“Thank you for your testimony.” With these words, Pope Francis greeted Cardinal George Pell who, on coming out of Covid-19 quarantine, went to meet the Pope in audience.
Martyr in the Greek language means “witness” or “testimony.” In essence it is the basic call of every Christian, every follower of Jesus Christ, to give testimony to their Lord in their everyday existence. There is little doubt that Cardinal Pell’s prison stay of 405 days, though innocent of the charges levelled against him and cleared by Australia’s highest court in a unanimous 7-to-0 decision, was a credible witness to faith in more ways than one.
The Cardinal has already spoken of the importance of faith in carrying him through the trial of being falsely accused. Despite differing advice about the necessity to return to Australia, it was the Cardinal’s express wish to do so and “have his day in court” to clear his name. Few believed that it would take three years to do so. Fewer imagined it would take also such a long stay in jail.