Pope’s pointed tweet following Pell decision
Pope Francis has raised eyebrows after appearing to offer his support to Cardinal George Pell, making comments about people who "suffer" due to a miscarriage of justice.
The Pope made comments in his Tuesday morning mass today, just hours after the High Court overturned Pell's conviction.
He then repeated similar comments again on Twitter, comparing the suffering of those wrongly accused to the persecution of Jesus.
The High Court today quashed convictions that Pell sexually abused two choirboys in the 1990s, allowing the former Vatican economy minister to walk free from jail. The ruling ended the most high-profile case of alleged historical sex abuse to rock the Roman Catholic Church.
"I would like to pray today for all those people who suffer unjust sentences resulting from intransigence (against them)," the Pope said on Tuesday, speaking before the start of the mass.
Pope Francis compared the suffering of those inflicted with unjust sentences today to the way Jewish community elders persecuted Jesus with "obstinacy and rage even though he was innocent".
The comments were a departure from the Pope's recent prayers in the Vatican. Over the past few weeks, the Pope has focused his daily masses on the effect of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In a tweet posted tonight, he urged his followers to pray for those who "suffer due to an unjust sentence because of someone had it in for them".
In these days of #Lent, we've been witnessing the persecution that Jesus underwent and how He was judged ferociously, even though He was innocent. Let us #PrayTogether today for all those persons who suffer due to an unjust sentence because of someone had it in for them.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 7, 2020
In the sermon and on Twitter he did not mention Cardinal Pell by name.
The tweet quickly drew hundreds of reactions from people who were shocked at the comment.
The Vatican had no immediate comment on the verdict on Cardinal Pell, which comes in the middle of Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter, the most important day in the Christian calendar.