Cardinal George Pell will get another bid to overturn his child sexual abuse convictions after the High Court announced it would hear his application to appeal. Source: The Age.
Australia’s highest court said yesterday it had referred Cardinal Pell’s application to appeal his convictions to the court’s full bench after March 4.
The decision is a part win for the cardinal: he has not won the right to appeal, but two judges of the High Court ruled the matter should be considered by the full bench.
Cardinal Pell’s lawyers will now need to prepare for a hearing before seven judges. In that hearing, the High Court can reject the cardinal’s leave to appeal, or it can allow the appeal to proceed. If an appeal is permitted, the court would likely hear the appeal arguments on the same day.
Robert Richter, the prominent QC who represented Cardinal Pell at trial, said yesterday: “I hope the appeal comes on quickly.”
Immediately after the High Court’s decision was announced, Cardinal Pell’s lawyers held a meeting with him at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
Cardinal Pell is now able to apply for bail, although it is understood that he won’t at this stage.
Cardinal Pell, 78, who was once Australia’s most senior Catholic and rose to become the Vatican’s treasurer, is isolated from the general prison population, serving a six-year jail term. He will not be eligible for parole until he has served three years and eight months.
The decision to refer the matter to the full bench of the High Court means the Vatican will likely delay taking any action against Cardinal Pell. It will also delay the release of any findings against him made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said Cardinal Pell was exercising his right to appeal to the High Court.
“And the High Court has determined that his conviction warrants its consideration,” he said.
“This will prolong what has been a lengthy and difficult process, but we can only hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as reasonably possible and that the High Court’s judgement will bring clarity and a resolution for all.”
Statement from Archbishop Mark Coleridge, ACBC President (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Statement from Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP (Sydney Archdiocese)
High Court clears way for a George Pell rethink (The Australian)