People who joined Cardinal Pell ‘pile-on’ guilty of ‘intellectual cowardice,’ says speaker

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff


March 17, 2016. Cardinal George Pell speaks with CNA at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on March 17, 2016. / null

Sydney, Australia, Mar 8, 2022 / 06:05 am (CNA).

People who took part in a “pile-on” against Cardinal George Pell are refusing to reconsider the case almost two years after the Australian Church leader’s acquittal, a speaker said on Tuesday.

Gerard Henderson, the author of “Cardinal Pell, The Media Pile-on and Collective Guilt,” told an audience in Sydney, Australia, on March 8 that this amounted to “intellectual cowardice” and, in some cases, “censorship.”

He argued that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia’s national broadcaster, and many of the country’s newspapers had overlooked critical accounts of the Pell trial and its coverage by the media.

“In short, members of the Pell pile-on will not engage in any reconsideration of the Pell case. In my view, that’s intellectual cowardice. In certain circumstances, it’s censorship,” he said.

Henderson was one of three speakers at the event “Lessons From the Pell Case – Two Years After the High Court Decision,” organized by the Sydney Institute, a current affairs forum.

Australia’s High Court unanimously overturned Pell’s conviction for five counts of alleged sexual abuse on April 7, 2020. The cardinal was released after more than 13 months of imprisonment and returned to Rome, where he had served as the Vatican’s economy czar.

Monica Doumit, the director of public affairs and engagement of the Archdiocese of Sydney, recalled that she was working for the archdiocese’s communications team when allegations against the cardinal were aired on an Australian television program.

Doumit, a columnist with The Catholic Weekly, a national Catholic newspaper, said that after the broadcast, she spoke over the phone to the cardinal, who was in Rome. As she returned home in the early hours, she received a call from a colleague at Pell’s behest. The caller explained that the cardinal was “really worried” about Doumit and wanted someone to check that she was OK.

“That’s the measure of the man we’re speaking about tonight,” she said. “And the reason I want to tell it is because when I look back on this, that’s actually the most important aspect of this for me, that first and foremost we’re talking about a man who cares deeply about other people.”

Doumit said that, two years on, many questions about the case remain unanswered. But she expressed hope that an ongoing Vatican finance trial would reveal why the Vatican sent more than $2 million to Australia during the Pell trial.

She said that Cardinal Angelo Becciu, one of the defendants, was connected to the transfer of funds from the Vatican to the tech company Neustar in Melbourne.

“So far witnesses at the trial have insisted that the money was sent to the Catholic bishops in Australia for the cardinal’s defense, but it’s demonstrably untrue,” she said. “We know the money went to Neustar.”

She noted that in a recent interview Pell challenged Becciu, who rejects all allegations of wrongdoing, to explain why the funds were transferred.

“Becciu has said he will not answer because to do so would be beneath the dignity of cardinals,” she said.

The third speaker, Father Frank Brennan, S.J., the author of “Observations on The Pell Proceedings,” described the proceedings against Pell as a “farce.”

Brennan, a human rights lawyer, said: “When we go with the mob with the highest level of judiciary, we forfeit the rule of law. That’s why the High Court majority, seven to nil, was so essential to restore the rule of law, for the good of bonafide complainants, for the good of victims, and for the good of citizens including those like Citizen Pell.”

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  1. If Pell was wrongly convicted, he stands in good company, for the Lord Jesus went through a mockery of a trial. He knows what he did or did not do, the matter being one of the eternal soul, with God as adjudicator.

    Exodus 23:7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.

    Exodus 23:1- “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. …

    1 Peter 3:16 Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.

    Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

    John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

  2. I always knew he was innocent.
    An absolutely admirable man.
    Truly courageous. Cardinal Pell makes me very proud of being Catholic.
    God bless him and protect him always!

  3. In the eyes of the Lunatic Left, Cardinal Pell will always be guilty, even if they are not sure what exactly he is guilty of.

    This is what happens when you substitute truth a narrative, and become ideologically and emotionally wedded to that narrative that, at the point the narrative gets shattered by truth and reality, you suffer emotional trauma and psychological damage.

    Cardinal Pell, like Kyle Rittenhouse, will never receive forgiveness for the crime of being innocent.

