Australian Court Judgement Deemed a ‘Concocted Plot’ against late Cardinal Pell

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Australian Court Judgement Deemed a ‘Concocted Plot’ against late Cardinal Pell
Australian Court Judgement Deemed a ‘Concocted Plot’ against late Cardinal Pell

In what appears as a continued campaign against the Catholic Church in Australia, the nation’s High Court ruled against the Catholic Church, thus allowing the father of a boy allegedly abused by the late Cardinal George Pell to seek financial damages as a “secondary victim of child abuse.”

On February 8, the High Court of Australia ruled against the Archdiocese of Melbourne, laying down a ruling and a precedent with wide-reaching consequences. Under the ruling, a man known for legal reasons simply as “RWQ” is permitted to sue for damages against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and the late Cardinal Pell, citing the “nervous shock” that he states he endured after hearing about alleged sexual abuse of his son by Cardinal Pell during the mid-nineties.

The peculiarities about the case are many, including the fact that RWQ’s suit rests on the legal standing of it being “founded on or arising from child abuse”—abuse which is not proven in court and which was reportedly even denied by RWQ’s son prior to his death.

Background to Ruling

RWQ’s suit—filed in 2021—is purely for himself and not his son, who—according to the suit—died in April 2014 from a drug overdose, which RWQ attests was a habit born from the alleged abuse. According to RWQ’s suit, he was informed by Victoria Police about the alleged abuse of his son in July 2015, over a year after his son’s death.

The man argued that the Archdiocese of Melbourne failed in its duty not to cause him mental injury, also attesting that the Archdiocese is responsible for his son’s abuse—by virtue of the fact that the alleged abuser, Cardinal Pell, led the Archdiocese at the time of the alleged abuse.

For its part, the Archdiocese’s legal team employed the “Ellis defense” to argue that RWQ could not file his suit since he was not a victim of abuse himself.

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The suit was heard by Victoria’s Supreme Court in August 2022, which decided that RWQ’s claim had legal grounding and could proceed against the Archdiocese based on a 2018 law that allowed for a claim “founded on or arising from child abuse.”

That August 2022 ruling was hailed by Chamberlains Law Firm in Australia as “another significant milestone in ensuring victims of historic sexual abuse are afforded redress. It accepts the enacted legislation is to protect not only those that endured institutionalized sexual abuse but also their loved ones that have developed significant psychological injuries as a result of the sexual abuse.”

The Archdiocese of Melbourne appealed the Supreme Court’s ruling in the state’s Court of Appeal, but in an August 25, 2023 judgment, the Appeal judges unanimously rejected the Archdiocese’s plea and upheld RWQ’s claim and right to file for damages.

In another attempt to defend itself in court, the Archdiocese appealed to the nation’s High Court but was once again ruled against in the February 8 ruling of this year. The High Court judges stated that the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s appeal had “insufficient prospects of success to warrant a grant of special leave to appeal.”

Lisa Flynn, the chief legal officer for Shine Lawyers representing RWQ, welcomed February’s result. In a public statement, she declared, “We have maintained from the outset that the Catholic Church can be held liable for the pain and suffering our client has endured as a result of the alleged abuse of his now-deceased son.”

Flynn accused the Archdiocese of having “made considerable efforts to exploit the legal system to extricate itself from these proceedings, and we are glad to see another loophole closed.”

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“When a child is sexually abused, their whole family suffers as they grapple with the resulting damage, including new family dynamics, changed behaviors, substance abuse and a life derailed as a result of these heinous crimes,” she said.

She urged others to “pursue justice,” stating that the ruling “affirmed the church can be held liable for that suffering.”

Centers on Cardinal Pell’s Case

In reading both the legal filings and the celebratory statements from Shine Lawyers, an aspect that appears as if it is verbatim is the issue of the alleged abuse. The instance of alleged abuse upon RWQ’s son is at the crux of the suit: were the abuse not implicitly accepted as a fact by the court, then RWQ could not have made his claim since his suit proceeded based on the 2018 law, which allowed for a claim “founded on or arising from child abuse.”

This abuse is alleged to have been committed by the late Cardinal George Pell at some point in 1996 when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Cardinal Pell died on January 10, 2023, a few days after the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI.

The historic charges of alleged sexual abuse made against the late cardinal are now internationally known, with the cardinal consistently and firmly maintaining his innocence throughout the Victoria court proceedings despite being vilified by the Australian and international press.

On May 12, 2019, the court deemed the cardinal to be guilty of abusing two choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the nineties and sentenced him to six years in jail on five convictions of the sexual abuse of minors.

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Despite Cardinal Pell’s lawyers arguing the charges against him were “unreasonable” due to a lack of evidence and an impossibility of circumstances, the judge ruled that Pell could not be paroled for three years and eight months, telling the 77-year-old prelate he may die in jail, and describing the offenses as “brazen and forceful” and “breathtakingly arrogant.”

A Cardinal Acquitted and Abuse Denied by Alleged Victim

However, after spending 405 days in prison, Cardinal Pell was unanimously acquitted by the Australian High Court on April 7, 2020.

The court explained that the jury who served Cardinal Pell’s guilty verdict, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offenses for which he was convicted.”

The judges also wrote that there was “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.”

Furthermore, the court fully exonerated the cardinal, ruling that the guilty judgments of 2019 “be quashed and judgments of acquittal be entered in their place.”

Indeed, an aspect of the entire case that has received little attention is that one of the alleged victims—no other than RWQ’s son—reportedly told his mother prior to his death that he had not been sexually abused. In a book by ABC journalist Louise Milligan, it was reported that RWQ’s son denied at least twice that he had been abused when questioned by his mother. Only after his death did the second alleged victim state that RWQ’s son had been abused.

At the time of Cardinal Pell’s release, Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt excoriated the “state institutions which tried so destroy a man loathed by the left as a conservative and chosen by the mob to be the scapegoat for his church.”

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Cardinal Pell returned to Rome following his acquittal and release, where he lived quietly until his death in January 2023.

Acquitted yet Always Guilty

Despite the High Court’s unanimous acquittal, his alleged actions appear to be accepted in principle—if not technically on paper—as having taken place, thus providing RWQ with the basis for his claim.

Cardinal Pell’s acquittal came before the filing of RWQ’s suit—a suit which sought damages from the Archdiocese and from Cardinal Pell for nervous shock “founded on or arising from child abuse.” While the suit does note that the reported abuse is “alleged,” the ruling implicitly ignores this distinction and portrays the late cardinal as guilty without doubt.

So also does the reaction of RWQ’s legal team, who welcomed their February 8 victory for families whose children are “sexually abused.”

Commenting on the ruling, U.K. catechist and author Deacon Nick Donnelly attested that the February 8 ruling was “another plot” to “blacken” the name of the late Cardinal Pell.

“Innocent of the ludicrous allegations for which he was unjustly convicted, Cardinal George Pell’s true ‘crime’ was that he staunchly upheld the Catholic Faith against the LGBT mob,” Deacon Donnelly told this reporter. “For this, he was demonically hated in anti-Catholic Australia for over twenty years.”

Deacon Donnelly was a very prominent supporter of the cardinal while he was serving his jail sentence in Australia. He regularly encouraged people to write to Cardinal Pell while in prison, asking them to show their support for the beleaguered cardinal.

The deacon stated that Cardinal Pell’s “complete exoneration by the High Court continues to infuriate his enemies. Now that Cardinal Pell is beyond their hate, the Australian anti-Catholic elites have concocted another plot to blacken his name through legal chicanery. But no matter their low cunning, Catholics around the world cherish his memory, knowing that Cardinal Pell is a martyr for the Faith.”

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