Letter to Cardinal George Pell

+ George, Cardinal Pell
C/- Corrections Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001 Australia

23 August 2019

Reverend Father,

I write to offer you whatever little encouragement I can and I hope these words do not seem presumptuous, as I imagine you have a reservoir of spiritual strength that will help you and also give comfort to those who are fortunate to be part of your enclosed community.

You will not know me. I met you briefly on two occasions in the Pontifical Beda College in Rome (2008-2009) when you were visiting your Australian students and I was taking my turn in the refectory waiting on the Rector’s table; and also in the seminary bar in conversation, introduced by a fellow student whose archbishop you were. As always in such encounters, the brevity of the pleasantries and the formality of the occasion allow only a sketchy impression to be formed. I also heard you preach on two occasions in Rome.

From such superficial encounters, it would be fair to say that I do not know you at all; yet I can say in honesty that you created a positive impression and I regard you as a sincere man who creates an unusually clear mark of goodness. Why else would I be writing now?

I know nothing of your journey, your human relationships, your spirituality, nor your dealings with the various factions within the Roman Curia in your reforming role. Though – like anyone who reads the press – I have seen references to the latter. So, I have a simple view of you formed from occasional passing moments.

I have no idea how this present calamity has happened to you but I would like you to know that I believe you. I have not taken the trouble to read the details of the case against you, but I have considered the broad circumstances and I am clear in my own mind that I take your side and the offence is too improbable. Also your enemies have much to gain by concocting a case against you. The process of law must nevertheless be applied and sadly it has not found in your favour yet.

I hope and pray that your appeal to the highest court will succeed. In the meantime, I know you will use the opportunity for contemplation, like Saint Paul, Saint Francis, Saint John of the Cross – and many more – who were forced into penal solitude but used the opportunity to renew their faith and find strength in the Lord.

You remain in my prayers and I ask you to pray for me.

Pax et bonum,

Gareth Thomas

Plaza Torreta 17, Finestrat, Alicante 03509, Spain.


  1. Prisoners are not allowed email. The above letter has been written on paper in fountain pen and sent to Cardinal Pell. I encourage any who feel similarly sure of his innocence to also write to him.
  2. It is important to regard justice for victims of clerical abuse as paramount in our concerns, but also recognize that justice may not always be fairly applied, and use our judgment in particular cases accordingly.

3 thoughts on “Letter to Cardinal George Pell

  1. No dog in this fight, but I applaud your reasonable and supportive letter! We had an Eastern Orthodox bishop in Canada who was loved and respected by all until he was convicted for fondling two youths over 30 years before. He was reduced to lay status and now lives humbly in seclusion. I still doubt that he was guilty as do many others.

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  2. Thanks to both Jim and Grace for your comments. My letter is on its way to George Cardinal Pell. By the way, I should clarify that I am aware that the correct form of address in a letter to a cardinal is “Your Eminence”. I have chosen not to use that, but address him in my letter as “Reverend Father” because it seemed more suited to the circumstances and in a sense, less jarring.


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