  4. Buongiorno.. conosco abbastanza il Cardinale Pell. Nel 2014 quando e diventato prefetto della segreteria per l’economia, sono stato scelto per essere a suo servizio come usciere/autista e non solo. Ho avuto piena fiducia da parte di tutto lo staff del Cardinale. Fin da sempre ero sicuro della sua innocenza. Il Cardinale è una persona che ti fa lavorare bene e ti mette a proprio agio.ho lavorato con S.Eminenza fino al suo ritorno in Australia per difendersi dalle accuse infamanti . Ero e sono sicuro della sua innocenza.persona stimata è direttissima. Da quando è tornato a Roma, ho incontrato almeno 5/6 volte. La prima volta era molto provato, ora si è ripreso benissimo. Mi dispiace tantissimo che il Papa non gli abbia dato un incarico.

  5. Why assume the easily influenced High Court is more credible than a jury trial and Court of Appeals ? And, even if the charges against Pell for alleged PERSONAL acts of abuse were false, why should he be absolved of all responsibility for predators like Risdale, whom he defended and protected ?

    • Have you actually read the decision of the High Court? And the dissent to the decision of the Court of Appeals by the one judge on it who had experience in criminal law?

      Cardinal Pell was tried for alleged personal acts of abuse. Ridsdale had nothing to do with the matter.

      The Cardinal did not “defend and protect” Ridsdale.

  6. Brian Young what happened to Cardinal Pell was a horrific hit job to ruin and destroy his reputation which is totally beyond repute. The good and holy Cardinal would have been a terrific papal candidate in the next conclave making him the first Pope from an English speaking country. The very same thing is now happening to Pope Benedict XVI. He too is a good and Holy man of God. Evil will not triumph! God is totally in charge and will ensure that next Holy Father will be the right man at the right time in Catholic Church and world history. Our Lady of Fatima pray for and protect Cardinal Pell and Pope Benedict XVI. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

  7. Unfortunately, some Conservative commentators such as Joseph Sciambra are filled with hatred for Cardinal Pell and sees the Church defending him as gas-lighting. Sadly, Joseph has now left the Catholic Church for the Russian Orthodox and his Facebook timeline is mostly him bashing the Catholic Church. So keep him in your prayers!

  8. Essentially we all have 3 things at our disposal, Truth, Reason and for those who choose, Faith. Issues relating to Cardinal Pell go well beyond the series of court hearings and final verdict this article refers to. As many readers here will be aware, I am one who often posted in terms considered hostile to Cardinal Pell. I would like to emphasise that my hostility was directed to a deliberate and sustained misrepresentation of the wider circumstances pertaining to Cardinal Pell that was evident in the writing on the subject, by George Weigle. His articles included vitriolic misrepresentations and condemnation of elements within Australian society and within the Catholic Church community who had years of involvement advocating for those wounded by the scourge of Clergy abuse. Mr Weigles writing to say the least, lacked nuance.
    One can not separate the sordid mechanisms of political manoeuvring from these discussions relating to Cardinal Pell. Gerard Henderson, referred to in this article is a prominent player in the arena of Australian politics as Mr Weigel is in the US political power play being a signatory of the Statement of Principals by The Project For The New American Century making him a key player in the Neo Conservative political movement.
    I stridently reject any accusation, implied by this article, upon my stated opinions in the many comments I have made on this site that I was involved in a pile on that also implied intellectual cowardice.
    I will go further to say it is evident to me that many ( and I will emphasise not all ) advocating for Cardinal Pell are guilty of intellectual dishonesty and deliberate selective misrepresentation that has had a direct impact on those in the church community of the state of Victoria in Australia. Your carelessness is more than evident for those who have lived close to the truth that they have been a witness of.
    To the CNA staff I say look at your headline to this article:
    “ People who joined Cardinal Pell ‘ pile-on’ guilty of ‘intellectual cowardice’ says speaker, the speaker being Mr Gerard Henderson.
    This statement endorsed by this website is an implied condemnation of Chrissie Foster, and all the other advocates, many of who I know personally who worked for and on behalf of the children abused by the clergy of Victoria, again I say because the subject matter goes beyond the specific legal case.

    I ask any one who cares to search and read my many contributions to discussions pertaining to Cardinal Pell in articles mainly written by George Weigell. Read them in context of linear dialogue as I stand by every word I have written.

    I have to the best of my ability been governed by truth, reason and faith.

  9. Christopher, you say “again I say because the subject matter goes beyond the specific legal case.

    Yes! Absolutely!

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  10. I am an ex prison officer and I am totally disgusted in how Mr Pell was treated by the Victorian legal system. I am very sure that his physical treatment by both Police and most Prison guards would have been awerful.I hope that God will bless him in every way and forgive those who were such bastards towards him.

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