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Cardinal Pell to publish prison diary musing on case, church

UPDATED: Sat., June 20, 2020

By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

ROME – Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican finance minister who was convicted and then acquitted of sexual abuse in his native Australia, is set to publish his prison diary musing on life in solitary confinement, the Catholic Church, politics and sports.

Catholic publisher Ignatius Press told the Associated Press on Saturday the first installment of the 1,000-page diary would likely be published in Spring 2021.

“I’ve read half so far, and it is wonderful reading,” Ignatius’ editor, the Rev. Joseph Fessio, said.

Fessio sent a letter to Ignatius’ email list asking for donations, saying Ignatius wanted to give Pell “appropriate advances” for the diary to help offset his legal debts. The publisher envisages putting out three to four volumes and the diary becoming a “spiritual classic.”

Pell served 13 months in prison before Australia’s High Court in April acquitted him of molesting two choirboys in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city during the 1990s.

In the diary, Pell muses on everything from his conversations with lawyers about his case to U.S. politics and sports and his reform efforts at the Vatican. He wasn’t allowed to celebrate Mass in prison but on Sundays watched an Anglican choir program and offered an appraisal “generally positive, but sometimes critical also” of two U.S. evangelical preachers, Fessio said in an email.Pell had long insisted he was innocent of the molestation charges and he suggested his prosecution was linked to his fight against corruption in the Vatican, where he served as Pope Francis’ finance czar until he took a leave in 2017 to face trial.

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