Australian Court Hears More Testimony in Cardinal Pell Pre-Trial Hearing

The cardinal’s hearing is scheduled to conclude March 29.

Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, outside Rome's Hotel Quirinale, March 3, 2016.
Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, outside Rome's Hotel Quirinale, March 3, 2016. (photo: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA)

MELBOURNE, Australia — New accusations were brought forward and others were dropped this past week during a pre-trial hearing in an Australian court regarding abuse allegedly committed by Cardinal George Pell.

The committal hearing for the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy took place at the Melbourne Magistrate Court and will allow magistrate Belina Wallington to determine whether there is enough evidence for a jury trial.

The total number of charges brought against Cardinal Pell are not public, although some of the charges previously brought against him date as far back as 1961. In January, a key charge was dropped after the complainant died of leukemia.

Cardinal Pell, 76, is being represented by four lawyers and intends to plead not guilty if his case goes to trial. He has said that “the whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

Last summer, Pope Francis granted him a leave of absence from his duties as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy while the claims are investigated. Cardinal Pell is also a member of the Pope’s council of nine cardinal advisers.

Prosecutors said March 23 that some charges against Pell will be dropped because a witness is unable to testify due to being “medically unfit to give evidence.”

The court also heard this week from family members of people against whom Cardinal Pell allegedly acted inappropriately at a public swimming pool, a showering area, a movie theater and a church. Other witnesses denied having ever seen Cardinal Pell acting inappropriately.

The Vatican has refrained from stating a judgment or opinion on the case, pending the outcome of the investigations by the Australian court.

The cardinal’s hearing, which began March 5, is scheduled to conclude March 29.

José Benlliure Ortiz, “Leaving Mass in Rocafort,” 1915

On Suffering and Hope and Forever

‘In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.’ (CCC 1368)

José Benlliure Ortiz, “Leaving Mass in Rocafort,” 1915

On Suffering and Hope and Forever

‘In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.’ (CCC 1368)