Christ is near to us all, Cardinal Pell tells Italians at Easter

Cardinal Pell Easter 2020 Cardinal George Pell, Prefect Emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, April 2020. Photo courtesy Fr. Mark Withoos.

In a video message sent to his Italian friends to mark Easter Sunday, Cardinal George Pell recalled the joy of Christ's Resurrection, and said that despite coronavirus measures He is close to each of us.

"How can I not think with sadness of the many who have died, particularly many priests. But what joy we must find in our faith in the Risen Lord that, in Him, one day, please God, we will see them all again," he said in his April 12 message.

"And for those of us who go on living, let us draw new strength and comfort from the Risen Lord. How close He is to all those who suffer, to those sick and in pain, to those falsely accused, and particularly to those who are alone. Lean on Him. Draw close to Him. For the Lord, there is no such thing as social distancing. He is looking for you."

Cardinal Pell affirmed to the Italians that "I am close to you–we are close together–through our faith and the magnificent reality we proclaim this day: The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!"

Calling Italy his "adopted country," he said he thought often of his friends there while imprisoned, "particularly as all of you closed yourselves indoors as a result of this terrible pestilence."

"Now, as we proclaim the Lord risen–in an ironic way as I enjoy freedom again–I want to witness to you 'Have faith, despite it all, this trial too will end.'"

Cardinal Pell was convicted by a civil court in December 2018 of sexually assaulting two choirboys at the Melbourne Cathedral in 1996. On April 7, the Australian High Court unanimously ruled that the evidence presented during the trial would not have allowed the jury to avoid reasonable doubt and ordered Cardinal Pell's acquittal and release after more than 400 days in prison.

The High Court's Tuesday decision marked the end of a nearly three-year legal process which began in June 2017, when the cardinal was charged with several counts of sexual assault dating back decades. The majority of these charges were dropped before they could be brought to trial.

The cardinal concluded his message: "From the depth of my heart I greet you with a warm 'buona pasqua' hoping and praying that around our Easter dinner tables we can all raise a glass in a brindisi - a cin cin - to distant friends."

"Christ is Risen, He has risen indeed, Alleluia! Buona pasqua!"

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