Cardinal George Pell, accused in 2017 of sexual abuse, was transferred in 2019 to a prison in Melbourne, Australia, sentenced by his country's justice system to six years in prison. Despite the lack of evidence and under fire from the media, the Cardinal served more than a year there, after which the Supreme Court, in a unanimous verdict, acquitted him and cleared all charges.
The first part of his Prison Journal has just been published in Poland. Asked by the Polish Catholic agency KAI on October 27, 2021, Cardinal Pell spoke about his “human experience” and the future of the Church.
The former Archbishop of Sydney and Prefect of the Secretary of the Economy spent more than a year for his alleged crime in a unit where inmates are sentenced to solitary confinement and never meet. The humiliation of being in prison is the first of the crosses: “It was a humane punishment, and it was certainly not a stay in a hotel,” said the cardinal.
“I knew I was innocent. I was aware that the most important judgment awaited me before the Creator. However, the Australian prelate does not hide “having never been absolutely certain to be exonerated during the Australian trials.”
In his Journal the cardinal specifies that when asked about undeserved suffering, he had the habit of answering that “the Son of God, Jesus, was not given a walk in the park.”
In this maximum security prison, there were “major criminals who chose to stay that way,” says the prelate, but also other prisoners who “clearly distinguish good from evil and recognize the existence of good.” An inmate regularly corresponds with the cardinal, who describes him as a "”friend.”
Aged 80, the Australian prelate will not be able to participate in the next conclave. However, he does not hesitate to mention what he would like to know before the conclave.
“I would like to tell the future Pope that one of the most important challenges is to maintain the purity of the apostolic tradition. We are servants and defenders of the teachings of Christ and the apostles. We are not allowed to remove parts of it or to belittle it. We are not the masters of the apostolic tradition.”
Recalling that the apostasy is spreading, Cardinal Pell clarifies: “In a way, we are coming back to what society was like in the Roman Empire.” It was “a brutal society of slavery, violence, and infanticide. People did not recognize their obligations to sick people.”
“Pity and compassion were seen as bad qualities, weaknesses. People did not believe in forgiveness. The pagan society of the future will be much more difficult and less lenient than our society.”
The prelate asks that “good Christians and people of good will join forces,” in order to “limit and control any bad changes.” And he stresses the need for people of good will who have the courage to act on their own convictions.