Cardinal George Pell Loses Appeal, Will Continue to Serve Sentence
Six months ago, one of the world’s most senior Catholic officials was sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing children. Today, that cleric has had his appeal denied.
We are grateful for this news and hope it brings comfort to survivors of clergy abuse throughout Australia. Denying the appeal mounted by Cardinal George Pell helps send the message that no matter how powerful a person is, they are still subject to the rule of law. It is extremely rare for any church official to see time behind bars and given the crimes he has been convicted of committing, a prison sentence is clearly deserved.
The sentence imposed on Cardinal Pell – a mere six years in prison – was already light, so we are glad that the sentence was not reduced further on appeal. We are grateful to the police and prosecutors in Australia who have been involved with this case since the beginning and hope that today’s news will encourage others who may have experienced abuse at the hands of Cardinal Pell – or any priest, nun, deacon or other church official – to come forward, find help and start healing.
We also call upon all priests, nuns, prelates and other lay people in the church that have witnessed Cardinal Pell’s behavior over his career to follow Pope Francis’ new motu proprio and report any suspicions about abuse they have. And while the Pope’s law only requires internal reporting, we hope that those with information will report to law enforcement as well. Pope Francis’ new law protects whistle-blowers from punishment or retribution, so we hope that whistleblowers will come forward. Where Catholic leaders once sought to cover up abuse in a dangerously misguided attempt to protect the Church, the pope himself has now demanded the opposite.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org; our Australia website is SNAPAustralia.org)