I’m still teaching the same Christian message,” Pell told the Australian Catholic Students’ Association. “And I’m here simply to say that it works. Not in the sense that I was acquitted, but that this Christian teaching helped me to survive.”

Fessio sent a letter to Ignatius Press’ mailing list earlier this week notifying them that the journal would be published, and requesting financial support to offer Pell “appropriate advances on these volumes, which he can then use to remove much of the worry he now has about his legal debts.”

“I’ve already read the first half of the journal and it is extraordinary,” Fessio wrote.

“I think it’s going to be a spiritual classic.”


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21 Comments

  1. How self-serving to push this story here. Why not publish excerpts so we can see for ourselves whether the journal is “a classic” and “extraordinary”? And if it’s going to sell so well, why not give the cardinal an advance from Ignatius Press’ own resources instead of trying to get donations? Where’s the publisher’s confidence?

    • Close, but no cigar….Publishers these days don’t have their “own resources.”

      Judging by my limited experiences with three well-established book publishers, none of them Ignatius. In the new climate: people don’t read books; those who do are too often lured by cheaper and competing kindle versions; a large share of walk-in hard-copy retailers have closed their doors in recent years; and copyright laws are being shredded by the new technologies.

      Three off-the-wall recommendations here:

      (1)Frame the book as parallel to “The Prison Meditations of Father Delp,” penned in under a Fascist State (Delp was killed by Hitler in 1944). Cardinal Pell (and countless others in lesser ways) are now endangered by the rise of Secular Humanism and the Administrative State, and what Pope St. John Paul II termed the “culture of death.”

      (2) Thomas Merton wrote the introduction to Delp’s book; find someone comparable stature.

      (3) A book of 1,000 pages could be a bit much in pages and price for the still-reading public, even if released in more than one volume. Very seriously consider your “abridged” option, with the selected daily entries limited to, say, 400 pages.

      • This sounds like a book I could be interested in purchasing. The experience suggested showing parallels from one spiritual battle of WWII to the current pandemic most instructive. Sign me up❣️

    • Chris Sampson you nailed it!!! Spot on! Everyone knows that Ignatius Press is backed by Bill Gates, George Soros, and Disney/Comcast/Time Warner, plus the contributions of a colossal array of billionaire Hollywood movie stars/celebrities. And this Fr Fessio!—indeed, it was all the billions and billions of clams, cheddar, and buckaroos embedded in Fr Fessio’s back-pocket credit card that enabled him to outbid all those big corporate publishing companies and publish the powerful contemporary literary novel “Island of the World” by Michael O’Brien, while providing the financial support to send O’Brien on countless big-city world tours to market and publicize his now deservedly world-famous literary achievement. Finally, having watched several episodes of Fr Fessio’s Book Club, I, personally, can attest to the ultra-luxuriant CNN/MSNBC level ambience of their multi-million dollar production studio, and the constant fawning of countless assistants running back and forth bringing the show’s rich celebrity commentators various exotic coffees, wine, and ouerdurves during production.

    • I agree with Chris. However I knew the Cardinal 20 years ago and am elated that he will tell of his experiences. He is a very Holy, decent man and I am pleased that he will tell us about the sufferings he went through. Knowing this man I really feel this was a modern crucifixion that he went through. I know that this publication will be as successful as his other works. I really recommend everyone to read his other works. They are informative and interesting reading for the laity as well as for seminarians and bishops. He is a true scholar.

  2. Thus wrote Nelson Mandela: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison”.

  3. I’m not very good at a lot of things in this life but if God gave me one ability that I’m good at,it’s the ability to know a genuine person from a fake person.Having watched Pell on various media,and I know that may not be the best to to get to know a person,I could always tell from his hurt and dismay when his faith in God was attacked,sometimes brutally,he was the real deal because I also felt that that same hurt and disamy.

    When the allegations against him first broke,I knew this genuine man of God was innocent.Those instincts were spot on.

    I look forward to reading this mans testimony.

  4. For many the publication of Cardinal Pell’s prison journal would bring comfort and inspiration. I suppose that is a good thing. For the few it will be like rubbing salt into their open wounds, and that is not a good nor is it a holy thing.

    • Rubbing salt in their open wounds because an innocent man wrote a book?

      The few need to stop presuming that a man is guilty when he has been found not to be.

      • Wrong again Leslie. That is way too conveniently simplistic. What you have done again is to frame the debate and place the intent of my comment smack bang in the middle of your false assumption where it is easily attacked and ridiculed. My comment is not about the cardinals abuse related legal proceedings, and the few who i’m referring to have nothing to do with it.
        Now let’s look at the few who you do not consider. Like it or not there are some people who are not liars, nor are they bearers of false witness. They are the ones who lived through the reality of being abused by clergy. They are to ones who where re traumatized by the Catholic Church’s response to this travesty. At the core of my dismay and grief is a statement i made when first posting here:
        “A church that preaches one set of values while practicing a contradictory set of values defines itself as a hypocritical organisation.” It is in this context that i make this statement;

        For the few it will be like rubbing salt into their open wounds, and that is not a good nor is it a holy thing.

