George Pell: The backlash to cardinal's sexual abuse conviction
March 8, 2019 5:13 am
Cardinal George Pell is awaiting sentencing for sexually abusing two boys in 1996. The verdict, which he is appealing against, has stunned and divided Australia in the past week.
It has sparked strong reactions from the cardinal’s most prominent supporters, some of whom have cast doubt on his conviction in a wider attack on Australia’s legal system.
The largely conservative backlash features some of Australia’s most prominent media figures, a university vice-chancellor and a leading Jesuit academic, among others.
Former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott also continue to maintain their public support for the ex-Vatican treasurer.
But critics of the backlash have raised concerns about its broader impact on abuse victims.
On Sunday morning at St Mary’s Cathedral, where Pell was Archbishop of Sydney for 13 years until 2014, parishioners were also maintaining their faith in the prelate.
A few metres away from a faded plaque of Pell, an elderly man clutching a handful of church leaflets declared that Pell was innocent.