KEITH Windschuttle has once again amplified his demolition of “this hiatus, this gap.” TH-TG is the mythical five-or-six-minute lull into which Victorian prosecutors artfully squeezed Cardinal George Pell’s alleged crimes against two choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in December 1996 like so many sophomores into a 1950s phone-booth. Referring to the trial transcript, Windschuttle establishes that an exchange between Crown prosecutor Mark Gibson and sacristan Max Potter shows the stop-watch on the all-important “hiatus” began ticking directly after Mass had concluded, not after the procession from the Cathedral concluded.
Earlier this week, Windschuttle pointed out that Gibson was forced to retract a neatly companionable argument made to the jury about the whereabouts of other choirboys during “this hiatus” (which was ruled to have had no foundation in evidence tendered) and noted its inexplicable re-appearance in the Victorian DPP’s submission to the High Court. What this means is there was literally no time during which the two choirboys and/or Cardinal Pell could have been alone in the priests’ sacristy. During this time, all three were still in procession. Following that, the sacristy immediately became a “hive of activity.”
Could Chief Justice Ferguson and Justice Maxwell (who both accepted Gibson’s faulty interpretation of TH-TG) have made a fundamental and deplorable error based on – let’s say – inexpertise as regards liturgy or liturgical terms? As any church-going Catholic could have told them, Mass concludes with the final blessing (that’s where the word “mass” comes from, in fact: Ite, missa est – the dismissal). The period between the final blessing and a concluded archiepiscopal procession, however, is at least five or six minutes. At least. If you factor in the social attention at the doors given to an archbishop, add another several minutes to that. Again: this is being almost ridiculously conservative. Justice Maxwell was schooled at Melbourne Grammar (more than nominally C of E when he was a student there in the 1960s) and the Chief Justice was educated by the Brigidine sisters. Did they not attend chapel? Stated simply: if there is no hiatus or gap, there is no case.