I’m not a Catholic. I abhor paedophilia. I’m not particularly enamoured of George Pell. Yet, I can’t escape the uneasy feeling that the most egregious miscarriage of justice in Australia since the Chamberlains has been perpetrated in Pell’s case.

What’s even more telling is that legal experts on all sides are openly aghast at what they see as a blatant travesty of justice. When Greg Craven of the Australian Catholic University criticises Pell’s trial as a lynch mob, that might be dismissed as partisan whining. But when left-wing activist-lawyer Greg Barnes does the same, it’s worth taking notice.

Reaction to the now unsuppressed case against Cardinal George Pell was characterised by frightening ignorance on the part of many about how our legal system works, an awful sense of triumphalism on the part of some media who have pursued Cardinal Pell for some years, and above all the spectacle of a lynch mob literally screaming at the guilty man out the front of Melbourne’s County Court.

Barnes’ main concern is plainly the mob mentality surrounding the case, but it is plain to read between the lines his uneasiness at the entire proceedings.

Perhaps the most unseemly aspect of the Pell case aftermath was the mob baying for the ageing Cardinal’s blood and abusing his counsel, Robert Richter QC, as he entered the court building. This chaos was truly frightening…The triumphalism about the Pell verdict has been equally disturbing […]

The Pell case seems to have become a convenient vehicle for all of those who hate the Catholic Church and the Cardinal himself to vent their unseemly and unruly bile. There has been no respect or circumspection exercised…

Intriguingly, Barnes’ article, written earlier this year, eerily anticipated another development in the circus surrounding the case.

Now that Cardinal Pell is behind bars, no doubt his supporters and friends will be condemned for “reaching out” to him. If elements of the media and politicians condemn Cardinal Pell’s supporters for visiting him in prison, then once again another layer of civilisation will have been stripped from our community […] No person should ever be condemned for visiting a prisoner.


In fact, this is exactly what has happened. Former prime minister Tony Abbott has been vilified for visiting Pell in jail. Abbott is a long-time friend and supporter of Pell. With the case still ongoing – a High Court challenge will be heard early next year – what would we otherwise say of someone who abandoned a friend in their darkest hour?


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