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New Zealand bishops ‘horrified’ by mosque attacks

March 15, 2019 CNA Daily News 2

Wellington, New Zealand, Mar 15, 2019 / 10:30 am (CNA).- The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference released a statement of solidarity with the country’s Muslim population following terrorist attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch. At least 49 people were killed in a mass shooting on March 15.

 

“We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims at mosques in Christchurch,” the country’s six bishops wrote in a joint letter.

 

The bishops said they were “profoundly aware” of the “positive relationships” New Zealand Catholics enjoyed with their Muslim neighbors.

 

The shootings occured during Friday afternoon prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, and the bishops said they were “particularly horrified” that the attacks coincided with acts of worship.

 

“We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured, and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community. We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence,” said the bishops.

 

The attack at the Al Noor mosque, in which more than 40 people were killed, was broadcast on Facebook Live, and the alleged attacker published a manifesto on the internet.

 

An armed worshipper at the second mosque chased away the gunmen, ending the attack. Seven people were killed in Linwood.

 

Several people, including an Australian national have taken into police custody, and one person has been charged with murder. It is unclear how many people were involved in the attacks.

 

New Zealand police said that several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were found in a car near the Al Noor mosque. These were disabled before they could be detonated.

 

Other prominent Catholic figures expressed condolences to those affected by the attack.

 

“I share [Pope Francis’] deep sadness and grief over the deadly violence in Christchurch. No one should have to fear something like this, perpetrated as they worship. We cannot tolerate hatred of or prejudice against any of the Lord’s children,” said New York archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a message posted to Twitter.

 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster expressed similar sentiment.

 

“The news of the massacre in the New Zealand mosques is deeply shocking and has caused us all great pain. We pray for the many victims, for the wounded and for the whole community, which has been severely affected by this act of terrorism,” said Nichols.

 

“May God free us from these tragedies and sustain the efforts of all those who work for peace, harmony and coexistence.”

[…]

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News Briefs

Order explains transfer of nun who spoke against rape-accused bishop in India

March 11, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Muvattupuzha, India, Mar 11, 2019 / 05:42 pm (CNA).- Last month a provincial superior of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation explained that the recent transfer of Sister Lissy Vadakkel was unrelated to her acting as a witness in the case against a bishop accused of serially raping another nun.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jullundur was accused in June 2018 by a nun of the Missionaries of Jesus of raping her during his May 2014 visit to her convent in Kuravilangad. In a complaint to police she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.

Police in Kerala had charged Sister Alphonsa Abraham, superior of the FCC’s Nirmala Province, based in Vijayawada, and three of her deputies, with the wrongful confinement of Sister Lissy, The News Minute reported Feb. 22.

Sr. Alphonsa stated that Sr. Lissy, 53, had been staying in a guest house in Muvattupuzha “for the last 14 years … in her personal capacity and not for any work associated with the Vijayawada Province.”

“During her stay there, she had established a relationship with the nuns of the Kuravilangad convent and gave a statement to the police against Bishop Franco Mulakkal clandestinely,” the provincial superior wrote. Kuravilangad is located about 20 miles south of Muvattupuzha.

Sr. Lissy was given a transfer order Jan. 25. She was transferred from Muvattupuzha to Vijayawada, some 700 miles away. Sr. Alphonsa said that Sr. Lissy did not arrive in Vijayawada until Feb. 9.

Sr. Alphonsa said she was unaware Sr. Lissy had made a statement to police about Bishop Mulakkal when she first issued the transfer.

Sr. Alphonsa said that after receiving the transfer, Sr. Lissy wanted to visit her sick mother in Kerala, and they went together. They met with the superior general of the FCC, with whom Sr. Lissy argued, and Sr. Alphonsa took her to the hospital where Sr. Lissy’s mother was staying.

“Sister Lissy then reached the Muvattupuzha convent on February 17 evening, while her brothers came the next morning, threatening and asking us if we would transfer anybody who gave a statement against Bishop Franco,” Sr. Alphonsa said.

Sr. Lissy told police that at the Vijayawada convent, her mobile was taken away and she was kept in a room for a month. She also said she was kept from visiting her mother, she was tortured, and she was threatened with being institutionalized.

Sr. Lissy’s brother told ucanews.com that his sister” escaped the Vijayawada convent and arrived in Kerala Feb. 16, while Sr. Alphonsa told the outlet that the nun’s statement to police was “mere fabrication.”

Kerala police had gotten involved in Sr. Lissy’s case after her brother reported her as missing, saying she “was untraceable for more than two months,” Matters India reported. The nun was at the Muvattupuzha convent when she was located by police.

Save Our Sisters Action Council, a group supporting nuns critical of Bishop Mulakkal, have claimed that Sr. Lissy’s transfer to the convent in Andhra Pradesh is “part of a larger agenda to eliminate witnesses in the case” against the bishop, The News Minute reported.

