1. Why the Vatican might want to send a thank-you note to Australia’s High Court.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, April 7, 2020, Opinion

Obviously, the primary beneficiary of Tuesday’s decision by Australia’s High Court to overturn the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell is Pell himself.

A close second in terms of who benefits from the ruling, however, is the Vatican, which effectively got an early Easter present.

Had things gone the other way, the Vatican would have been compelled to launch its own canonical investigation of Pell, which could have led to his being expelled from the clerical state like ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick. Judges in Rome would have had to examine the evidence, and likely would have reached the same decision as their Australian colleagues, which was that “the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.”

Doing so would have put the Vatican in the position of being seen not only as taking care of one of its own, but also defying a whole nation’s civil justice system. To say the least, the PR fallout would have been abysmal – especially since, by the time an investigation here reached completion, the Vatican probably couldn’t count on the coronavirus any longer to offer a massive global distraction.

Now, the heavy lifting has already been done. If Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, isn’t drafting a thank-you note right now to Australian Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, he really ought to be.


2. Vatican welcomes Pell verdict, affirms anti-abuse resolve as survivors protest.

By Elise Ann Allen, Crux, April 7, 2020

On Tuesday the Vatican said it welcomed the Australian High Court’s decision to acquit Cardinal George Pell on all charges of the sexual abuse, while also stressing their own commitment to pursuing justice for minors who have been abused.

In an April 7 statement just hours after the court’s verdict, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “The Holy See, which has always expressed confidence in the Australian judicial authority, welcomes the High Court’s unanimous decision concerning Cardinal George Pell, acquitting him of the accusations of abuse of minors and overturning his sentence.”


3. Cardinal Pell welcomes court’s dismissal of abuse conviction.

By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, April 6, 2020, 8:23 PM

Pope Francis’ former finance minister Pell had been the most senior Catholic found guilty of sexually abusing children and spent 13 months in prison before seven High Court judges unanimously dismissed his convictions.

“I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” Pell said in his first public statement since he was convicted in December 2018. It was released before he left prison and was taken to the Carmelite Monastery in Melbourne where he was greeted by a nun.

Francis appeared to refer to Pell’s acquittal in his morning homily, saying he was praying for all those unjustly persecuted.

The High Court referred to the “unchallenged evidence” of witnesses in the trial to Pell’s practice of talking to the congregation on the cathedral stairs after Mass, church practice that required him to be accompanied in the cathedral while robed and the “continuous traffic in and out of the priests’ sacristy” as causes for reasonable doubt.

The High Court statement said: “There is a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.”


4. Justice, finally: It is imperative for the future of the Australian criminal justice system, and indeed for the future of Australian democracy, that a serious examination of conscience followed by a serious public reckoning take place.

By George Weigel, Catholic World Report, April 6, 2020, Opinion

The unanimous decision by Australia’s High Court to quash a guilty verdict and enter a verdict of “acquitted” in the case of Pell vs. The Queen reverses both the incomprehensible trial conviction of Cardinal George Pell on a charge of “historic sexual abuse” and the equally baffling decision to uphold that false verdict by two of the three members of an appellate court in the State of Victoria last August. The High Court’s decision frees an innocent man from the unjust imprisonment to which he has been subjected, restores him to his family and friends, and enables him to resume his important work in and for the Catholic Church. The decision also begins the process of rebuilding international confidence in Australia’s criminal justice system, which has been badly damaged by the Pell case—although there is much more remedial work to be done on that front, especially in the State of Victoria, Ground Zero of the Pell witch hunt that raged for years and that culminated in this tawdry affair.

Throughout this ordeal, Cardinal George Pell has been a model of patience, and indeed a model of priestly character. Knowing that he is innocent, he was free even when incarcerated. And he put that time to good use—“an extended retreat,” as he called it—cheering his many friends throughout the world and intensifying an already-vigorous life of prayer, study, and writing. Now that he can, at last, celebrate the Mass again, I’ve no doubt that he will make, among his intentions, the conversion of his persecutors and the renewal of justice in the country he loves.

As a citizen of Vatican City, Cardinal Pell did not have abandon his work in Rome to return to Australia for trial. The thought of appealing to his diplomatic immunity never occurred to him, though. For he was determined to defend his honor and that of the Australian Church, which he had led in addressing the crimes and sins of sexual abuse (and in many other ways) for years. George Pell placed his bet on the essential fairness of his countrymen. The High Court’s decision has vindicated that wager, finally. The reception of the court’s decision will tell a lot about whether the Australian media and the Australian people have learned anything from all of this.


5. Justices  won’t review ruling on Metro’s religious ad ban.

By Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, The Washington Post, April 7, 2020, Pg. B1

The Supreme Court will not take up a lower court’s decision that Metro did not violate the First Amendment by banning religious advertising.

