High-ranking Catholic cardinal spent 404 days in jail — here’s what he wrote while there
SAN FRANCISCO — The first volume of Cardinal George Pell’s prison journal is set to be published as a book and an e-book by Ignatius Press in early 2021 and as digital installments starting on August 17, 2020. The unprecedented work, PRISON JOURNAL: THE CARDINAL MAKES HIS APPEAL, features the writings of a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who was unjustly convicted of sex abuse until his appeal was unanimously overturned by the Australian High Court and encompasses his 404 days in solitary confinement.
Cardinal George Pell, as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, which had been newly created by Pope Francis to manage the finances of the Vatican, was accused of sexually assaulting choir boys in his former cathedral during the 1990s. So sure that the charges were false, the cardinal voluntarily left Rome for Australia to stand trial. The trial ended in a hung jury, but when the case was retried, Cardinal Pell was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison.
“PRISON JOURNAL is going to be a spiritual classic,” said Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., editor of Ignatius Press.
On April 7, 2020, after fifty-nine weeks in jail, the High Court in Australia overturned his conviction and Cardinal George Pell was finally free. PRISON JOURNAL contains his reflections not only on the pain of being falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned, but also on the meaning of suffering in the life of a Christian and the divine command to forgive one’s enemies.
“I hold no ill will to my accused, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough,” Cardinal Pell said in a statement after his acquittal.
Cardinal Pell was subject to immense vitriol during his trial as the State of Victoria sought to convict him with no corroborating evidence or witness testimony. He maintained his innocence throughout the trial and during his prison time. Indeed, the High Court, when it overturned his conviction, said that there is “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.”
PRISON JOURNAL “is a testament to the capacity of God’s grace to inspire insight, magnanimity and goodness amidst wickedness, evil and injustice. That it was written so beautifully bears witness to the Christian character that divine grace formed in its author, George Cardinal Pell,” said George Weigel, author of “The Next Pope,” in his introduction.
Please visit www.PellPrisonJournal.com for more information about the book. Digital installments of PRISON JOURNAL will be available starting on August 17, 2020, for $5 per month.
For more information, to request a review copy or to schedule an interview with Cardinal George Pell, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or [email protected]) of Carmel Communications.