– Tej Francis



(Al-bushra) Palestinians have responded to COVID-19 with ingenuity and hospitality. They are using the resilience that has allowed them to thrive under the brutal Israeli Occupation, to survive the Coronavirus.

Bethlehem, which has been the hardest hit by the virus, has taken numerous precautions that have stemmed the spread of the virus, while still showing great love and care for those in quarantine. People have carefully left food and drinks outside the Angel Hotel to show those in quarantine that they are not forgotten.

Although Palestinians have to deal with racist and discriminatory policies by Israel even in response to this crisis, they continue to act humanely and heroically in the face of yet another disaster.

As the virus comes to our front door let’s follow Palestinian leadership, recognizing that our survival is more dependent on leaning in to care for all than being overtaken by fear and stockpiling. Rather than give in to a mindset of scarcity, support the resilience of our Palestinian allies.



(Crux) At least during the first few days of the lockdown: People really do seem to think that by obeying the restrictions decreed by the national government, they’re engaged in an effort to save the country.

The day after the most recent set of decrees went into effect, I found myself in line at a grocery store here in Rome, one of the few businesses allowed to remain open. An employee was at the door, carefully regulating the number of people allowed in at any one time. Before long, however, she was called away to deal with a delivery, and the entrance was left unguarded.

Under virtually any other set of circumstances, Italians would have crammed and pushed their way into the store. Instead, the small group immediately established a sequence of who had arrived first, patiently waited a meter apart until someone exited the store, and then went in one by one.

I’ve frankly never seen anything like it, and it speaks to a sense of national purpose, however short-lived it may turn out to be as restrictions begin to chafe.



(CNA).- After an ordeal that began nearly four years ago, and more than 13 months of imprisonment, Cardinal George Pell is expected to be released from prison imminently, after his conviction for five alleged counts of sexual abuse was overturned unanimously Tuesday by Australia’s High Court.

Pell is expected to be released from prison within two hours.

The court ordered that “the appellant’s convictions be quashed and judgments of acquittal be entered in their place,” in its April 7 decision.

“The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place,” the court said in a judgment summary April 7.

At issue in the appeal was whether the jury that convicted Pell in December 2018 of sexually abusing two choristers could have plausibly found Pell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, having heard the case presented by the prosecutors and the defense mounted by Pell’s lawyers.

The High Court found the appellate court that heard Pell’s appeal last year “failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place, such that there ought to have been a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.”

With regard to the jury, “The Court held that, on the assumption that the jury had assessed the complainant’s evidence as thoroughly credible and reliable, the evidence of the opportunity witnesses nonetheless required the jury, acting rationally, to have entertained a reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt in relation to the offences involved in both alleged incidents,” the judgment summary explained.

The Court’s April 7 summary release added that “The unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses was inconsistent with the complainant’s account, and described: (i) the applicant’s practice of greeting congregants on or near the Cathedral steps after Sunday solemn Mass; (ii) the established and historical Catholic church practice that required that the applicant, as an archbishop, always be accompanied when robed in the Cathedral; and (iii) the continuous traffic in and out of the priests’ sacristy for ten to 15 minutes after the conclusion of the procession that ended Sunday solemn Mass.”