I have been frustrated by news stories today suggesting that “disgraced” Cardinal George Pell has broken the law by posting material to social media.
Firstly, Cardinal Pell is not “disgraced.” It is the media and the Australian judicial system which are disgraced by the verdict against him, which was based on the evidence of a single witness, a person of zero credibility, whose testimony was inconsistent, and in several places demonstrably false. I have written about this before and will not repeat those discussions here. If you are interested you can find the relevant articles and others by me at this link.
Secondly, and obviously, Cardinal Pell did not post anything to social media, because he has no access to social media. He wrote a letter to a group of people who have supported him in prayer and fellowship. They posted a scanned copy of his letter in on Twitter.
Is there a law against publicising correspondence received from prisoners?
I hope not, because I have transcribed it and copied it below. It does not reference his alleged offences, or the accuser, or anyone involved in that sorry excuse for a trial. It is simply a pastoral letter from a minister of the Gospel to a group of friends.
Melbourne Assessment Prison
Dear Kathy and brothers and sisters in Christ of the Support Cardinal Pell group.
First of all let me thank you for your prayers and messages of support, these being immense consolation, humanly and spiritually.
A word of explanation. I have received between 1500 – 2000 letters and all will be answered. So far I have only responded to letters from my fellow prisoners (to nearly all of those who wrote) and a few other special cases. Your kindness is not forgotten and will always be fondly remembered.
My faith in our Lord, like yours, is a source of strength. The knowledge that my small suffering can be used for good purposes through being joined to Jesus’s suffering gives me purpose and direction. Challenges and problems in Church life should be confronted in a similar spirit of faith.
We must always remember that the Catholic Church is one, not just in the sense that good families stick together whatever their differences, but because the Church of Christ is based in the Catholic Church, which constitutes the Body of Christ. One ancient saying teaches that there must be unity in essentials (Jesus’s essentials) but there can be diversity in non-essentials. But everywhere and in everything we must have charity.
I agree that we have reasons to be disturbed by the Instrumentum Laboris of the Amazonia Synod. This is not the first low quality document the Synod secretariat has produced. Cardinal G. Müller, formerly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written an excellent critique. I am no expert in the region but I have been to Ecuador and Amazonian Peru, where a Sydney priest Fr John Anderson runs a parish of exemplary piety, pastoral activity and orthodoxy. As in the Amazon a lot of water has yet to run before the end of the Synod.
One point is fundamental. The Apostles’ Tradition, the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, taken from the New Testament and taught by Popes and councils, by the magisterium, is the only criterion doctrinally for all teaching on doctrine and practice. Amazon or no Amazon, in every land, the Church cannot allow any confusion, much less any contrary teaching, to damage the Apostolic Tradition.
The Spirit continues to be with the Church. You have every right to make your voices heard, reasonably and in charity. We need not expect the worst.
Yours in the Lord,
Your grateful brother
+George Card. Pell