“We must always remember that the Church is one, not just in the sense that good families stick together, whatever their differences, but because the Church of Christ is based in the Catholic Church, which is the body of Christ.”
Following his conviction in the County Court of Victoria on five counts of child sexual abuse in December last year, Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months.
Legal experts and commentators have discussed the weight of evidence produced against Pell during the trial, noting that the conviction rests solely on the testimony of one of Pell’s alleged victims.
Attention has also been drawn to the plausibility of Pell’s apparent crimes, in which he is supposed to have sexually abused two teenage boys simultaneously in the Melbourne cathedral sacristy after Mass, at a time when the space would have been both crowded with people and exposed to view.
The verdict was immediately appealed by Pell’s legal team and the cardinal has remained in prison since that time.
On June 5-6, judges at the Supreme Court of Victoria heard Pell’s appeal against the jury’s decision. After extensive arguments from both sides, prosecutors appeared to falter under questioning by the judges.
Led by court president Justice Chris Maxwell, the lead counsel for the prosecution struggled to account for what the judge called the “wildly improbable” circumstances of Pell’s alleged crimes.
The judges have been considering their decision since the June hearing. Sources close to the case told CNA that a decision is expected within the next two weeks.
In the letter, Pell says that he has received between 1500-2000 messages of support during his time in prison, and that he intends to answer all of them.
The prayers and letters of the faithful, he said, “bring immense consolation, humanly and spiritually.”
“My faith in the Lord, like yours, is a source of strength.”
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