Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has welcomed the decision by the High Court of Australia to hear Cardinal George Pell’s case against his convictions for historical child sex offences.
“The Cardinal has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so, and the divided judgment of the Court of Appeal reflects the divided opinion amongst jurors, legal commentators and within our community,” Archbishop Fisher said.
“Many questions remain, and it is appropriate that these will be examined by our highest court. For the sake of all involved in this case, I hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as possible.
“The Church will continue to offer pastoral support to the Cardinal while he remains in prison awaiting the hearing of this appeal, and for all others affected by today’s outcome.”
The High Court will hear the Cardinal’s case from his legal team next year.
In August the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld a jury verdict convicting the 78-year-old in a 2-1 ruling.
Cardinal Pell is currently serving a six-year jail term with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
A spokesperson for the Cardinal said that as the matter is now still before the court “we are unable to comment”.
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Mark Coleridge said that the Cardinal has exercised the right all Australians have to appeal a conviction to the High Court.
“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.”