A ‘Spiritual Classic’

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by Paul Murano  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 26, 2020   

Cdl. Pell to publish prison diary

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MELBOURNE, Australia (ChurchMilitant.com) - After spending 13 months in an Australian prison, Cdl. George Pell is ready to publish a personal diary of his experiences, as well as his thoughts on the Church and the world.

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Fr. Joseph Fessio

(Photo: SF Weekly)

Pell, who spent much of his time in solitary confinement, is allowing Catholic publisher Ignatius Press to release his diary, which reportedly includes musings on his life in confinement, his legal case, the Catholic Church and his efforts at reform, as well as U.S. politics and sports.

Ignatius Press told the Associated Press Saturday that the first installment of the 1,000-page diary will likely be published in spring 2021. The company anticipates there will be three or four volumes in the set.

Ignatius Press founder and editor Fr. Joseph Fessio is asking his subscribers for donations, explaining that the publisher wants to give Pell "appropriate advances" for the diary to help offset his many legal debts.

Confidently Facing Accusers

Pell was charged in 2017 with molesting two choirboys in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne while serving as archbishop of Australia's second-largest city during the 1990s.

The cardinal insisted he was innocent of the allegations. Leaving Rome, he returned to Australia voluntarily to fight the charges against him. 

The publisher wants to give Pell "appropriate advances" for the diary to help offset his many legal debts.

In March 2019, Justice Peter Kidd sentenced Pell to six years in prison, declaring that by categorically denying the charges against him, the cardinal showed "no evidence of remorse or contrition" that would justify a reduction in punishment.

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Kidd's ruling was denounced by many faithful Catholics, who maintained the allegations against Pell were utterly without merit

Pell's defenders also condemned what they saw as a conspicuous lack of support for the cardinal inside the Vatican, in spite of the fact that, as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy from 2014–2017, he was the third-highest-ranking cleric in Rome.

Targeted for Uncovering Corruption?

Many have suggested that Pell's attempt to clean up Vatican finances and provide greater transparency was at the root of the Holy See's silence on the case, noting that since the cardinal's departure from Rome, others working to fight financial corruption in the Vatican have allegedly been silenced or forced out of a job.

Pell 'proclaimed Christ and the Church's moral teachings without fear and with full knowledge of what the cost would be. And he paid the price with good humor and, like Christ, a love of his enemies.'

They also point to the fact that a 2019 investigation by the Vatican prosecutor's office discovered "serious indications of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, money laundering and self-laundering" involving curial officials. 

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Justice Peter Kidd

In March, the High Court of Australia overturned the cardinal's conviction owing to insufficient evidence. In his first interview after acquittal, Pell described himself as a "scapegoat" and a target of a one-sided justice system.

A Likely 'Spiritual Classic'

Father Fessio believes the contents of Pell's diary reveal the cardinal's courage, conviction and Christian charity. "I've read half so far, and it is wonderful reading," he said. "This journal reveals the Cdl. Pell I know and that every faithful Catholic should get to know." 

Pell "proclaimed Christ and the Church's moral teachings without fear and with full knowledge of what the cost would be. And he paid the price with good humor and, like Christ, a love of his enemies," Fessio added.

Ignatius Press predicts that Pell's diary will one day become a "spiritual classic."

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