Another member of the FCC has been warned over acts of disobedience, including a protest of the handling of the accusation against Bishop Mulakkal.

Sr. Ann Joseph, superior general of the community, sent a letter of warning Jan. 1 to Sr. Lucy Kalapura. Sr. Lucy is accused of leading a life “against the principles of religious life” by disobeying a transfer order, publishing poems after having been denied permission to do so, buying a vehicle, withholding her salary from the congregation, and participating in a protest against Bishop Mulakkal.

Bishop Mulakkal was arrested Sept. 21, 2018, but was released on bail in October. A police investigation is ongoing, and the bishop has been temporarily removed from his responsibilities as Bishop of Jullundur.

Several nuns began protesting in Kochi Sept. 8, 2018 how both police and the Church had responded to the accusation against Bishop Mulakkal.

The Missionaries of Jesus is based in the Diocese of Jullundur, and the Bishop of Jullundur is its patron.

In January, the superior of the Missionaries of Jesus asked five members of her community who have been protesting Bishop Mulakkal to transfer out from the Kuravilangad convent. All but one were being asked to leave Kerala, Scroll.in reported.

But the nuns were told Feb. 9 by Bishop Agnelo Gracias, apostolic administrator of Jullundur, that “as far as it lies within my power, there will be no move from the Diocese of Jalandhar to oust you from the Kuravilangad Convent as long as you are needed for the Court case”, according to The Caravan. He added that the superior general was not to send them letters without his permission.

Yet the diocese’s communication’s director, Fr. Peter Kavumpuram, shortly after said that because the Bishop of Jullundur does not normally intervene in the Missionaries of Jesus’ internal affairs, the superior general’s transfer order “is not cancelled but stands.”

The five nuns remain at the Kuravilangad convent. Fr. Kavumpuram has said that if the nuns do not obey their superior, “Action will be taken against them based on the Constitution of the congregation. I cannot tell you what kind of action it will be at this point.”

On Oct. 22, 2018 Fr. Kuriakose Kattuthara, who testified in support of the nun’s claims against Bishop Mulakkal, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Foul play has been alleged by members of the priest’s family, but a final autopsy report has not yet been reported.

[…]

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News Briefs

Cardinal Pell’s appeal process to begin in June

March 6, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Melbourne, Australia, Mar 6, 2019 / 11:25 am (CNA).- An Australian court announced Wednesday that Cardinal George Pell’s application for leave to appeal his conviction of sexual abuse will be heard June 5-6.

Pell, 77, was convicted in December on five counts of sexual abuse stemming from charges that he sexually assaulted two choirboys while serving as Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. He has maintained his innocence.

It was the cardinal’s second trial, as a jury in an earlier trial had failed to reach a unanimous verdict. The first jury were deadlocked 10-2 in Pell’s favor.

Pell’s appeal will by led by barrister Bret Walker, SC, who will be assisted by Robert Richter, QC, the cardinal’s defense lawyer; Paul Galbally, his solicitor; and Ruth Shann, Richter’s junior barrister.

The cardinal’s appeal will be made on three points: the jury’s reliance on the evidence of a single victim, an irregularity that kept Pell from entering his not guilty plea in front of the jury, and the defense not being allowed to show a visual representation supporting his claim of innocence.

The appeal document, The Age reported, says that “the verdicts are unreasonable and cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence, because on the whole of the evidence, including unchallenged exculpatory evidence from more than 20 Crown witnesses, it was not open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the word of the complainant alone.”

Pell is incarcerated at the Melbourne Assessment Prison while he awaits the results of a sentencing hearing, which will be announced March 13.

In December, a district judge overturned the May 22 conviction of Archbishop Philip Wilson for failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse disclosed to him in the 1970s, saying there was reasonable doubt a crime had been committed.

The judge, Roy Ellis, said acceptance of the accuser “as an honest witness does not automatically mean I would be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he complained to Philip Wilson in 1976 that James Fletcher had indecently assaulted him.”

The news of Pell’s conviction has met with varied reactions. While many figures in Australian media have applauded Pell’s conviction, some Australians have called it into question, prompting considerable debate across the country.

Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, suggested that the justice process was tainted by media and police forces that had worked “to blacken the name” of Pell “before he went to trial.”

“This is not a story about whether a jury got it right or wrong, or about whether justice is seen to prevail,” Craven said in a Feb. 27 opinion piece in The Australian. “It’s a story about whether a jury was ever given a fair chance to make a decision, and whether our justice system can be heard above a media mob.”

Pell was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Ballarat in 1966. He was consecrated a bishop in 1987, and appointed auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, becoming ordinary of the see in 1996. Pell was then Archbishop of Sydney from 2001 to 2014, when he was made prefect of the newly-created Secretariat for the Economy. He served on Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals from 2013 to 2018. Pell ceased to be prefect of the economy secretariat Feb. 24.

