Politics

John Howard’s Character Reference For George Pell Is One Of The Foulest Things You’ll Ever Read

"Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character."

John Howard pens foul character reference for Cardinal George Pell

Not content with being on the wrong side of history when it comes to climate change, marriage equality, Indigenous affairs, the Iraq war or the way we treat people seeking asylum, former Prime Minister John Howard has written a glowing character reference for convicted paedophile George Pell. And it is truly nauseating.

Warning: this article discusses sexual and child abuse. 

Cardinal Pell, the highest ranking Australian in the Catholic church, was convicted in December on five counts of child sexual abuse, although his conviction was initially subject to a suppression order, which is why you may only be hearing about it this week. He was back in court yesterday for a sentencing hearing, with his legal team offering up ten character references including one written by Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister.

In a fawning letter to the court dated February 26, Howard said that he was aware Pell had been convicted, but that it did not “alter my opinion of the Cardinal”.

“Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character,” Howard wrote of the man convicted of forcing his penis into the mouths of two 13 year old boys. “Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality.”

Howard added that Pell was “a lively conversationalist who maintains a deep and objective interest in contemporary social and political issues”.

“It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church,” the letter concludes.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeatedly refused to withdraw his support for Pell, who he described as a “friend”, during a tense radio appearance on Wednesday.

Pell is appealing his conviction.

You can read the full text of Howard’s character reference for Pell below.


If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

Men can access anonymous confidential telephone counselling to help to stop using violent and controlling behaviour through the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.