Article by Leo Zagami
Cardinal George Pell will have his last chance to have his conviction for sexually abusing two 13-year old choirboys overturned when his lawyers plead his case to the High Court of Australia March 11-12. But the full bench of Australia’s highest court – either five or all seven justices – will take several months to determine the fate of the former senior adviser to Pope Francis. For now, Australia’s most senior Catholic will remain, as he has since his March 2019 sentencing, in virtual solitary confinement in a provincial prison. If the High Court fails to overturn the verdict of a 12-person jury that found him guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of child rape, Pell, 78, will spend at least 32 more months in prison.
However, the Vatican is hopeful. At the end of January, a French cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon and the most high-profile French Catholic cleric to face trial, accused of covering up the sexual abuse of minors, has had his conviction overturned after an appeals court determined there was no “intentional element”in his failure to report a predatory priest to the police. But there is also another problem for the Vatican that is preparing to release the results of an internal investigation into Theodore McCarrick, the infamous former cardinal and archbishop who was defrocked last year after the exposure forced the Vatican to admit he was found sexually abusing minors.
So for all these reasons, Vatican officials will now be watching the appeal by Cardinal George Pell closely, the most senior Catholic figure in the world to be jailed for .