The incarcerated Cardinal George Pell is facing an investigation by Australian prison authorities, after images of a letter he sent to supporters were posted on social media.
Pictures of the two-page letter were posted on Twitter Friday by the “Cardinal Pell Supporters” account. According to Australian prison regulations, inmates are not permitted to access social media, or to enjoin others to make social media posts on their behalf.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Community Safety in the state of Victoria said the “activity” on the Cardinal Pell Supporters Twitter account would be “thoroughly investigated.”
Sources close to the supporters group told CNA that Pell had given no instructions for the letter to be posted on social media, and that the account had recently been deactivated.
“The cardinal wrote a pastoral letter to his supporters, he certainly didn’t instruct anyone to post it on Twitter,” one person close to the group told CNA.
“That decision was taken by others, and I’d hope they wouldn’t do it again.”
Another person familiar with the letter’s distribution told CNA that the cardinal was intent on abiding by the terms of his imprisonment and, despite his incarceration, is still engaged with wider events in the Church.
“I think the cardinal was very clear in his letter that he has immense concern for those who are praying for him, but also for the whole Church; he always has. He’s still a bishop and a cardinal after all.”
The text of the letter and images of the original were separately shared with CNA and reported Aug. 9. The prison rule specifically relates to social media use by or on the cardinal’s behalf, and does not include reporting on the contents of the letter by media outlets.
Sky News Australia said the letter “compares the cardinal’s suffering to that of Jesus Christ.”
In fact, Pell wrote that “The knowledge that my small suffering can be used for good purposes through being joined to Jesus’ suffering gives me purpose and direction.”
The incident comes as Pell’s legal team prepare to receive a decision from a Court of Appeal on Pell’s appeal of his conviction on five counts of child sexual abuse in December last year.
Sources close to Pell told CNA that his legal team is preparing for a decision as early as this week and that, while they are hopeful of a favorable outcome, “every possibility is being considered, nothing is being taken as read.”
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