That final verdict came after George Cardinal Pell endured a grueling eight years of accusations, investigations, trials, public humiliations, and more than a year of imprisonment after being convicted by an Australian court of a crime he did not commit.
Led off to jail in handcuffs, following his sentencing on March 13, 2019, the 78-year-old Australian prelate began what was meant to be six years in jail for "historical sexual assault offenses”. Cardinal Pell endured more than thirteen months in solitary confinement, before the Australian High Court voted 7-0 to overturn his original convictions. His victory over injustice was not just personal, but one for the entire Catholic Church.
Bearing no ill will toward his accusers, judges, prison workers, journalists, and those harboring and expressing hatred 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.
“The Pell prison journal demonstrates that the Australian High Court’s decision freed a man who could not be broken: a man whose vibrant Christian faith sustained him under extraordinary pressures. . . . Like More and Fisher, George Cardinal Pell took his stand on the truth, confident that the truth is liberating in the deepest meaning of human freedom. The journal you are about to read illustrates that liberation in a luminous way.”
—George Weigel, from the Introduction
“Jesus himself, Saints Peter and Paul, Ignatius of Antioch, Ignatius Loyola, Edmund Campion, Thomas More, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr, Edith Stein, Walter Ciszek, SJ . . . the list goes on: women and men of towering faith, whose hope was tested in jail. Now we can add to the litany Cardinal George Pell, a confessor of the faith, unjustly jailed but never defeated.”
—Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
“Two lessons emerge from this astonishing work. The first lesson is the length to which a hate-filled judicial process will go against an innocent man—a process redeemed ultimately by Australia’s High Court, but not before soiling the credibility of a nation’s legal system. The second is the power of a good man’s endurance in the face of humiliation and poisonous deceit. Cardinal Pell is a superb writer and an articulate witness to an inexcusable abuse of law, but also to the triumph of God’s grace. His journal is a marvel."
—Charles Chaput, OFM Cap, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
“This book provides a window into the soul of a man enduring the crucible of imprisonment, false accusation, loss of reputation, and deep uncertainty in regard to his future. What is nothing short of astonishing is what we come to see through that window: not bitterness, anger, and fear, but rather equanimity, graciousness, calmness of spirit, and forgiveness toward his enemies. Anyone interested in what radical surrender to Christ looks like should read this luminous text.”
—Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; Creator and Host, Catholicism film series