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In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus of the French Army was convicted of treason on the grounds that he had given military secrets to France’s mortal enemy, Germany. The charge was false; Dreyfus, a Jew, was framed. His trial was surrounded by mass hysteria and people with no grasp of the facts celebrated when Dreyfus was condemned to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in French Guiana, the horrors of which were vividly captured in the film Papillon.
The Dreyfus Affair roiled French politics for the better part of a generation, pitting “Dreyfusards” (mainly secularist and republican) against anti-Dreyfusards (primarily royalist and Catholic). The stench of anti-Semitism hung over it all; one Catholic who refused to succumb to that ancient psychosis was Pope Leo XIII, who told the editor of the Paris newspaper Figaro that Dreyfus’s suffering reminded him of Calvary. In 1906, the Dreyfusards saw their man vindicated, but the wounds in French society caused by the Dreyfus Affair remained open and festering long after Dreyfus returned to the army and served honorably in World War I.
Conviction - Cardinal - George - Pell - December
The conviction of Cardinal George Pell in December 2018 on charges of “historic sexual abuse” is this generation’s Dreyfus Affair.
Ever since those charges were laid a year and a half ago, an atmosphere of public hysteria, fueled by secularist anti-Catholicism, has surrounded the case. That hysteria was intensified by the global Catholic sex abuse crisis, despite the fact that Cardinal Pell had been the leading Australian bishop fighting sex abuse. It is inconceivable that this Dreyfus-like public atmosphere did not have a distorting effect on Cardinal Pell’s two trials. Though the trials were held under an Australian media blackout, irrationality and venom, stoked by media bias, had already done their work.
Cardinal - Trial - Fall - Jury
The cardinal’s first trial last fall ended in a hung jury that voted 10-2 for...
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