[…]

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Pell lawyer will remain on legal team, despite report he would quit

March 5, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Melbourne, Australia, Mar 5, 2019 / 03:17 pm (CNA).- Robert Richter, Cardinal George Pell’s defense lawyer, said Tuesday that he has not quit the prelate’s legal team. A Melbourne daily had earlier reported Richter will not be part of the appeals process.

Richter told the AAP March 5, “I have not quit. I do not quit.”

Pell, prefect emeritus of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, was convicted in December on five counts of sexual abuse stemming from charges that he sexually assaulted two choirboys while serving as Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. He has maintained his innocence, is appealing his conviction.

It was the cardinal’s second trial, as a jury in an earlier trial had failed to reach a unanimous verdict. The first jury were deadlocked 10-2 in Pell’s favor.

At a pre-trial hearing, Richter had noted that Victoria Police had launched an investigation of Pell in 2013, searching for complainants, calling it “an operation looking for a crime because no crime had been reported.”

Though he will remain on Pell’s legal team, Richter will not be leading it through the appeal.

Paul Galbally, Pell’s solicitor, said that “In these particular circumstances, Richter questions whether he has sufficient objectivity at this stage to take the appeal forward himself.”

He added that “As Cardinal Pell is well aware, Richter is still very much part of the legal team and will be involved right through to the end.”

Pell’s appeal will by led by barrister Bret Walker SC, who will be assisted by Richter, Galbally, and Ruth Shann, Richter’s junior barrister.

The Age had reported earlier March 5 that Richter “felt he did not have ‘sufficient objectivity at this stage’ to participate in the challenge set to be heard in Victoria’s Court of Appeal.”

He told the Melbourne outlet, “I am very angry about the verdict, because it was perverse”, and that Pell would be “better served by someone more detached”.

“I think the man is an innocent man and he’s been convicted. It’s not a common experience,” Richter said.

According to The Age, Pell’s appeal will be made on three points: the jury’s reliance on the evidence of a single victim, an irregularity that kept Pel from entering his not guilty plea in front of the jury, and the defense not being allowed to show a visual representation supporting his claim of innocence.

The appeal document, The Age reported, says that “the verdicts are unreasonable and cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence, because on the whole of the evidence, including unchallenged exculpatory evidence from more than 20 Crown witnesses, it was not open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on the word of the complainant alone.”

The news of Pell’s conviction has met with varied reactions.  While many figures in Australian media have applauded Pell’s conviction, some Australians have called it into question, prompting considerable debate across the country.

Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, suggested that the justice process was tainted by media and police forces that had worked “to blacken the name” of Pell “before he went to trial.”

“This is not a story about whether a jury got it right or wrong, or about whether justice is seen to prevail,” Craven said in a Feb. 27 opinion piece in The Australian. “It’s a story about whether a jury was ever given a fair chance to make a decision, and whether our justice system can be heard above a media mob.”

Speaking on an Australian television program March 4, Australian Labor senator Kristina Keneally said those criticizing the verdict were “doing a disservice to our democratic jury system,” adding, “I think it’s disrespectful of the jury verdict … I would also reflect it’s quite disrespectful of victims.”

A university employees’ union representative at the ACU wrote to the school’s chancellor saying staff “have expressed dismay or repugnance” at Craven’s actions.

Dr. Leah Kaufmann, a senior lecturer in psychology, wrote that Craven’s questioning of the verdict “shows a disregard” for concerns regarding child safeguarding and “supporting survivors of sexual abuse.”

On this basis Kaufmann asked that Craven be sanctioned, charging him with “lack of consideration of victims.”

She also asked that the Pell Centre at the school’s Ballarat campus be renamed, and that his portrait be removed from a location at the North Sydney campus.

The Australian reported that an ACU spokeswoman responded that the school respects employees’ rights to comment as a matter of intellectual freedom, saying Craven “made comment on the trial as a constitutional lawyer and former Victorian Crown Counsel.”

Pell is incarcerated at the Melbourne Assessment Prison while he awaits the results of a sentencing hearing, which will be announced March 13.

[…]

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News Briefs

Analysis: The stakes of Pell’s Vatican trial

March 5, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, Mar 5, 2019 / 05:00 am (CNA).- The Vatican has announced that a canonical process against Cardinal George Pell will soon begin in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pell was convicted last year by an Australian jury on five c… […]

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Australian bishops respond to Pell verdict

March 5, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Melbourne, Australia, Mar 5, 2019 / 03:26 am (CNA).- Following news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction of sexual abuse of minors, several bishops in Australia have have said they are committed to truth and justice, while declining to comment on… […]

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Pell awaits sentence in solitary confinement

March 4, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Melbourne, Australia, Mar 4, 2019 / 10:28 pm (CNA).- Cardinal George Pell is incarcerated at the Melbourne Assessment Prison while he awaits the results of a sentencing hearing held last week. Pell was convicted last year of child sexual abuse.

The ca… […]