– Tej Francis



(CNA) The co-cathedral of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee was damaged by fire Wednesday, with several of the chairs in the sanctuary set ablaze using an accelerant. The church’s rector has said he suspects arson. According to the diocese, the cathedra and presiders’ chairs were set on fire and were destroyed, while the flames charred the walls of the sanctuary and the building suffered smoke damage. No one was hurt and an investigation is underway, the diocese said.

Father John Cayer, rector of the Co-Cathedral of Saint Thomas More, told WCTV that a Florida State University student first noticed the smoke and called authorities. Mass was scheduled for 5:15pm on Wednesday, so the church was unlocked, he said. The co-cathedral also houses the Catholic Student Center for Florida State University. “We have no idea who has done this,” Cayer told WCTV yesterday. “This is an obvious case of arson. We are very upset. The community is becoming very upset and we hope that there is some resolution to this.”

“I am saddened to hear of an apparently intentional fire set at the St. Thomas More Co-Cathedral in Tallahassee yesterday,” CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said in a statement today. “My arson detectives responded immediately to assist local authorities in determining the cause. Arson is a costly and dangerous crime, and my arson detectives will continue to assist authorities in any way to bring those responsible to justice.”



(NCR) In an interview with the Register, the Springfield bishop discusses his decree that specifically calls on Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton not to present themselves for Communion. This week, Illinois passed the most extreme pro-abortion state legislation in America — with some Catholic lawmakers taking the lead in pushing forward this anti-life bill.

In response, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, today issued a public decree communicating to his priests that all Illinois Catholic lawmakers who voted for the state’s new Reproductive Health Act, or for an earlier 2017 bill that legalized taxpayer funding of abortions, should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield “without first being reconciled to Christ and the Church.” The decree, and an accompanying letter were mailed earlier in the week to all of the Catholic lawmakers who voted in favor of the bills.

And the new decree singles out by name House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, stating that because of their important leadership roles in the passage of the pair of pro-abortion bills, they “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois because they have obstinately persisted in promoting the abominable crime and very grave sin of abortion.”



(MercatorNet) Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for historic child abuse has provoked intense interest in Australia and around the world. So far he has served about a hundred days of his six-year sentence. On Wednesday and Thursday his lawyer appeared before a Court of Appeal in an attempt to have the verdict overturned. The case for the prosecution rests entirely on the testimony of the complainant, who accused the Cardinal of vile and grotesque abuse in the sacristy after solemn Mass on a Sunday in December 1996. A few weeks later Pell allegedly assaulted him in a corridor, again after Sunday Mass. The prosecutor contended that the boy, now in his 30s, was an unimpeachable witness: “He was clearly not a liar, he was not a fantasist, he was a witness of truth.” The fact that the victim had calmly endured hours of ‘‘searing’’ cross-examination proved that he was reliable. 

Apart from two technical points of law, the case for the defense is the inherent improbability of the victim’s story. The defense team listed 13 issues which, it claimed, the jury had ignored when it found Pell guilty. These should have led them to conclude that the complaint had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. It is impossible to predict what will happen. The Court of Appeal could free Pell by deeming the verdict “unsafe and unsatisfactory” or it could affirm the jury’s decision. Australian judges are loath to overturn verdicts, for juries are deemed to be reliable by virtue of a mysterious insight they have into a defendant’s guilt or innocence. “I’ve said it before that I think juries almost always get it right,” one of the judges told the prosecutor. But, he added, “The word is almost.”

It could be weeks or even months before the Court of Appeal hands down its decision. And that may not end the matter. The outcome can be appealed to the High Court of Australia by either the prosecution or the defense. In the meantime, Cardinal Pell has returned to solitary confinement in Melbourne Assessment Prison.

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