        The Church’s response to victims was and in many respects still is not in the spirit of the ministry of Jesus. Cardinal Pell’s personal response is a part of the overall response of the Australian Church and that of Rome where the secret files from Melbourne, Ballarat, Newcastle and the rest of Australia are now stored.
        Do you ever have a thought for these people who are part of the wider history and story that Mr Weigel’s selective and targeted narrative never includes or considers? That other commentaries and analysis at CWR never seem to take into detailed consideration either.
        Given the prolific number of times you have commented on my posts, it is telling that you have not once commented on any of my postings where i have mentioned the Papal Secret and the fact that all Australian Archbishops, Bishops, and priests where duty bound to comply with. Again I say A church that preaches one set of values while practicing a contradictory set of values defines itself as a hypocritical organisation. Has this contradictory behaviour towards the survivors of abuse by Australia’s clergy been addressed? Not at all by Mr Weigel’s analysis. That this is not mentioned as a factor in the public’s outrage by Mr Weigel means his “analysis” is simplistic and selective. The very absence of any discussion regarding the Papal Secret and its implications is a sure indication that the Church is not practicing what is preached in the spirit of and obedience to the message of Jesus for Jesus preached that we should not hide our sins. This is the central message of restored relationship with our Heavenly Father yet the Church contradicts this truth of Jesus by having this Papal Secret. Can any one see this very dynamic of betraying the message of Jesus. Where are the canon lawyers and the theologians on this one?
        Now back to the few who i want you all to have some regard for. Be real! How do you think Mr Ellis will feel about Cardinal Pell’s prison diary……or doesn’t he count in your scheme of things?

        • As I mentioned in a previous post, it doesn’t matter how long and convoluted your arguments are. No one here is buying what you are selling, especially your, “I only really care about the victims” narrative.

          In earlier posts, you mentioned that you were aware of inappropriate behaviors and violations that were taking place. Yet when the time came to act, you said and did nothing. That makes you complicit in those actions.

          Lying and bearing false witness are violations of God’s law, so you need to stop doing that. Put your own moral and spiritual house in order instead of constantly pointing the finger at others. “Unless you repent you will likewise perish. “

          • Thank you, Athanasius. Your posts aer wonderfully concise. I know mine are long, probalby too long; somehow I feel I have to point out every error in his posts in detail, and of course that takes a long, long, long, long time.

        • “Wrong again Leslie. That is way too conveniently simplistic.”

          The irony of your calling anybody “wrong” and “simplistic” is very, very rich.

          “What you have done again is to frame the debate and place the intent of my comment smack bang in the middle of your false assumption where it is easily attacked and ridiculed. My comment is not about the cardinals abuse related legal proceedings, and the few who i’m referring to have nothing to do with it.”

          We are talking about a journal written by a man who was wrongfully imprisoned. If you were talking about anything else, you should have said so. Anybody who would get bent out of shape over that isn’t worth listening to.

          “Like it or not there are some people who are not liars, nor are they bearers of false witness.”

          And like it or not, there are some who are liars and are bearers of false witness; and the man who accused Cardinal Pell of abuse is one of them, and it seems fairly obvious that those who claim he knew about abuse and covered it up are, too.

          “They are the ones who lived through the reality of being abused by clergy. They are to ones who where re traumatized by the Catholic Church’s response to this travesty. At the core of my dismay and grief is a statement i made when first posting here: “A church that preaches one set of values while practicing a contradictory set of values defines itself as a hypocritical organisation.”

          If you spent even a quarter of the time you spend on moaning about the sins of others (and they are *not* sins of the Church, they are sins of some members of the Church) on examining your own sins, you’d be much better off.

          “It is in this context that i make this statement;
          “For the few it will be like rubbing salt into their open wounds”

          Salt can clean wounds, as it happens. In any event, as you are explaining it now what you seem to be saying is that no priest, bishop, cardinal, or even the Pope should write any books because anybody who has a grievance, real or imagined, against the Church might be upset about it.

          “and that is not a good nor is it a holy thing.”

          Detraction is not a good nor is it a holy thing.

          Cardinal Pell did not commit the crimes of which he was accused. He was acquitted. He says he did not know about the abuse that you claim he did know about, and to put it bluntly he has a lot more credibility than you or the biased Royal Commission at whose altar you worship.

          “The Church’s response to victims was and in many respects still is not in the spirit of the ministry of Jesus.”