The court on Monday passed on reviewing a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that upheld the transit agency’s ban on religious messages on buses and trains and in stations as lawful and free from discrimination.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was sued by the Archdiocese of Washington for rejecting a proposed advertisement around Christmas 2017. The planned “Find the Perfect Gift” ads featured a biblical Christmas scene and a link to a website that encouraged people to attend Mass or donate to a Catholic charitable group.


6. For abortion industry, it’s business as usual: Coronavirus reminds that government must do better to save vulnerable lives.

By Lila Rose, The Washington Times, April 7, 2020, Pg. B4, Opinion

Because COVID-19 threatens every city from Los Angeles to New York, leaders like Mr. Garcetti are ordering that all non-essential health care procedures be halted. This is to preserve protective equipment, such as masks and gloves, for the health care workers testing for and treating COVID-19. These orders also keep more of the general population home, slowing the spread of COVID-19.

But the abortion industry is carrying on business as usual. Almost as soon as the crisis began, groups like Planned Parenthood launched an intense abortion-marketing campaign and made it clear that they would continue business as usual. Planned Parenthood has outrageously claimed that abortion is “essential” health care and does not fall into the category of procedures halted by the states.

And Mayor Garcetti isn’t the only government leader who’s expressed concern for the preservation of human life. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, stated: “I want to be able to say to the people of New York — I did everything we could do. And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”

Yet, these men lead in areas of the country with some of the highest death tolls from abortion — an act that could be mitigated with a single word or signature from them. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute reports that, in 2017, 132,680 California children were killed by abortion, and that number was 105,380 in New York the same year. That means nearly a quarter-million children were violently killed in just two states — and that every single one of these deaths was preventable. Every single one of those children’s lives was protectable.

Abortion facilities should not operate now, and they should not reopen after this national emergency subsides, because Mr. Cuomo was right: “If everything we do saves just one life,” it is worth it. And just as every single human being suffering from COVID-19 is worth every effort to rescue, so is every single one of the 862,320 children who dies annually and unnecessarily at the hands of American abortion facilities.


7. Catholic schools, Little Sisters among Supreme Court’s postponed cases.

By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, April 6, 2020

The Supreme Court, much like the rest of the country, is putting some of its work on hold amid the restrictions of the COVID-19 health crisis.

The court, which had already postponed oral arguments from mid-March to mid-April, announced April 3 that it also was postponing the rest of the April argument session scheduled through April 29.

In announcing the decision, it did not say if or when it would resume scheduled arguments for this term but indicated in a short news release that the court will “consider rescheduling some cases from the March and April sessions before the end of the term, if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance at that time.”

The most recent announcement impacts a case the court was to hear April 29: Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The sisters, who have been before the nation’s high court before, are back because of state challenges to the Trump administration’s decision to allow religious employers to opt out of the Affordable Health Care’s contraceptive mandate.

Becket, a nonprofit religious liberty law firm, also is representing Catholic schools in a case that was scheduled for April 1 and was part of the first group of cases the court postponed. The combined cases center on two California Catholic schools that were sued by the teachers they had fired who claimed they had been victims of job discrimination.

Also among the orders the Supreme Court announced April 6, it said it would not review a lower court’s decision that the Washington Metro system’s ban on religious advertising didn’t violate the First Amendment. The transit system was sued by the Archdiocese of Washington in 2017 for not displaying the Christmas message “Find the Perfect Gift” on the sides of buses with a link to a website with information about Mass times, daily reflections on the Advent season or ways to help local Catholic programs serving those in need.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh had to recuse himself from the case because he was on the three-judge panel of the appeals court that heard arguments about the proposed advertisement in 2018.

In a separate opinion on the order, Justice Neil Gorsuch said the situation could have been different if Kavanaugh were included. “Because the full court is unable to hear this case, it makes a poor candidate for our review,” Gorsuch wrote in a brief opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.


8. Ohio, Oklahoma courts rule abortions can continue amid virus.

By Julie Carr Smyth and Ken Miller, Associated Press, April 6, 2020, 5:46 PM

Court decisions in two U.S. states Monday allowed abortions to continue after the procedure was caught in the crosshairs of governors’ orders suspending all non-essential elective surgeries due to the new coronavirus.

The decisions in Ohio and Oklahoma responded to challenges by abortion rights groups.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost seeking to reverse a judge’s temporary restraining order allowing abortion facilities in the state to continue performing surgical abortions.

In Oklahoma, a judge issued a similar temporary restraining order against Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s order, allowing clinics there to resume providing medication abortions and procedures for patients who otherwise would see their pregnancies push gestational limits after which abortion is illegal.


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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