“I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice.” These words, issued by George Cardinal Pell upon his acquittal on Tuesday, should both heal and haunt the Catholic Church.
There can be no justice if there is no truth. And, even in the wake of inexcusable abuse by Catholic bishops, the truth cannot be sacrificed to appease a mass demand of blood for blood. The victims of priests will not find restitution by victimizing priests.
After a five-year legal battle, and in a surprising turn, Cardinal Pell was released from prison after the Australian High Court unanimously overturned his conviction on five counts of historical child sex abuse. In a statement after the ruling, His Eminence said: “I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.” That hurt, and that bitterness, run all too deep, as Cardinal Pell knows all too well.