Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 18, 2020 / 14:00 pm
Cardinal George Pell discussed the surprises, difficulties, and “gift” of everyday life in jail during a press conference this week to mark the publication of the first installment of his prison diaries.
Pell described his stint in prison as a sort of “spiritual retreat,” which he wrote about in his daily journal of incarceration, set to be published in three volumes. The first volume: Prison Journal, Volume 1: the Cardinal Makes His Appeal, was published Dec. 9.
During his 404 days in prison for crimes for which he was eventually acquitted, Pell said he kept the diary as a “historical record of a strange time,” and that he hoped that it would one day be published as a help to others going through hard times.
Due in part to his celebrity and the nature of his offenses, Pell was kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
“I felt that my reflections might be able to help people,” Pell explained on Dec. 16, “not just those in jail, but people going through tough times.”
While imprisoned, Pell was unable to celebrate the Mass for more than 400 days. This marked the first time in his half-century of the priesthood where he could not celebrate Mass. Pell said it “wasn’t as bad as it might have been,” and that he “had to make the best of it.”
Despite this, Pell said that “he knew that God was with me,” and added that the prison authorities were “decent” to him.
“They always allowed me to have my breviary, from the very first night,” Pell explained. “Eventually they gave me a Christian Bible.”