AUSTRALIA’S HIGH COURT OVERTURNS CARDINAL PELL’S CONVICTION – PRESS OFFICE ON AUSTRALIA COURT DECISION – PAPAL ALMONER: INVITE TO MEMBERS OF PAPAL HOUSEHOLD

AUSTRALIA’S HIGH COURT OVERTURNS CARDINAL PELL’S CONVICTION

On Tuesday morning, the judges serving on Australia’s High Court announced their decision to overturn Cardinal Pell’s conviction saying that the “evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof.”

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Cardinal George Pell’s legal battle ended on Tuesday morning. Australia’s High Court announced their unanimous decision to overturn the guilty verdict upheld by Victoria’s Court of Appeal last August. The High Court justices based their decision on the fact that the appellate court had failed to take into consideration whether there “remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place”, leaving open “reasonable doubt” as to the Cardinal’s guilt. (JFL photo)

The Cardinal has been in prison since the February 2019 guilty verdict was announced. Shortly after the High Court acquitted him, he left the prison and is reported to have been taken to a monastery in Melbourne.

Cardinal Pell’s reaction
Cardinal Pell released a statement after hearing the High Court’s decision. In it, he reiterates that he has “consistently maintained” his innocence. The “injustice” that he received “has been remedied” today, he continued.

Addressing the person who brought the charges against him, Cardinal Pell said, “I hold no ill will towards my accuser.” And thinking of others who may feel “hurt and bitterness”, he said that he does not want his acquittal to add any additional pain. The basis for “long term healing,” he continued, “is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.”

The Cardinal thanked everyone who has prayed for him, sent letters of support, his family, his “team of advisors,” “friends and supporters here and overseas,” and especially, his legal team. He ended his statement thinking of those affected by the Coronavirus. “I am praying for all those affected and our medical frontline personnel,” he said.

Australian Bishops reaction
On behalf of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, its President, Archbishop Mark Coleridge also issued a statement. In it, he acknowledges the mixed feelings that the Cardinal’s acquittal will provoke. “Today’s outcome will be welcome” by those who “believe in the Cardinal’s innocence” and “devastating for others.” “Many have suffered greatly through the process, which has now reached its conclusion,” the Archbishop said.

Archbishop Coleridge ended his statement reiterating the “Church’s unwavering commitment to child safety and to a just and compassionate response to survivors and victims of child sexual abuse.” Since children’s safety is of utmost important to the “Catholic community”, and its bishops, he invited: “any person with allegations of sexual abuse by Church personnel should go to the police.”
(This article was updated at 8:22am Rome time, Tuesday)

PRESS OFFICE ON AUSTRALIA COURT DECISION

“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.

“Entrusting his case to the court’s justice, Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence, and has waited for the truth to be ascertained.

“At the same time, the Holy See reaffirms its commitment to preventing and pursuing all cases of abuse against minors.”

PAPAL ALMONER: INVITE TO MEMBERS OF PAPAL HOUSEHOLD

A communiqué from the Papal Almoner:

“The Apostolic Almoner of the Holy Father, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, invites the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and Prelates who make up the Cappella Papale (Papal Household) Chapel to solidarity.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the liturgical celebrations presided over by the Holy Father in Holy Week will be lived without the presence of those who, in accordance with the Motu Proprio Pontificalis Domus, make up the Papal Household.

“To participate in the sufferings of those who are experiencing this trial, the Almoner asks in a letter (the Papal Household) to be united intimately and in a special way with the Pontiff, Bishop of Rome who “presides over the universal communion of charity” (Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Constitution Lumen gentium, 3), through an offer. The Holy Father will then decide the destination of the alms collected for the health emergency.”

IN BRIEF (MORE OR LESS)

Today was a very busy day for Pope Francis, and will only end when his 6 p.m. meeting with the Cursillos Movement (underway as I write) ends. A lot of news today so I offer the top stories in a more or less shortened form.

Tomorrow, May 1, feast of St. Joseph, is Labor Day in Italy and a huge holiday in both Italy and the Vatican. Pope Francis’ sole scheduled activity is a video link at noon with Expo Milan 2015 to participate in opening this 184-day long exposition on the theme: “Feeding the Planet, energy for life.” I’ll bring you that story and any other breakling news and will update you on this week’s “Vatican Insider.”

