George Pell, Cardinal Acquitted of Child Sexual Assault, Writes About Suffering in Easter Op-Ed

George Pell, the Australian cardinal acquitted of child sex abuse allegations, has written an Easter opinion piece exploring the topic of suffering.

Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s, but was released from prison earlier in the week after Australia's High Court overturned the verdict. The cleric served 13 months of a six-year prison sentence.

The conviction made Pell the most senior member of the Catholic Church to be jailed for child sexual abuse. At the time, he was an adviser to Pope Francis and the Vatican treasurer. The cardinal had described the allegation as "a load of absolute and disgraceful rubbish."

In a piece for The Weekend Australian headlined "In the suffering, we find redemption," the senior member of the Catholic church ruminated on atheism, the coronavirus, child sexual abuse, and his jail time through the lens of Easter.

"I have just spent 13 months in jail for a crime I didn't commit, one disappointment after another," wrote Pell. "I knew God was with me, but I didn't know what He was up to, although I realized He has left all of us free.

"But with every blow it was a consolation to know I could offer it to God for some good purpose like turning the mass of suffering into spiritual energy."

cardinal george pell, australia, getty
Cardinal George Pell arrives at Melbourne County Court on February 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Everyone is faced with "a couple of questions" including "what should I do in this situation? Why is there so much evil and suffering? And why did this happen to me? Why the coronavirus pandemic?" Pell wrote.

While the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed the gods as capricious, atheists "believe that the universe, including us, is the product of blind chance," and adherents of "radical agnosticism" argue "we don't know and perhaps we don't want to know," he wrote.

Pell wrote that "the sexual abuse crisis damaged thousands of victims. From many points of view the crisis is also bad for the Catholic Church, but we have painfully cut out a moral cancer and this is good."

When Pell won his appeal last week, the High Court said the jury in his trial "ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offenses for which he was convicted."

Pell said in a statement on Monday: "I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice," adding: "This has been remedied today with the High Court's unanimous decision."

Dr. Cathy Kezelman, president of the Australian victim support group the Blue Knot Foundation, said in statement that for an accuser to "have to prove that you were abused and betrayed can be more than overwhelming given the profound impacts of trauma."

Kezelman said: "The child sexual abuse pandemic within the Catholic church has threatened the safety of millions of children, the adults they become and the very moral fiber of what it means to be human.

"Pell now has his freedom, but many abuse victims have never been free—trapped in the horror of the crimes which decimated their lives."