“They can just say, ‘Well, it was sent for this, that, and the other thing,’ we'd say ‘very good,’ and we'd get on with our life,” he said.
Pell’s first appeal, to the country’s supreme court, was denied by 2-1. Disheartened, he at first did not want to pursue further appeals.
It was never the plan to write about his time in prison, he told CNA. Namely, he did not think he would ever be in this situation to begin with.
“I realized that it's a bit unusual for cardinals being jailed in western democracies, so that, you know, people might be a bit interested in my account of how that worked,” said Pell, on deciding to publish his diaries.
“I never dreamt that I would be found guilty,” he said to CNA. “I knew that nothing had happened and there wasn’t one witness who supported the complainant.”
One of the boys who Pell was said to have abused died in 2014 of a heroin overdose at the age of 30. He never reported being abused.
The surviving complainant “changed his story 24 times” during the course of the trial, Pell said.
Despite this, Pell told CNA that he “never felt any great antagonism towards the complainant.”
“I've never met him even when he was in the choir,” he said. Pell described his accuser, who he saw on video screens, as a “wounded, worried person.”
In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Pell said that he had forgiven his accuser, and that he made the conscious decision to forgive him.
“I realized that whatever else was true about him, he’d suffered in his lifetime,” Pell told the Register. “When he gave evidence, I had thought he wasn’t particularly together.”
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Looking ahead, Pell told CNA that while he would like to see some sort of inquiry into his case and how the miscarriage of justice was allowed to go on for so long, he does not see that happening.
“I'd welcome such an inquiry,” he said. “But while the present government remains in power in the state of Victoria, I can’t see that happening.”
Pell acknowledged that in the past, “authorities were very reluctant to believe that complainants were speaking the truth” about clerical sexual abuse. “And that was very wrong.”
“And now, I think, the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. And some people are inclined to believe that the person must be guilty if such a person is accused [of some sort of crime].”
This has resulted in what Pell called “a considerable amount of injustice,” as “there’s no justice for one party if there isn’t justice for all.”
He said there is a need for “a mechanism so that people who have been abused can complain and will have their complaints treated justly and sensitively, and have access to compensation and counseling.”