And now, on to the news:

IN BRIEF (MORE OR LESS)

POPE FRANCIS ON THURSDAY ADRESSED members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission – known as ARCIC – and told them the cause of unity is not an option undertaking. The 18 Anglican and Catholic members of the commission, known as ARCIC III, are holding their annual meeting this week outside Rome. ARCIC was founded after an historic meeting in 1966 between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury – the first since the Reformation and the Church of England’s breakaway from Rome. And thus the Anglican-Catholic dialogue was started. (photos: news.va)

ARCIC

The Pope said: “There is a strong bond that already unites us which goes beyond all divisions. It is the testimony of Christians from different Churches and traditions, victims of persecution and violence simply because of the faith they profess. And not only now, that there are many of them; I think also of the martyrs of Uganda, half Catholics and half Anglicans. The blood of these martyrs will nourish a new era of ecumenical commitment, a fervent desire to fulfil the last will and testament of the Lord: that all may be one. The witness by these our brothers and sisters demands that we live in harmony with the Gospel and that we strive with determination to fulfil the Lord’s will for his Church. Today the world urgently needs the common, joyful witness of Christians, from the defence of life and human dignity to the promotion of justice and peace.”

NEW COMMISSION INSTITUTED TO STUDY REFORM OF VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS (VIS) – During the April 13-15 meeting of the Council of Cardinals who assist the Holy Father in the governance of the universal Church and the reform of the Roman Curia, the final report of the committee charged with proposing a reform of Vatican communications, the so-called Vatican Media Committee (VMC), was examined. The C9 subsequently proposed to Pope Francis the institution of a commission to study this final report and to suggest feasible approaches to its implementation. The Pope accepted the proposal and, on April 23, instituted the commission and appointed its members. Commission chairman is Msgr. Dario Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Center.

MSGR DARIO VIGANO

Members are Paolo Nusiner, director general of “Avvenire” daily newspaper, Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

POPE FRANCIS SENT A TELEGRAM of condolences to Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar for Rome, upon learning of the death Thursday at the age of 97 of Cardinal Giovanni Canestri. He was archbishop of Genoa, Italy from 1987 to 1995. Originally from the diocese of Alessandria, the late cardinal belonged to the clergy of Rome and was at one point an auxiliary bishop there. Francis wrote, in part: “The passing of the venerated cardinal elicits in my heart profound emotion and sincere admiration for an esteemed man of the Church who lived with humility and devotion his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopate in the service of the Gospel and of the souls entrusted to him.”

THURSDAY MORNING POPE FRANCIS WELCOMED TWO CATHOLIC ASSOCIATIONS, the Community of Christian Life in Italy and the Missionary League for Italian Students.  He asked them – and Italian Catholics, through these organizations –  to spread a culture of justice and peace, support families in difficulties and show solidarity with the world’s poorest and most needy.  In fact, the two have come together to work on a joint project calling for greater support on the part of Europe in welcoming migrants from overseas and to help Christians in Syria.

THE POPE ALSO WELCOMED President James Alix Michel of the Republic of the Seychelles.

POPE-SEYCHELLES

AT 6 P.M. THURSDAY IN THE PAUL VI HALL, the Pope met with members of the Cursillos in ChristianityCursillos de Cristiandad (meaning “short course in Christianity”). Cursillos is an apostolic movement founded in Majorca, Spain by a group of lay people in 1944 seeking to refine a technique to train pilgrimage Christian leaders. The Cursillo focuses on showing Christian lay people how to become effective Christian leaders over the course of a three-day weekend. The weekend includes fifteen talks – known as “rollos” – some given by priests and some by lay people. The major emphasis of the weekend is to ask participants to take what they have learned back into the world, on what is known as the “fourth day.” The method stresses personal spiritual development, as accelerated by weekly group reunion (after the weekend). Cursillos always operates within a diocese with the permission and blessing of the bishop.

VATICAN PRESS CONFERENCE (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the concert organized to support the Pope’s charitable work. It will take place on May 14, solemnity of the Ascension, at 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall. The concert will be conducted by Maestro Daniel Oren and performed by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Salerno, Italy, together with the choir of the diocese of Rome led by Msgr. Marco Frisina. The event is sponsored by the Papal Almoner, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, and the St. Matthew Foundation, in memory of Cardinal Van-Thuan, and unites culture with charitable concerns. For the occasion, the donations gathered will be entirely donated to the office of the Apostolic Almoner, the dicastery responsible for the Pope’s charity. The evening’s protagonists are the most needy, the poor and the sick, who will occupy the front rows and have been invited through charitable and voluntary associations: the Great Priory of Rome and the Order of Malta, the Circle of St. Peter, diocesan Caritas, the Sant’Egidio Community and the Centro Astalli, which assists migrants and refugees, the Daughters of Charity and other associations present in the diocese of Rome.