The Australian

Pounding George Pell in the press: The cardinal takes a hit from the Gray Lady

Pounding George Pell in the press: The cardinal takes a hit from the Gray Lady

The “trial of the century” of Cardinal George Pell -- the Vatican’s “number 3” man and head of its finances - on sexual abuse charges has been passed by a Melbourne Magistrate to the Victoria County Court for adjudication. On April 30, Magistrate Belinda Wallington found there was sufficient evidence to justify a trial for the 76-year old former archbishop of Melbourne and Sydney, who has been placed on leave by Pope Francis to respond to the charges.

The case has been closely followed by the Australian and Italian press for the past three years, while the US and British press has also covered the spectacle. The coverage has been all over the map. 

Some outlets, like The Australian, have done a thorough balanced job -- others like the New York Times have fallen short in their professional standards. Conservative Catholic blogs have long criticized the coverage of the Pell case as  against the cardinal -- and part of the larger battle of doctrine being waged between progressives and traditionalists within the church.

Not unexpectedly, the Italian press has viewed the Pell case on advocacy-journalism lines - the anti-clerical or liberal papers have already found him guilty, the Catholic papers see him as a martyr to police misconduct, media bias and anti-Catholic sentiment, while the center plays it down the middle with a ‘too soon to tell’ what to think about George Pell approach.

When the charges surfaced last year, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) observed:

The centrist Corriere Della Sera newspaper noted the cardinal was "the highest representative of the Catholic Church every involved in such a case". The liberal La Repubblica warned "the shadow of pedophilia and rape returns to obscure the church". It described the cardinal as the "controversial kangaroo" and branded Australia as "a paradise of the orcs", saying in the past seven per cent of priests had been accused of sexual assault.

Today’s headlines from Italy follow this pattern. The lede in La Repubblica’s story “Abusi sessuali e pedofilia, il cardinale Pell rinviato a giudizio in Australia” (Sexual abuse and paedophilia -- Cardinal Pell indicted in Australia) states: 

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Gay female tennis stars vs. Aussie legend-pastor: What element is missing in the news?

Gay female tennis stars vs. Aussie legend-pastor: What element is missing in the news?

Thursday’s big celebrity religion story may be what’s happening in Australia now that two icons of womens’ tennis have faced off against each other.

One is Margaret Court, the 74-year-old tennis legend, now a pastor in Perth, who holds the world record with 24 Grand Slam singles wins. The other is Martina Navratilova, the 60-year-old openly gay holder of 18 Grand Slam titles.

Wearied by Court’s public remarks about homosexuality and religion, Navratilova struck back by demanding that a major sports arena in Melbourne -- named in honor of Court -- get a name change. The Aussies don’t seem too keen on having an American-Czech player tell them what to do with their playing fields, but other tennis stars have also jumped into the fray. Want to guess which side of this debate is getting the most ink?

Here's how the New York Times described the situation.

PARIS -- Show Court 1, one of the biggest stadiums at the Australian Open, was rechristened Margaret Court Arena in 2003 to honor the player who dominated women’s tennis in the 1960s and still holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles.
It is unclear what the stadium will be called when the tournament begins in Melbourne next January.
Court, 74, now a pastor in Perth, has reignited debate about her legacy and how the sport should celebrate her by making a series of inflammatory comments recently about gays and same-sex marriage. Her beliefs are not new -- her public comments first stirred protests in 2012 -- but her unflinching remarks have provoked some current players to say they would object to playing on a court named after her.

One is then quoted.

“I think it would be a good thing to see if the Australian Open can maybe change the name of the stadium,” Richel Hogenkamp, who is gay, said after winning her first-round match Monday at the French Open, where talk about Court has commanded unusual attention. “Because I think if you’re in that kind of position, maybe some players, they don’t feel so comfortable playing in a stadium named after Margaret Court.”

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Triumph of the stringer in the Nairobi massacre coverage

African reporters are coming into their own with the stories coming out of Kenya this weekend. If you step back from the reports on the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi — now entering its third day as of the writing of this post — and look not at the content of the news, but how it is being presented, you can see examples the changes taking place in journalism. Advances in technology, newspaper and network business models, and the worldviews brought to the reporting by journalists have resulted in different stories today than would have been written 10 years ago.

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Muhammad marketing mishaps in Sydney

I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening, All over this land, I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out a warning, I’d hammer out love between, My brothers and my sisters, All over this land.

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Beware of creepy, crooked, cash-flush Pentecostals

Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te.

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