Nearly three years after the release of a damning national report into child sexual abuse, the Australian government has published dozens of previously redacted pages of text relating to Cardinal George Pell. The commission found that, as early as 1973, the former Vatican Treasurer “was not only conscious of child sex abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it.”
In a nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated Easter in virtual solitude on Sunday, calling for the world to come together in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The world is “oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family,” Francis said. In the midst of that suffering, Francis said, the message that Christ has risen is “the contagion of hope.”
Cardinal George Pell welcomed Australia’s highest court clearing him of child sex crimes Tuesday and said his trial had not been a referendum on the Catholic Church’s handling of the clergy abuse crisis. Pope Francis’ former finance minister Pell had been the most senior Catholic found guilty of sexually abusing children and has spent 13 months in high-security prisons before seven High Court judges unanimously dismissed his convictions.
Lawyers for George Pell began a final bid on Wednesday to overturn the former Vatican treasurer’s conviction for sexually abusing two choirboys, arguing in Australia’s highest court that he could not have committed the offenses. Cardinal Pell, 78, began serving a six-year prison sentence a year ago, becoming the highest ranking Catholic clergyman worldwide to be jailed for child sex offenses.
Pope Francis has ruled against ordaining married men in the Amazon region as a means of addressing the shortage of Catholic priests. Bishops backed the measure last year, but the decision needed the Pope’s approval to be implemented. Catholic priests are required to abide by the rule of celibacy upon ordination except in cases where married Anglican ministers have converted. Celibacy is seen as the devotion of one’s life to God.
Cardinal George Pell will have a final chance to overturn his conviction on historical child sexual abuse offenses after the high court in Canberra agreed to hear appeal arguments in a special full court sitting. Led by the high-profile silk Bret Walker SC, Pell’s legal team will argue that the majority of judges in Victoria’s court of appeal erred by finding in August that jurors were not unreasonable to believe the testimony of Pell’s victim.
Former Vatican treasurer George Pell will remain in prison after an Australian appeals court rejected the disgraced cardinal’s appeal against his conviction for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys in the mid-1990s. The most senior Catholic official to be convicted of child sexual assault, Pell was sentenced in March to six years in prison, for an attack described by Chief Judge Peter Kidd as “breathtakingly arrogant.”
Pope Francis has addressed the mystery of why he withdrew his hand from worshippers’ kisses, explaining it was a “simple question of hygiene”. Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday. Conservative critics rounded on the pontiff, accusing him of shunning the centuries-old tradition. Video showing Pope Francis pulling away his hand from people attempting to kiss him went viral.
During an interview about religious vocations for a new book Pope Francis commented that homosexuality within the clergy ‘worries’ him and is a ‘serious matter.’ The Pope described homosexuality as ‘fashionable’ and said the Church must be ‘demanding’ when choosing priesthood candidates. The Pope’s comments referred to women aiming to become nuns as well.
Pope Francis granted sainthood to murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero at the Vatican on Sunday. The Pope praised Romero for his advocacy for peace and choice to be ‘close to the poor and his people.’ Romero was murdered by soldiers during a 1980 Mass. Pope Francis also canonized Pope Paul VI for 1960s Church reforms.