George Pell held in solitary, praying and writing
George Pell is spending his jail time in solitary confinement writing and reading extensively and praying ahead of his appeal against sex-crime convictions.
Pell, 77, has continued his lifelong practice of writing as part of his routine to fight off the solitude of 23 hours a day in a cell at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.
But the inevitable and necessary constraints of the prison have prevented the convicted child-sex offender from saying mass inside, with basics such as wine not available to inmates.
Friends of the cardinal, who was sentenced to six years’ jail for his offences, have reported that he is “remarkably robust’’ and has been inundated with letters from supporters and is visited regularly.
“He is being treated well,’’ a friend told The Weekend Australian, which understands that Pell’s core visitors are family and his closest friends.
Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli intends to visit Pell, as does Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher.
The process of getting on the prison list of approved visitors can take time, with prisons highly bureaucratic.
Pell wrote extensively during his court hearings last year but friends do not believe a book is necessarily being considered.
Throughout his career, the cardinal has kept extensive notes and records of his work, including sermons. “I would not deduce that he’s doing a book. I suspect that is most unlikely,’’ a friend said.
“He’s a spiritual person. He’s not able to say mass and I suspect that will be the most significant privation for him.’’
Friends said Pell felt he was being treated well within the prison but potential threats to his security meant he was being kept isolated from other inmates.
Pell was convicted of sexual offences against two teenage choirboys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997, when he was the archbishop of Melbourne.
The sole surviving complainant was described by observers as being credible and convincing in his evidence.
The jury found he and the fellow cathedral chorister had been abused by Pell.
Yet the conviction has divided opinion, with the cardinal receiving strong support from some sections of the Catholic and legal communities.
He has been inundated with mail supporting him and his legal fight for an appeal.
Pell was handed a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
On June 5 and 6, lawyers for Pell will contest the convictions based on alleged unreasonableness, the judge’s banning of video evidence in the closing address and the composition of the jury.
The appeal will be run by Sydney silk Bret Walker SC.
While Pell’s supporters are optimistic that the appeal will be successful, there is also a concern from his friends that the cardinal’s team had been optimistic that all charges against him would be thrown out.
He was convicted after a second trial, and the Vatican will defrock him if the appeal is not successful.
Until the appeal process is exhausted, Pell remains a cardinal.
In was reported recently that Pell has been held in a cell near Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas and brothers Ertunc and Samed Eriklioglu, who have been accused of attempting to kill as many people as possible in a public place.
The assessment prison has a facility to keep at-risk prisoners safe.
These prisoners generally spend 23 hours a day in their cells.
If Pell’s appeal fails, he is likely to be sent to a prison better equipped to deal with sex offenders.
Source : https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/george-pel