Prison Journal Volume 1: Cardinal George Pell
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That final verdict came after Cardinal George Pell endured a gruelling five years of accusations, trials, conviction, humiliation, character assassination, and finally more than a year of imprisonment after being convicted by an Australian court of a crime he didn't commit.
Led off to jail in handcuffs, following his sentencing on March 13, 2019, the 78-year old Australian prelate began what was to be six years in jail for "historical sexual assault offences." Cardinal Pell endured more than thirteen months in prison, eight of those in solitary confinement, before the High Court voted 7-0 to overturn his original convictions. His victory over an extreme travesty of justice was not just personal, but one for the entire Catholic Church.
Bearing no ill will toward his accuser, judges, prison workers, journalists, and those harbouring and expressing hate for him, the Cardinal used his time in prison as a kind of "extended retreat". He eloquently filled notebook pages with his spiritual insights, prison experiences, and personal reflections on current events both inside and outside the Church, as well as moving prayers.
"These prison diaries should never have been written. That they were written is a testament to the capacity of God's grace to inspire insight, magnanimity, and goodness amidst wickedness, evil, and injustice. That they were written so beautifully bears witness to the Christian character that divine grace formed in their author, Cardinal George Pell." George Weigel, from the Introduction