I suppose it should come as no surprise how little faith the Catholic church as in the jury system. In this article, a church that invented the Spanish inquisition points the finger at the Victorian Appeals Court for upholding the jury conviction of Cardinal George Pell. George Weigel and Anthony Charles Smith join a long line of Catholic advocates claiming that the Cardinal has not been accorded his right to presumption of innocence.
Weigel states: “The charge of sexual abuse, however prima facie implausible, now trumps the traditional legal standard in the Anglosphere that innocence until presumed until guilt if proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A close reading of the majority opinion supports the fear that this standard was effectively reversed in Cardinal Pell’s case, such that the onus was on him to prove his innocence.”
No, I don’t think juries are above prejudice.
But neither are judges or senior counsel. Under the Australian system, guilt in criminal matters should be decided by juries not judges.
A number of other priests and intellectuals writing from their grates are trying to undermine the jury system. They seem to have forgotten that George Pell has been granted the presumption of innocence, ever since Pell’s exploits in Bathurst came publicly known some 40 odd years ago. Much worst, Pell was presumed innocent enough to be accorded the privilege of covering-up similar crimes committed by others and to ruthlessly pursue the victims should they get some obscure fact wrong in re-telling an ordeal of sexual torture by a Catholic prelate, brother or sister.
Of course we should be mindful of false accusation but we should no longer be lectured from the pulpit. I went to Catholic schools where I was taught by Brigidine Sisters and Christian Brothers. I was never sexually assaulted nor did I ever witness someone being attacked in this way. For the most part, I was schooled by strict, sometimes harsh teachers, who were trying to control classes way too big. At times my teachers had way too little grasp of the subject being taught and resorted to the strap, especially when ‘found out’ by a bright pupil. For example Br Charles ‘Basher’ Dillon was a thug. Charlie taught me in Junior. He used to come up behind me and slam my head down on the desk in front and then he would haul me up by the lobe of an ear and berate me in front of the class. Basher did that and worse to others in my Junior year. I’m not making excuses for Dillon, but he had to teach us because the Brother who took our class had a nervous breakdown ans did not turn up for 2 weeks before Basher replaced him.
Fortunately there were also exceptions, I had the benefit of being taught by Br ‘Doc’ Campbell at Gregory Terrace who had an excellent grasp of Latin and Roman history, he made a dead language come to life. I had a good French teacher at a time when the jocks reined supreme in our school and any hint of appreciation of education and learning had you labelled a ‘poofter’ by the other boys under protection from the Brothers. To fight back often resulted in humiliation by sexually repressed adults struggling with repression imposed by a church run by right-wing finactics like Pope John Paul II.
Here is one of the articles published in support of Pell in the September 2019 Issue of The Annals so judge for yourselves. – Ed. WBT