Cardinal Pell’s release stokes concerns about Australia’s plenary council

Cardinal Pell’s release has a number of influential Catholic figures across Australia expressing concern that the divisive atmosphere stoked by the recent quashing of Pell’s sexual abuse convictions could frustrate hopes for an upcoming once-in-a-generation assembly of the nation’s church.

The assembly, a plenary council in preparation for two years and involving the direct input of some 222,000 people across the continent, is intended to address issues of church reform and to consider the difficult questions confronting the country’s largest faith community in the 21st century.

But in a series of interviews conducted over the month since Australia’s highest court released Pell from prison, senior Catholic leaders worried that the passions inflamed by the case could provoke a sort of fortress mentality, in which Pell’s now-scuppered prosecution is just one example of a church unfairly under siege. Read more

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