Following his conviction in the County Court of Victoria, Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months. Pell has remained in prison since that time.
Across two days of hearings on June 5-6, judges from the Supreme Court of Victoria heard Pell's appeal against the jury's decision on three separate grounds. Local media coverage broadly reported that the argumentation presented in court appeared to favor Pell.
On day two of the hearings, court president Justice Chris Maxwell called the circumstances of Pell's alleged crimes "wildly improbable."
This first ground of appeal is that the unanimous decision of the jury could not have risen to the level of "beyond reasonable doubt" because of the unchallenged exculpatory evidence of 20 witnesses during the trial.
The second ground concerns the decision of the trial judge, Peter Kidd, to exclude a video presentation by defense lawyers which would, they maintain, have illustrated to the jury the implausibility of the victim's narrative.
The third ground is a procedural appeal concerning Pell's arraignment, which was not carried out in front of any jury members, a fact the defense argues was a "fundamental irregularity."
On Aug. 9, The Australian reported that appellate judges had been considering last minute questions on that issue, focused on whether the use of a video link was sufficient to substitute for members of the jury being present at the time when Pell would have been expected to enter a plea.
If the court were to accept the appeal on procedural grounds, a retrial would likely be ordered and the prosecution of Pell would have to start from the beginning.
Many of Pell's supporters say they hope the judges will overturn the jury's verdict entirely, ruling that no decision of guilt beyond reasonable doubt was possible in the light of the evidence, and setting the cardinal free.
Should the court reject all three grounds and allow the conviction to stand, Pell's legal team has confirmed that he will not seek to appeal the length of his prison sentence.
In the meantime, Pell remains in prison where, according to the text of the letter sent to CNA last week, he has received more than a thousand messages of support from members of the faithful.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Pell wrote to supporters that he has been sustained in his incarceration by his faith and by the prayers of the faithful, and that he is offering his suffering in prison for the good of the Church.
The full text of the letter is reproduced below.
Melbourne Assessment Prison
Dear Kathy and brothers and sisters in Christ of the Support Cardinal Pell group,