Vatican 'welcomes' Cardinal Pell acquittal

A statement from the Holy See. Cardinal Oswald Gracias said "certain from the outset" of the acquittal. The Archbishop of Bombay said he believed the accusations were "absurd".


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Holy See, "which has always expressed confidence in the Australian judicial authority, welcomes the High Court’s unanimous decision concerning Cardinal George Pell, acquitting him of the accusations of abuse of minors and overturning his sentence".

This was the statement issued by the Vatican today following the prelate’s acquittal. The note from the Holy See Press Office went on to read: ”Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence, and has waited for the truth to be ascertained. At the same time, the Holy See reaffirms its commitment to preventing and pursuing all cases of abuse against minors."

Cardinal Oswald Gracias received the news stating that he was “certain from the outset” of the acquittal. The archbishop of Bombay said he believed the accusations were "absurd". The cardinal revealed that he had "spoken with Australian judicial experts and we talked about it from a legal point of view and I had the impression that 'perception and pressure' played a huge role".

Card. Gracias also said that the matter was not discussed in the Council of 9 cardinals, adding that "for my part there was a total conviction of the innocence of Cardinal Pell".

When asked about this acquittal, and whether it could dissuade others from reporting allegations of child abuse, Cardinal Gracias said: "Certainly not, this was a matter of justice. Any accusation must be investigated and examined by an impartial body of both civil and ecclesial courts and reach a moral certainty of the truth."

"Absolute zero tolerance does not mean that injustice can be done, that an innocent can be sentenced, the principles of natural justice should always be observed. Whenever there is a doubt, we cannot be blind to the doubt, I agree that we must arrive at a moral certainty whether the person is guilty or not guilty. In jurisprudence, moral certainty is like a pendulum that oscillates in one way or another, zero tolerance is a principle that remains, but so too does the principle of natural justice and the question of moral certainty. The truth prevailed, justice prevailed and this is a sign of Easter.”

Lastly, responding to AsiaNews, Sister Arina Gonsalves, who is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said that "this news is of great relief also for the Catholic faithful of Australia". "The Holy See spokesman - he added - took note of the decision of the Australian High Court to acquit Card. George Pell, aware that the cardinal has always affirmed his innocence ".

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