In what is probably the least surprising news of the weekend, a planned ‘Day of Prayer’ for convicted child sex offender George Pell has been called off in Melbourne.

Pell, once Australia’s most senior Catholic and the third-most powerful man in the Vatican, was recently found guilty of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s.

A flyer for the Day of Prayer, which was to be held this morning at the Nazareth House Chapel, was spotted this week in the suburb of Camberwell.

The flyer included a quote from Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, who had earlier said:

“If we are too quick to judge we end up joining the demonisers or the apologists, those baying for blood or those in denial. Our [Sunday] readings remind us that things aren’t always what they seem; that we must look beneath the surface and allow truth and justice to unfold in God’s good time.”

You can see the flyer below:

George Pell

Many on social media questioned the reasoning behind the event, asking why a day of prayer was not instead being held for the victims of Pell’s abuse, or the numerous other victims of child sexual abuse within the church.

“What about a day of prayer for the choirboys?” asked journalist Lucie Morris-Marr, whose book Fallen, about the trial and conviction of Pell, is due out in August.

While it’s unclear whether the event was cancelled because of public backlash or because someone simply had an attack of common sense, a sign displayed outside the chapel earlier this morning indicated that the event was not going ahead.

Numerous high profile public figures have come out in support of George Pell since his conviction, including former PM Tony Abbott, who pretty much refuses to accept the guilty verdict.

Tasmanian academic David Daintree was criticised this week for an opinion piece in an upcoming edition of the Catholic Standard, in which he labelled Pell’s critics as “wicked. He wrote:

“I know Cardinal Pell well. I like him and respect him. I simply cannot believe that he is guilty. Pell is a tough man and he will, by the grace of God, survive the wickedness of his accusers and the silence of many who should defend him but won’t.”

The Archdiocese of Hobart pulled the piece from publication after concerns were raised, and Daintree himself apologised, claiming it was “never” his intention to cast doubt on survivors.

Pell is due to be sentenced on March 13, but has lodged an appeal.

Source: SBS News
Image: AAP / Andy Brownbill