          The Church ought to, in the instances of abusers, be a lot more like Jesus when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple; and ought to screen candidates for the priesthood more carefully, without listening to the psychiatrists and psychologists who seem to have helped cause the problem in the first place. But what exactly do you think the “spirit of the ministry of Jesus” requires that isn’t being done? The Church has set up ways for the abuse to be reported and dealt with. The Church has apologized. What exactly, specifically, are you demanding?

          “Cardinal Pell’s personal response is a part of the overall response of the Australian Church and that of Rome where the secret files from Melbourne, Ballarat, Newcastle and the rest of Australia are now stored.”

          Have you heard of that marvelous new invention, the “photocopier?” What gives you the idea that, if papers were sent to Rome, copies were not also kept in Australia? Who says they weren’t?

          “Do you ever have a thought for these people who are part of the wider history and story that Mr Weigel’s selective and targeted narrative never includes or considers? That other commentaries and analysis at CWR never seem to take into detailed consideration either.”

          They have nothing to do with the false conviction and ultimate exoneration of the Cardinal, nor with the Royal Commission’s bias. I am saddened and horrified by the abuse; I have compassion for people who were abused. That does not mean that none of the people who accuse others of abuse, or of knowing about abuse, are liars or deluded.

          “Given the prolific number of times you have commented on my posts, it is telling that you have not once commented on any of my postings where i have mentioned the Papal Secret and the fact that all Australian Archbishops, Bishops, and priests where duty bound to comply with.”

          The only thing it tells is that I don’t have time to destroy all of your posts as they so richly deserve. As it happens, I have no problem with Secreta continere. It’s quite short, and lists ten areas that are to be kept confidential. The only one that could be considered to include sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people is “Extrajudicial denunciations of crimes against the faith and morals or against the sacrament of Penance, while safeguarding the right of the person denounced to be informed of the denunciation, if his defence against it makes this necessary. The name of the person making the denunciation may be made known to him only if it is judged necessary to have a face-to-face confrontation between denouncer and denounced.” You make it sound as if the Pontifical Secret was solely and specifically written to cover accusations of child abuse. And I notice that it covers extrajudicial denunciations. Says nothing about accusations of criminal behavior made to police.

          “Again I say A church that preaches one set of values while practicing a contradictory set of values defines itself as a hypocritical organisation.”

          “A church,” huh? We’re talking about *the* Church, and while some the Church’s members may be hypocrites, the Church is not. The Church teaches the truth (not just “values”), but some of Her members choose to sin. You are sitting in judgment the Church, rejoicing that you are not as other men are. It’s not a pretty picture.

          “Has this contradictory behaviour towards the survivors of abuse by Australia’s clergy been addressed?”

          Clarity would be your friend if only you would let it be. What “contradictory behavior?”

          “Not at all by Mr Weigel’s analysis. That this is not mentioned as a factor in the public’s outrage by Mr Weigel means his “analysis” is simplistic and selective.”

          So you are saying that all the spite, viciousness, and hatred aimed at Cardinal Pell, and the Church, is the result of this perceived hypocrisy? Bilge. The chief perpetrators of the spite, etc., are radical left-wingers who hate the Church, hate the teachings of the Church, hate God, and are all gung-ho about abortion, marriage of already-married people, homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” the pretence that people can change from one sex to another – in fact, the only perversion they profess to dislike is pedophilia, and I’m reasonably sure that if it weren’t a convenient club with which to beat the Church, they’d be out pushing that, too.

          “The very absence of any discussion regarding the Papal Secret and its implications is a sure indication that the Church is not practicing what is preached in the spirit of and obedience to the message of Jesus for Jesus preached that we should not hide our sins.”

          I don’t remember that Jesus preached that. Are you next going to insist that the sacrament of Confession should be that one stands up at Mass and publicly denounce oneself for one’s sins?

          “This is the central message of restored relationship with our Heavenly Father yet the Church contradicts this truth of Jesus by having this Papal Secret.”

          Where does Jesus say that there should be no secrets?

          “Can any one see this very dynamic of betraying the message of Jesus.”

          Only you. Which ought to give you a hint.

          “Where are the canon lawyers and the theologians on this one?”

          Probably not flailing madly and frothing at the mouth, which is why you have no fellow-feeling for them.

          “Now back to the few who i want you all to have some regard for. Be real!”
          How do you think Mr Ellis will feel about Cardinal Pell’s prison diary……or doesn’t he count in your scheme of things?”

          In this particular matter, no, he doesn’t count, in this sense: He’s under no obligation to read the prison diary. That doesn’t mean that nobody else should be allowed to.

          • Keep up the good work! I couldn’t respond to your earlier post, but thanks for the feedback. Our different styles are like the Navy. Sometimes a single torpedo from a submarine does the trick (me), while other times, the fleet of battleships is necessary to dismantle the fortress of deceit one line at a time (you). The combined forces make quite a formidable defense of the truth.

