Pell is innocent but sadly our society is not

Our quest to rid the earth of child sexual abuse must continue.

Today’s declaration by the High Court of Australia that Cardinal George Pell is innocent is great news.

My prayer has been that justice would be done. Based on the evidence in the public domain, it has always seemed implausible that Cardinal Pell could have committed the crimes of which he was accused. The High Court today has found this to be so.

It found that both the convicting jury and the Victorian Court of Appeal should have found that “reasonable doubt” existed.


Child sexual abuse is a terrible blight on the church and all perpetrators deserve punishment and the church must make amends. For many victims and survivors, amends can never be enough.

But there was something terribly pernicious about the way a baying mob went after Cardinal Pell. The community's rightful desire for justice on behalf of victims should never be allowed to morph into a campaign against any individual. Pell is hated with unusual vitriol by the left and it would seem this has influenced the campaign against him.

Justice for victims of child sexual abuse is not served by the satisfaction some might feel in locking up a big scalp. All that does is makes our society less free for everyone. If Cardinal Pell could be targeted like this, any of us who put forward unfashionable opinions in the public square could be.

Our quest to rid the earth of child sexual abuse must continue. It is to Christianity's eternal shame that it was found in our ranks and the work of compensating survivors must also continue. Child sexual abuse has been removed from the church but this is of course little comfort to those who have survived. 

It remains elsewhere in our society, particularly in readily accessible on-line pornography on so-called mainstream sites like Pornhub. I would argue that wherever porn is tolerated, children are not safe, but that is a view not shared by our wider society and certainly not by our political class.

If only the hatred of Pell could be turned towards hatred of Pornhub and porn in general.

So today, justice has been done for one man. But injustice remains tolerated in our society even by the law. And to its eradication we must continue to devote ourselves.