Australia: New Action Brought Against Cardinal Pell

July 18, 2022

Cardinal George Pell is being targeted by a new procedure, as reported by the ABC net site. The father of a former altar boy has indeed launched a civil action against Cardinal George Pell and the Catholic Church, even after the cardinal was found not guilty in criminal proceedings.

Recall the Facts

In December 2018, Cardinal Pell was found guilty of abusing two altar boys in the 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne. But two years later, Australia's High Court overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision, and the cardinal - who has always maintained his innocence - was released. He currently resides in Rome.

In 2014, one of the former altar boys died of an overdose. A year later, his father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was notified by police of the alleged abuse of his son.

He has now launched a legal action against Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The father is suing the cardinal and the Church for “damages for nervous shock” related to the discovery of the sexual abuse allegations.

This man and his lawyers from Shine Lawyers claim that the Cardinal and the Archdiocese were negligent, which resulted in injuries, losses, and damages. The complaint alleges that Cardinal Pell is responsible for his moral injury because it was reasonably foreseeable that he would suffer nervous shock upon learning of the alleged abuse.

He and his lawyers say the archdiocese failed in its duty of care to this father, which caused his harm.

He seeks general damages, special damages, and compensation for “past loss of earning capacity and past and future medical and similar expenses.” The amount he is asking for will be revealed if the case goes to trial.

The Danger of Civil Actions

Shine Lawyers legal director Lisa Flynn said the criminal case and the High Court's decision would not affect civil proceedings. Indeed, as reported by, according to the Australian legal system, in criminal proceedings, the guilt of an accused must be proven beyond doubt, while plausibility is sufficient for a conviction in civil proceedings.

“The High Court has made certain decisions regarding the criminal proceedings against [George] Pell, our case is a civil case against George Pell and the Catholic Archdiocese. There are different paths to justice,” the lawyer said.

Without prejudging the turn of the complaint, it must be admitted that this action looks more like legal harassment than an impartial search for the truth.