  5. Leslie and Athanasius, I’m reminded of the saying; if you silence the critics everyone agrees with you.
    Your reply’s indicate a strong desire to shut my voice down. With respect to honest debate you have placed me as one who is with those who are –
    “…radical left-wingers who hate the Church, hate the teachings of the Church, hate God, and are all gung-ho about abortion, marriage of already-married people, homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” the pretence that people can change from one sex to another – ”
    I am none of those descriptors nor do I support their agenda.
    If I didn’t love the church I wouldn’t be here. I would have other matters to pursue.
    I regularly read and keep in mind the moderators request to those who post here:

    All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilised and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.

    Anthanasius, this previous comment of yours from the discussion on the topic Minds That Hate was in my mind not in keeping with the above guidelines. If I’m not mistaken It was posted in obvious reference to myself:

    “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.” John 8:44

    I am surprised the moderators saw fit to allow its publication.

    And Leslie if you had time you would destroy all my posts as they so richly deserve. Oh well I’m’ lost for words.

    I have endeavoured to be reasonable honest and clear in my communication and accept many here will not agree with the things I say.
    We have here an online presence representing the Catholic Church in America as it brings news from the world and commentary mainly from American writers. Then in the comments section we have what i see as the American World Retort, an often sharp critical and angry response, often lacking in the scope of its knowledge and set in common assumptions that do not convey a broad expression of a complicated world. Yet it is a valid expression of many things that are wrong with the world. There are those who hate the church and would wish to destroy it. There are those who where unjust in their condemnation of Cardinal Pell. America has a large population of Catholics but only a very regular few comment here. This is a pity.
    As an Australian I came here in response to Mr Weigel’s narrative on Australia in reference to Cardinal Pell.
    I believe my perspective has some value and has something worthwhile to consider. No one side of a debate encompasses all truth of the matter at hand.

    • Portraying yourself as a victim, though totally predictable, is nevertheless manipulative and unbecoming. A few points to consider:

      1. You fail to see the irony and hypocrisy of quoting the site’s moderation policy to silence your critics, not realizing that those same moderators have patiently and graciously allowed you to post your fraudulent narratives repeatedly on many different occasions. You demand a freedom for yourself that you readily deny to others.

      2. You fail to see the irony and hypocrisy of claiming to want an honest debate that allows multiple perspectives, and then whining when people subject your posts to careful and critical analysis, which is actually the very essence of thoughtful debate. You operate under the false assumption that you should be able to post your misinformed treatises without comments or criticisms. That’s not how it works. Anything you write is subject to critical evaluation. If you cannot accept that, stop posting to the site.

      3. When you intentionally, repeatedly, and maliciously participate in lies and false accusations, you are, in no uncertain terms, doing the work of your father (John 8:44). That verse and its implications stand as they relate to your posts. Those are Jesus’ words, not mine, so if you have an issue with that, you will need to address that to Him. If you look into the mirror and don’t like what you see, don’t blame the mirror.

      4. Lastly, you claim to have had knowledge of inappropriate and harmful behaviors among the clergy, but you ultimately said and did nothing. That makes you complicit in those crimes, and as a result, you have no moral authority or credibility to speak to these issues.

      Your posts demonstrate a disconcerting absence of self-awareness. The light shines on everything and everyone except yourself. You should spend some time reflecting on the spiritual and psychological implications of that. Here’s another verse for you to consider. I’d be remiss in my duties if I did not include one:

      “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom, but the one who does the will of my father…And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt: 5:21-23).

    • “Your reply’s indicate a strong desire to shut my voice down.”

      No, actually, it’s to destroy your arguents and perhaps have you come to your senses.

      “With respect to honest debate you have placed me as one who is with those who are –”

      I was discussing the fact that you continually deny that the vicious bias against Cardinal Pell is a result of his standing up to those who deny and attack Catholic teaching. What you believe about all those things has nothing to do with it. I wrote, “The chief perpetrators of the spite, etc., are radical left-wingers who hate the Church,” etc. Unless you are informing us that you are one of those chief perpetrators, the sentence does not apply to you.

      “And Leslie if you had time you would destroy all my posts as they so richly deserve. Oh well I’m’ lost for words.”

      Clearly not.

      ” Then in the comments section we have what i see as the American World Retort, an often sharp critical and angry response, often lacking in the scope of its knowledge and set in common assumptions that do not convey a broad expression of a complicated world. Yet it is a valid expression of many things that are wrong with the world.”

      Your dislike of Americans has previously been noted, and not only by Americans, if I recall correctly.

      “There are those who where unjust in their condemnation of Cardinal Pell.”

      It’s good to hear you acknowledge it – finally.

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