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Pope tweets about persecuted Jesus after Pell verdict


Pope Francis tweeted about the persecution of Jesus and those suffering from an “unjust sentence because someone had it in for them” soon after the High Court overturned child sex abuse convictions of former Vatican treasurer, Cardinal George Pell.


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“In these days of Lent, we’ve been witnessing the persecution that Jesus underwent and how He was judged ferociously, even though He was innocent,” Pope Francis said on Twitter following Pell’s release.

“Let us #PrayTogether today for all those persons who suffer due to an unjust sentence because of someone had it in for them.”

The pope did not name Pell in his comments.

Pope Francis also offered his morning Mass to those suffering an “unjust sentence”.

“I would like to pray today for all those people who suffer unjust sentences resulting from intransigence,” he said before the start of the Mass. 

He did not name Pell, who he put in charge of Vatican finances in 2014.

But Francis compared the suffering of those inflicted with unjust sentences today to the persecution of Jesus by Jewish community elders, with “obstinacy and rage even though he was innocent”.

The pope chooses an intention for Mass each day before leading the service in his residence.

In recent weeks, the pope’s intentions for nearly all of his daily Masses have been related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The High Court’s ruling quashed convictions that  Pell sexually assaulted the two choir boys in the 1990s.

It allowed the 78-year-old to walk free from jail, ending the case of the most senior figure accused in the global scandal of historical sex abuse that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican welcomed the court’s ruling, praising Pell for having “waited for the truth to be ascertained”.

A statement said the Vatican had always had confidence in Australian judicial authorities and reaffirmed the Holy See’s “commitment to preventing and pursuing all cases of abuse against minors”.

It noted that Pell had always maintained his innocence.

An investigation of Pell by the Vatican was mooted at the time of his conviction but never formally begun.

Francis appointed Pell to overhaul the Vatican’s vast finances in 2014.

Pell had remained a cardinal but lost his treasurer role in the run-up to becoming the highest-ranked Catholic official worldwide to be jailed for child sex offences.

He was serving a six-year sentence on one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four charges of an indecent act with a child under 16, which the plaintiff said took place when Pell was archbishop of the city of Melbourne.

The seven judges of the High Court agreed unanimously that the jury in the cardinal’s trial “ought to have entertained a doubt” about his guilt, ordering his conviction be quashed.

“I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough,” Pell said in a statement shortly before he was driven away from the maximum security Barwon Prison near Melbourne.

At 78, three years past the age at which bishops and Vatican officials normally hand in their resignation, Pell is not expected to return to a Holy See job.

Pell had been on a leave of absence from the post, whose formal title is Prefect for the Secretariat of the Economy, since 2017.

Cathedral vandalised

After his release from prison yesterday,  “Rot in Hell Pell” was painted on the doors of Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, while “the law protects the powerful” was spray-painted on the cathedral forecourt.

Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said he wasn’t surprised by the vandalism.

“There’s such strong emotions around all of these matters,” he told Melbourne’s 3AW radio on Wednesday

He said he hoped people would consider the High Court judgment and see the decision in its legal context, but expects people will keep their original positions about the cardinal.

Pell’s former private secretary Father Mark Withoos told Sydney’s 2GB radio if it weren’t for the coronavirus crisis “perhaps those involved in this terrible miscarriage of justice would be forced to resign”.

Premier Daniel Andrews has refused to comment on the High Court’s decision, but on Wednesday said people, particularly Catholics, had to face the fact there are people who moved predators across parishes.

“Others who knew that it was going on facilitated it and whether they’re in jail or not, they’ll have to go to their maker knowing they did those sorts of things,” he told radio station Triple M.

-with AAP

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