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Bishop O'Kelly responds to Pell decision


As news of the Victorian Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the conviction of Cardinal George Pell reverberated around the world, Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ urged people to be sensitive to the needs of all.

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In a letter to the faithful, Bishop O’Kelly said the decision would give rise to a range of responses from people and spark “intense and emotive” media coverage.

“In any of our discussions and commentary we need to carefully consider, and be sensitive to, the needs of all, in particular the survivors of abuse and their families,” he wrote.

“We pray for all those affected by this case, remembering also Cardinal Pell as he faces the consequences of this decision.”

Bishop O’Kelly told The Advertiser that the court’s decision had an impact across all sectors of society.

“For some, the case and its playing out over two trials and an appeal has caused the most painful recollections to recur, memories of pain, the insult of degradation welling up again as the sufferings of institutional and clerical abuse are revived,” he said.

“For others who remain convinced of Cardinal Pell’s innocence, there has been distress and dismay.

“This is a case where there would never have been universal acceptance of the court’s decision, whichever way it went.

“We pray both that victims will be supported and we pray that the Catholic community will continue to take confidence in the knowledge of the reforms that have been initiated to ensure that children and the vulnerable in our care will continue to be safe and protected.

“Moving around the diocese I am reassured by the strong witness being given by so many fine people working devotedly in our schools, parishes and agencies, continuing the good work of the Church.”

The Vatican issued the following statement on the verdict:

“While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on February 26 after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal.

“As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.

“At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.”

Cardinal Pell’s legal team was still considering an appeal at the time of print.

Bishop O’Kelly’s letter can be found at


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