NEW YORK, N.Y. — The publisher of the prison diary of Cardinal George Pell said the text reveals the courage, conviction, and Christian charity of the cardinal.
“This journal reveals the Cardinal Pell I know and that every faithful Catholic should get to know,” Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press told CNA June 20.
Cardinal Pell “proclaimed Christ and the Church’s moral teachings without fear and with full knowledge of what the cost would be. And he paid the price with good humor and, like Christ, a love of his enemies,” Fr. Fessio added.
The publisher expects to publish in Spring 2021 either an abridged version of Cardinal Pell’s prison journal, which runs to 1,000 pages, or the first volume of the full text, Ignatius Press said Saturday. News of the text’s publication was first reported by AP.
Cardinal Pell was convicted in 2018 of multiple counts of sexual abuse. On April 7, Australia's High Court overturned his six-year prison sentence. The High Court ruled that he should not have been found guilty of the charges and that the prosecution had not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The cardinal’s case deeply divided Australia, as many legal scholars said there was not evidence to support allegations against Cardinal Pell, and criticized his trial.
Cardinal Pell spent 13 months in prison. The cardinal still faces a canonical investigation at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, though after his conviction was overturned, several canonical experts said it was unlikely he would actually face a Church trial.
Speaking to Australian students earlier this month, Cardinal Pell said his time in prison was “difficult and unpleasant,” but not the worst possible form of suffering. He said his time in prison reinforced the truth of Christian view of redemptive suffering.
“I’m still teaching the same Christian message,” Cardinal Pell told the Australian Catholic Students’ Association. “And I’m here simply to say that it works. Not in the sense that I was acquitted, but that this Christian teaching helped me to survive.”
Fr. Fessio sent a letter to Ignatius Press’ mailing list earlier this week notifying them that the journal would be published, and requesting financial support to offer Cardinal Pell “appropriate advances on these volumes, which he can then use to remove much of the worry he now has about his legal debts.”
“I’ve already read the first half of the journal and it is extraordinary,” Fr. Fessio wrote.
“I think it’s going to be a spiritual classic.”