By Sahar Mourad For Daily Mail Australia Apr 2020, updated 09 Apr 2020
Cardinal George Pell was acquitted of child sex abuse and freed from prison
The 78-year-old is expected to retire in Sydney after convictions were quashed
Pell was hoping to beat the convictions early and return to the Vatican for his job
He was in charge of the church’s finances following multiple financial scandals
Cardinal George Pell will spend the rest of his retirement in Sydney where he feels more comfortable and can move around more freely, according to reports.
The 78-year-old travelled from Melbourne to Sydney on Wednesday stopping briefly at a servo to buy a phone charger and newspapers.
He arrived at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, in Sydney’s inner west, at around 9pm on Wednesday.
It is understood that he will spend the rest of his retirement at the seminary, where he has briefly lived before.
Pell had hoped to return to Rome but there has been no job offer from the Pope and his previous role has been filled.
He had been appointed at head of the Secretariat for the Economy to fix the church’s finances following a number of financial scandals.
But the role was handed over to Spanish priest Fr Juan Antonio as Pell continued to fight child sex abuse charges.
Cardinal Pell was freed from jail on Tuesday after Australia’s top court ruled he had not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
In 2018, a jury convicted him of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. The cleric has maintained his innocence.
Pell was released after spending 405 days in Barwon Prison, in regional Victoria.
He spent his first day of freedom driving up to Sydney where he is expected to spend the rest of his retirement.
During a pit stop at a petrol station on the Hume Highway in Victoria, the Cardinal told media he was ‘very pleased’ to be free.
He apologised for not dressing better, saying he wasn’t expecting company on the trip.
‘Before you arrived, it was better here,’ he told media at the service station when asked about life behind bars, before adding his prison experience was ‘not too bad’.
He also asked reporters to adhere to social distancing and not get too close to him.
A pit stop at a petrol station on the Hume Highway in Victoria for a phone charger and a newspaper, the Cardinal told media he was ‘very pleased’ to be set free. A child’s tricycle is seen on the gate of the Carmelite Monastery (pictured) where Cardinal George Pell stayed on Tuesday night after being released from prison.
One of George Pell’s accusers accepted the high court’s decision to overturn his child sex abuse conviction – saying the law is ‘weighed in favour of the accused’.
Known as Witness J, the former choirboy came forward after another accuser died in 2014 and claimed he too was abused by the cardinal.
He said he understood there must be ‘due and proper process’ in a civil society, but feared the system was flawed – leaving many child sex offenders unpunished.
‘I respect the decision of the High Court. I accept the outcome,’ Witness J said in a statement released by his lawyer, Vivian Waller.
‘It is difficult in child sex abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt.
‘I understand why criminal cases must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt.
‘No-one wants to live in a society where people can be imprisoned without due and proper process. This is a basic civil liberty.
‘But the price we pay for weighing the system in favour of the accused is that many sexual offences against children go unpunished.’
But Witness J said he hoped the outcome wouldn’t discourage child sexual abuse survivors from coming forward, and reassured them ‘most people recognise the truth when they hear it’.
‘I am content with that,’ he said.
In a statement on Tuesday, Cardinal Pell said he bears no ill-will toward the man, now in his 30s.
The decision has been divisive and police are now investigating the vandalism of Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral.
‘Rot in Hell Pell’ was emblazoned on the doors of the cathedral where he was alleged to have abused the two choirboys.
Cardinal Pell is nearly 80. He spent most of life as a junior and senior cleric and would have enjoyed much adulation.
Now his life is in tatters.
Legally and technically he has not been convicted of any crime and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
We cannot know what the future will bring.